September 4


Why Decluttering Feels Like Climbing Mount Everest: The Surprising Reason Behind The Struggle

By Joshua Turner

September 4, 2023

Decluttering can be a daunting and overwhelming task for many people. Even the thought of it can cause anxiety and stress. But why is decluttering so hard? Understanding the reasons behind our struggle with decluttering can help us overcome these challenges and achieve a clutter-free space.

One of the main reasons why decluttering is so hard is our emotional connection to our possessions. We attach sentimental value to items, making it difficult to release them. We may also believe certain things will bring us happiness or security, causing us to hold onto them even if they are not necessary or valuable.

Another reason decluttering can be difficult is the sheer amount of clutter we accumulate over time. It can be overwhelming to tackle a large amount of clutter, and we may need help figuring out where to start. Decluttering can be time-consuming and require a lot of physical and mental energy, which can be a barrier for many people.

Key Takeaways

  • Our emotional attachment to possessions and beliefs about their value can make decluttering difficult.
  • The amount of clutter we accumulate over time can be overwhelming, and decluttering can be time-consuming and require a lot of energy.
  • Understanding why we struggle with decluttering can help us overcome these challenges and achieve a clutter-free space.

Understanding Clutter

Clutter can be defined as a collection of things that are disorganized and occupy space in a home or environment. It can include physical objects, digital files, and even emotional baggage. Clutter can result from too much stuff, lack of organization, or an emotional attachment to things.

When cluttered, a home can be overwhelming and stressful for the occupants. It can make it challenging to find things, create a feeling of chaos, and even affect mental health. Clutter can also hinder productivity and creativity.

One of the reasons clutter is so hard to deal with is that it can take time to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. People often attach sentimental value to items, making it hard to release them. Additionally, there can be a fear of losing something important or regretting getting rid of something.

Another factor that contributes to clutter is the constant influx of new items. Today’s society is bombarded with advertisements and messages encouraging us to buy more things. This can lead to an accumulation of items that are not necessary or useful.

Clutter can have a significant impact on our lives. Understand the root causes of clutter and develop strategies to manage it effectively.

The Emotional Connection

Decluttering can be difficult because of our emotional connection with our possessions. We often feel guilty for getting rid of items we no longer need or use, especially if they were expensive gifts from loved ones. Sentimental items, such as old photographs or childhood toys, can also be challenging to let go of because of the memories and emotions they evoke.


Family can also play a significant role in our reluctance to declutter. Inherited items, for example, may hold sentimental value or represent a connection to our family history. We may feel guilty for getting rid of something passed down to us, even if we don’t have a use for it.

Our possessions can also be tied to our identity. We may feel attached to certain items because they represent who we are or want to be. Letting go of these items can be difficult because it feels like we’re losing a part of ourselves.

Negative emotions, such as anxiety or depression, can make decluttering challenging. We may use our possessions as comfort or distraction, and the thought of getting rid of them can be overwhelming. Sentimental clutter can also contribute to negative emotions, as it can be a constant reminder of past experiences or relationships.

Decluttering can be challenging because of our emotional attachment to our possessions. Guilt, sentimental items, family, personal identity, and negative emotions can all contribute to our reluctance to let go of things we no longer need or use. However, we can create a more organized and peaceful living space by acknowledging these emotions and taking small steps toward decluttering.

The Struggle with Decluttering

Decluttering is a daunting task that many people struggle with. Knowing where to start, what to keep, and what to get rid of can be difficult. Declutter’s overwhelming nature can lead to stress, anxiety, and even decluttering paralysis.

Decluttering can be so hard because it requires making decisions about what to keep and what to let go of. This can be incredibly challenging for those who struggle with hoarding tendencies or have sentimental attachments to objects. The fear of making a wrong decision can lead to overwhelming stress and anxiety.

Another reason decluttering can be overwhelming is the sheer volume of items that need to be sorted through. Going through everything in a home can be daunting and lead to procrastination or avoidance.

Decluttering can also be emotionally taxing, as it often involves letting go of items with sentimental value or memories. This can lead to feelings of depression and sadness, making the task even more challenging to tackle.

Decluttering is a challenging task that can lead to feelings of overwhelm, stress, and anxiety. The emotional and physical strain of going through every item in a home can also lead to decluttering paralysis and depression. Approach decluttering with a plan and to seek help if needed to make the process more manageable.

Why We Hold Onto Things

One of the main reasons it’s so hard is that we tend to hold onto things we don’t necessarily need or use. We do this for several reasons, including sentimental attachment, fear of letting go, and habits.

Sentimental attachment is one of the most common reasons people hold onto things. We often associate memories and emotions with objects, making it hard to release them. For example, we might keep old letters or photographs from a loved one who has passed away to hold onto their memory.


Fear of letting go is another reason why decluttering can be hard. We might worry that we’ll regret getting rid of something or that we might need it. This fear can be powerful regarding items that have sentimental value or are expensive.

Habits may also be the reasons we hold onto things. We tend to accumulate items over time, or we might habitually keep things “just in case.” These habits can be hard to break, even when we know they’re not serving us well.

A scarcity mindset can also contribute to reluctance to let go of things. We might worry that we won’t be able to replace something if we get rid of it, or we might feel guilty about wasting money if we don’t use an item we’ve purchased.

Financial guilt can be a factor in why we hold onto things. We might feel guilty about getting rid of something we’ve spent money on, even if we no longer need or use it. This guilt can be extreme if we’re on a tight budget or have experienced financial hardship.

Decluttering can be tricky for many reasons, but understanding why we hold onto things can help us overcome these obstacles and create a more organized and clutter-free home.

The Benefits of a Clutter-Free Space

A clutter-free space can have numerous benefits for your lifestyle. Firstly, it helps you achieve your goal of having a clean and organized living space, which can be incredibly satisfying and motivating. This can lead to an abundance mindset, where you feel more grateful for the things you have and less inclined to accumulate unnecessary items.

A clutter-free space can promote calm and reduce stress levels. When you’re surrounded by clutter, it can be overwhelming and distracting, making it difficult to focus on tasks or relax. On the other hand, clean and organized space can help you feel more at ease and in control.

Minimalism is another lifestyle that a clutter-free space can support. Eliminating excess possessions can simplify your life and focus on what truly matters to you. This can lead to a more intentional and fulfilling lifestyle.

A clutter-free space can have practical benefits as well. Finding things when you need them can be more accessible, and cleaning becomes a more manageable task. A clutter-free space can positively impact your physical and mental health, as well as your daily life.

Getting Started with Decluttering

The first step is to set aside time to declutter. Schedule a block of time in your calendar and commit to it. Start with a small amount of time, like 15-30 minutes, and gradually increase it.

Next, identify the areas in your home that need decluttering. Make a checklist of all the areas you want to tackle and prioritize them based on which areas are causing you the most stress. Start with a small area, like a drawer or a closet, to build momentum and gain confidence.

When you’re ready to start decluttering, set a timer for your allocated time. This will help you stay focused and prevent you from getting overwhelmed. As you go through your belongings, ask yourself if each item brings you joy or serves a purpose. If not, it’s time to let it go.


Have a plan for where your items will go. Create three piles: keep, donate, and discard. Be honest with yourself about what you need and use. Remember, the goal is to simplify your life, not just to move clutter from one place to another.

Seek help or advice. Many resources, including professional organizers and online communities, can provide guidance and support. With a little knowledge and a lot of determination, you can conquer your clutter and create a more peaceful and organized home.

Overcoming Decluttering Challenges

Here are some tips to help you overcome common challenges:

Progress and Control

One of the biggest challenges people face when decluttering is feeling like they’re not making progress or losing control. Set small goals for yourself and tackle one area at a time to combat this. Breaking the task into smaller parts can help you see progress and feel more in control.

Motivation and Inspiration

Finding motivation and inspiration can be difficult when decluttering. Try listening to music or a podcast to keep you motivated. You can also find inspiration by browsing Pinterest or Instagram for ideas on organizing your space.

Letting Go

Letting go of items can be emotionally challenging. To help overcome this, ask yourself questions like “Does this item bring me joy?” or “Have I used this item in the past year?” If the answer is no, it may be time to let it go.

Overcoming Barriers

Barriers such as lack of time or space can make decluttering seem impossible. Try setting aside a specific time each day or week to work on decluttering. If space is an issue, consider renting a storage unit or donating items to charity.

Asking for Help

Decluttering can be overwhelming, and it’s okay to ask for help. Enlist the help of a friend or family member to keep you motivated and on track.

Following these tips can overcome common decluttering challenges and create a more organized and stress-free space.

Practical Decluttering Tips

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Start with achievable steps: Begin with small areas or categories of items, such as a single drawer or a particular type of clothing. This will help you build momentum and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  • Sort items into categories: Create categories for things such as keep, donate, sell, or trash. This will help you decide what to do with each item and avoid keeping unnecessary items.
  • Lead by example: If you have a family, involve them in the decluttering process and lead by example. Show them how to sort items and decide what to keep and what to let go of.
  • Get rid of excess items: If you have multiples of the same thing, consider keeping only one and donating or selling the rest. This will help reduce clutter and make it easier to organize your space.
  • Dispose of trash responsibly: As you declutter, you may come across items that must be thrown away. Make sure to dispose of them responsibly, either by recycling or taking them to a landfill.

These practical decluttering tips can make the process less overwhelming and more manageable. Decluttering is a process, and it may take time to see results. But with persistence and determination, you can create a more organized and clutter-free space.


The Role of Minimalism

Minimalism is often touted as a solution to clutter and disorganization. Many believe a minimalist lifestyle will help them achieve a more streamlined and organized home. While minimalism can help reduce clutter, it’s vital to recognize that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Minimalism can be an excellent tool for people who simplify their lives and reduce stress. Focusing on what’s truly important and letting go of excess, minimalists often report feeling more content and at peace with their surroundings.

Recognize that minimalism isn’t for everyone. Some people find that they need more stimulation and variety in their lives and that a sparsely decorated home can actually increase their stress levels.

When decluttering, consider your psychology and behaviors. Some people are naturally more prone to holding onto things, while others find it easy to let go. Understanding your tendencies can help you develop a decluttering strategy that works for you.

Another factor to consider is gifts in clutter. Many struggle to let go of items given to them as gifts, even if they no longer serve a purpose. Recognize that it’s okay to let go of gifts that no longer bring you joy or serve a purpose in your life. You can thank the giver for their thoughtfulness and then let go of the item without guilt.

While minimalism can be a helpful tool in reducing clutter and simplifying your life, recognize that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Understanding your psychology and behaviors and the gifts in clutter can help you develop a decluttering strategy that works for you.

Maintaining a Decluttered Space

Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining a decluttered space. Make decluttering a regular part of your routine. Set aside time each day, week, or month to declutter a specific area or category of items. When you declutter consistently, you’ll prevent clutter from building up and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Journaling can be a helpful tool in maintaining a decluttered space. Use a journal to track your progress, set goals, and reflect on your decluttering journey. Writing down your thoughts and feelings can help you stay motivated and accountable.

Self-care is also necessary when it comes to maintaining a decluttered space. Taking care of yourself physically and mentally can help you stay focused and motivated. Ensure you get enough sleep, eat well, and take breaks when needed. Don’t let decluttering become a source of stress or anxiety.

Social media can be a source of inspiration and motivation for decluttering. Follow accounts that share tips and ideas for decluttering and organizing. However, be mindful of how much time you spend on social media and keep it from distracting you from your decluttering goals.

Organization is key to maintaining a decluttered space. Ensure everything in your space has a designated place, and return things where they belong after using them. Storage solutions like bins, baskets, and shelves keep things organized and easily accessible. By staying organized, you’ll prevent clutter from building up again.



Decluttering can be a daunting task for many people, and there are several reasons why it can be so challenging. One of the main reasons is that it often requires us to let go of things we have an emotional attachment to, which can be difficult. Additionally, decluttering can be overwhelming, especially if we have many items to sort through.

However, decluttering can also be incredibly rewarding. Eliminating things that no longer serve us can create more space in our homes and our minds. We can also make it easier to find the things that matter most to us.

To be successful in decluttering, have a plan in place. It might involve breaking the task down into smaller, more manageable steps or enlisting the help of a friend or family member. It’s also important to be patient with ourselves and to recognize that decluttering is a process.

Ultimately, the key to successful decluttering is to stay focused on our goals and be willing to let go of things that no longer serve us. Doing so, we can create a more peaceful and organized home, which can positively impact our lives.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for overcoming decluttering paralysis?

Decluttering paralysis is a common problem many people face when decluttering their homes. To overcome this, start small by decluttering one room at a time. Set achievable goals and take breaks when needed. Try to focus on the benefits of decluttering, such as having a more organized and stress-free home.

How can I declutter when I feel overwhelmed?

Feeling overwhelmed is a common feeling when it comes to decluttering. To overcome this, break down the task into smaller, more manageable tasks. Start with a tiny area and work your way up. Take breaks when needed and try to stay focused on the end goal.

What is the psychology behind decluttering?

The psychology behind decluttering is complex and varies from person to person. Some people may struggle to relinquish possessions due to emotional attachments or fear of loss. Others may struggle with decision-making and prioritizing. Understanding your psychological barriers can help you overcome them and successfully declutter your home.

What are some strategies for extreme decluttering?

Extreme decluttering involves getting rid of a large amount of possessions in a short amount of time. To do this, start by setting a clear goal and timeline. Use the “four-box method,” sorting items into four categories: keep, donate, sell, and trash. Consider enlisting the help of a professional organizer or decluttering coach.

How can I declutter if I struggle with hoarding tendencies?

Hoarding tendencies can make decluttering even more challenging. Seek professional help from a therapist or counselor specializing in hoarding disorder. Start small, decluttering one area at a time. Consider enlisting a friend or family member for support and encouragement.

Why do possessions hold such a strong emotional attachment for some people?

Possessions can hold a strong emotional attachment for many reasons, such as sentimental value or fear of loss. Understanding the emotional attachment to possessions can help you overcome the barriers to decluttering. Try to focus on the benefits of decluttering, such as having a more organized and stress-free home.

You might also like