The deep-rooted pain of decluttering

I will never forget the overwhelming emotions of having to pack up my beautiful waterfront home in Westport, Ct for a summer in 2006. With 4 small children, a looming deadline and a need for more money, I felt paralyzed. What was worse is that I felt embarrassed, ashamed and completely clueless how much it would hurt inside. So much so, that I packed it all up into boxes, bags, and bins in the attic, locked the door and left. I could not deal with the decisions on the junk, the toys, the clothes, and the papers. When I came home Labor Day weekend, I was presented with an unsurmountable pile of clutter. I promised myself that I would no longer live this way…..It was time to “clear it up.”

Why is it so hard for so many to let go and get their homes organized? “It’s not about time management. It’s about avoiding negative emotion,” said Timothy Pychyl, a psychologist at Carleton Universityi in Ottawa, who has studied procrastination for 27 years. “Putting off the task allows us to put off the emotions.”

Here are some tips to help you declutter and understand your emotions once and for all:

Be okay with the way things are- Instead of filling your mind with the same story, what you can do is acknowledge the situation and be prepared for the future.

Stop blaming others- This is a biggie! Inheriting things and feeling guilty about discarding it is not okay. A gift is yours to do with it what is good for you and your family. Most family patterns of collecting/hoarding can be broken. Take your role in the situation, and put it behind you.

Focus on joy right now-Try focusing on the items in your home that bring joy. Not the feelings of guilt, sadness, shame or fear. If they do trigger any of these emotions, they are goners!

Regret- Can sometimes show up as physical clutter when you’re holding onto expensive items that you aren’t using. Perhaps you thought you’d use it. It seemed like it would improve your life, but it didn’t. Then you have a hard time letting it go because of the money you spent. Here’s the thing …. the money is already gone regardless.

Allow yourself to seek professional help- Professional organizers help clients create more space, more time, and improve storage and functionality of the home or office. Who knows, maybe it’ll even help with something you didn’t even know you were struggling with. We all could use a little help these days….and it is okay to ask.

Amy is a Compass/Westport Realtor and the owner of She has been helping folks downsize/declutter/sell to make them happier with more space for her clients since 2008. Whether it’s an organizing/decluttering job or a full service move “your clutter to your close” real estate transaction, Amy and her team can do it all.

Please e mail or call Amy at or
203 984 7653.

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Get 6 hours of decluttering at no charge if you list your home with Amy @Compass ( $750 value ).