Tips for Downsizing Your Possessions Without Feeling Guilt
August 10, 2022 by Julia Weaver
Downsizing is all about being mindful of your belongings and eliminating the excess things that take up valuable space. People take on this task for a number of reasons – perhaps they no longer need as much space, they want to save money, or they’re entering a new phase of life and they want to change their living situation. Whether you’re moving from a spacious rental house Madison, WI into a smaller apartment in Jacksonville, FL and looking to downsize your possessions, or if you’re simply feeling motivated to keep clutter to a minimum and create more room in your current home – the process can be both an overwhelming and an exciting time. We asked lifestyle coaches and downsizing experts for their best tips and tricks for downsizing possessions, from changing your mindset, knowing what to keep and what to toss, and how to deal with the guilt of getting rid of sentimental items.
Understand what brings you joy
Downsizing your possessions will declutter your physical space as well as your mental, emotional, and spiritual space. The most important standard of all is to define what you need. Knowing what makes you happy and what brings you peace and joy will help you downsize and simplify your life of not only clutter and possessions but also daily household tasks you are responsible for in your home. – Richard Seaman, Founder & Director of Seattle Life Coach Training (SLCT)
Recognize the opportunity to grow when downsizing your possessions
Guilt takes you out of the present experience and into thoughts of failure and fear. It is essential to grieve any expectations and allow this new energy to guide you towards creating plans. There are no failures, only waves of
incoming and outgoing inner tides that are necessary to our life journey. See this as an opportunity to connect with the deeper, fundamental part of what enriches a person’s life: Experiences and core values. You are now
open to defining what is and is not important to you and what you can and cannot live without. Another seed of wealth in change is the unknown – of what comes next. The unknown is the space required for growth and the more exciting part of living life to its fullest. A mantra seed to plant in your heart, mind, and spirit during this time is: Open myself to seeing new adventures and opportunities. – Rosy Gill, inner leadership & lifestyle coach, provides holistic spiritual guidance for harmonizing your mind • body • heart • spirit towards joy.
Create space for new memories
Downsizing your possessions can be an emotional time. It often happens in later stages of life, when children are grown and have left home. Getting rid of items is difficult because they evoke memories of a previous life. One tip we love to tell clients is that you need to declutter to make room for new memories. Change can be exciting and often leads to new experiences. Do it on your terms. Gather old childhood toys, games, sports equipment, old decorations, junk from the yard or garage, and anything else that hasn’t been used in years. Send pictures to your children and ask if there’s anything they want. That will allow you to reminisce about old times and permission to get rid of those items, making room for new experiences. – Action Junk Hauling, junk removal specialists in Seattle, WA and surrounding areas
Ask yourself these four questions
Our belongings (what we have or what we’d like to have) can influence us more than we’d like to admit. Instead of letting your stuff manage you, consider asking yourself the following questions to better manage your space (and life) and create room for what matters most.
If this item was missing for one year, would I notice?
What value does this item offer? (practically or emotionally)
What would letting go of this item create space for? (both literally and
Who would benefit from having this item more than I would?
– Alexandra Kaval of Grace Space Christian Coaching, professional certified
master life coach for purpose-driven women who crave intentional, Christ-
Moving is a great time to declutter and downsize your life
As you pack up your items, ask yourself if you have used this item in the last year. Donating your items ensures they will go to someone who uses them. If you are hanging on to things for sentimental value, take a picture for yourself and create a scrapbook. This will let you keep the emotion tied to the memory while freeing up your space. – Organized By Margaret Lee Professional Organizer in Arlington, WA and surrounding areas
Get rid of your belongings responsibly while downsizing your possessions
The idea of parting with a lifetime of experiences in the form of physical objects can certainly be overwhelming, but keep in mind that the memories and photographs are where those sentiments are really stored. Downsizing your possessions can be a good opportunity to organize memories into scrapbooks and journals to cherish for generations. The next hurdle is the idea of throwing items into a landfill. That’s where responsible disposal can help. From estate sales to sustainably-focused junk haulers that divide items between reuse, recycle, and finally rubbish, it helps to know that many things can find new homes rather than becoming garbage when it’s time to
downsize. – Sustainable Junk Removal, environmentally friendly junk haulers in Denver, CO and surrounding areas
Acknowledge your connection to the items before closing the chapter
Living in clutter can be stressful, lead to being unproductive, and in some cases, can even affect your mood. However, getting rid of these extra things can be challenging due to their sentimental value. The best way to cope with this is not to completely shut out those feelings but to recognize and appreciate the items and what they mean to you. Coming to terms with what the items mean to you can help you to see that you have completed specific chapters or phases of your life. Letting items go doesn’t mean that you don’t appreciate them but instead you are ready to move on and make more memories. – Smith Bros Junk, offering junk removal services in Milwaukee, WI and surrounding areas
Find the “why”
Sadly, there is a lot of guilt that comes along with the decluttering and downsizing process. I find it’s essential to have a solid and clear “why” for the process, print it out in a large font, and stick it to the wall in the space we are
working on. It also helps to have a disposal plan. Be sure to find charity shops to drop your belongings off at before you begin the project. It helps to set limits around what you will sell and the minimum prices you’re willing to sell an item for. Then, set a deadline for when you must sell it, and donate it after it passes. – Jessica Barclay, Lifestyle Coach at A Happy Lifestyle Club
Downsize your wardrobe
The goal is to have a closet full of pieces you love wearing. Take stock of your clothing, keep the pieces you love, and find a way to extend the life of items that are no longer in your wardrobe rotation–whether through clothing recycling or donation programs. Owning fewer pieces of clothing is a great way to make space for experimentation. You can breathe new life into basics by renting complementary and trendier pieces without the long-term commitment of ownership. – Ambika Singh, founder and CEO of Armoire, a clothing rental company
If you won’t replace your item, get rid of it
Getting rid of items, whether you’ve had them for a short while or a lifetime, can be a difficult process. One may feel guilt, shame, regret, fear, obligation, wastefulness, etc., and those feelings can cause us to hold onto things
unnecessarily. Now let’s imagine you had a house fire and you had to replace an entire lifetime’s worth of items. Would you re-buy that item in your hand that you’re struggling to make a decision about? If you would not re-buy it, get rid of it. – Emily Wehrle, Owner of Love Organizing Company in New Jersey
Remember the good you’re doing
Downsizing your possessions is easy when you realize how much good you can do with such a simple and selfless act as donating your reusable items to a good cause or charity. When determining what to donate to charity and what to keep, try to visualize the good that can come about when others are able to put your donated items to good use. The powerful act of donating your stuff to a charity is magnified when you realize that not only are you downsizing your own home space, but you’re also keeping good quality, reusable items out of the landfill. Your one single act of downsizing has a ripple effect for your local community and the planet. It’s a win-win all. – Vets Haul Junk Removal, a junk removal company
Downsizing is not an overnight event
Downsizing is an emotionally overcharged process and can increase your stress levels if done in a rushed ad-hoc manner. Start by focusing on the practical side of downsizing. List down the benefits on a piece of paper- it
could be knocking off debt, contributing to children’s college education, or building a retirement nest. Keep this paper in an accessible place where you can refer to it quickly when overwhelmed by emotions. It is natural to feel sad about parting with your treasured belongings. To prevent the guilt from overwhelming you, focus on the prize- the items from the current home that you plan to keep rather than the belongings you are discarding. – Smita D Jai, Founder and CEO of Empower Yourself
Focus on the thoughtfulness of the person rather than the gift itself
Guilt about downsizing is often about feelings of shame or sadness when decluttering gifts from loved ones. Regarding gifts, we can remember that the value isn’t in the item itself but rather in the relationship it represents. It isn’t the gift that counts but the thoughtfulness of the person who gave it and the moment of delight that came with receiving it. Letting go of gifts is about focusing on gratitude for your relationship with the giver, not on keeping a certain material item. Remember that anyone who truly cares about you would never want you to feel weighed down or your home to feel overstuffed because of an item they gave you. – Genevieve Parker Hill, Simple Living Toolkit devoted to helping you create a simpler, experience-over-stuff lifestyle.
The bottom line
Guilt is one of the strongest barriers to letting go when you’re downsizing your possessions. We feel guilt when we let go of a gift given to us by someone that we care about. We fear that the person will feel betrayed if we let go of their gift. This protection of others’ feelings prevents us from meeting the goals of how we want to live. These fears are unrealistic, and we need to stand up to them. – Nicole Ramer, CPO®, SMM~C®, Certified Professional
Organizer® & Certified Senior Move Manager® at Haven Organizing Company in Nassau County, FL.