Decluttering Tips for People Who Love Stuff [Episode 5]

What do you do if you LOVE stuff but you know you have too much and need to declutter? You listen to this episode of The Simply + Fiercely Show. As someone with an (ahem) strong appreciation for material possessions, I’ve learned to balance my love of stuff with my need for less—and you can too.

In this Episode:

  • 3 decluttering tips for people who love stuff
  • The surprising relationship between joy and clutter
  • Why you “love stuff” and how to fall out of love

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Introduction of the episode

Hello, everyone, it’s Jen here and welcome to episode five of the Simply and Fiercely Show. In today’s episode, we’re going to be talking about decluttering tips for people who love stuff. Okay. And I know that might sound like a bit of a strange topic or quite a specific topic. So before I dive in with the decluttering tips, I thought I would just take a second to share my inspiration for this episode. And why I felt it was necessary to, to talk about decluttering from this very specific point of view of people who love stuff. 

The inspiration why I want to tackle the issue about decluttering.

So as some of you may know, I have been doing work with decluttering and minimalism for sevenish years now. So even though this podcast is relatively new, I’ve had a website where I’ve been blogging since 2015. Little shout out, it’s https://www.simplyfiercely.com/, if you want to check it out. And in addition to the website, I have been teaching decluttering courses since 2017, perhaps, I’m not sure but, but the point is, it’s been quite a few years that I’ve been investing a lot of time and energy and thought, thinking about decluttering and minimalism, on top beyond my own personal experience, which is over 10 years now, of sort of embracing a minimalist lifestyle. So as part of that, one thing I often do is, I do a bit of research, right? I just want to see what other people are saying about decluttering and minimalism. Not so much, I guess, maybe to hear what other people have to say, but just to hear what people are struggling with, so that I can better serve my audience. And so what I’ll do is I’ll go onto social media, sometimes, like Instagram, or Facebook groups, and just see what kind of questions people have. And one thing that I’ve noticed is that when someone asks a question, so you’re, you’re in a Facebook group, for example, and you’re like, Oh, I’m really struggling to declutter, XYZ, you know, does anyone have any advice for what I should do? And of course, there’s like, a million things that people say, but sometimes there is a very much, I say it like a very anti stuff sentiment, okay. Where people are very much like, oh, you know, you just shouldn’t care or, you know, stuff’s just not important. And, yes, these things are true. I think I’ve talked about this in another episode. So sorry, for repeating myself, like, Yeah, this is true.

Jennifer’s eight month hiatus from shopping.

But for some people, you know, it’s not that easy, right? We – some people love stuff. And another example of that, actually, I’ll just share something that I posted on Instagram recently. I’m currently in the middle of a year-long shopping ban. And I wrote a blog post about it. So I’ll share that in the show notes. I don’t want to hijack this episode. But basically, I’m eight months in, I’m trying to go a year without buying any clothes, whether they’re new or secondhand. And so I posted about it on Instagram. And I said, you know, could you go a year without buying any clothes? And so the feedback that I got, like the comments and the DMS that were very, very mixed. There were some people who are like, ‘Oh, that’d be really hard’. You know, like, maybe I could, but you know, it’d be a bit of a struggle. And then there was also surprisingly, quite a lot of people who were like, ‘Yeah, no worries, that wouldn’t be a problem for me’, like, I only buy what I need. And you know, I don’t buy excess stuff, etc. So I guess just seeing those comments just kind of really drove home in my brain that there are two types of people in the world.  

The two types of people on their  perception about stuff e.g the difference between Jennifer and her husband.

There are people who just can be detached from stuff, right, they see it as like,  a means to an end. They’re very naturally minimalist. I think I’ve mentioned this before, my husband is very much like that, like, he moved from England to Australia, just with one bag. And it wasn’t like a stress or drama for him. And he buys stuff when he needs it, but it’s just, it’s so rare. So rare, in fact, I should probably try and get him to buy some new clothes. But he just doesn’t care about stuff, right. And so the people who fall into that camp, the type of advice that works for them is a little bit different from people who love stuff. And I can say that because I am the type of person who loves stuff. You know, even though now, like obviously, I identify as minimalist, but I still really enjoy things.  Like I have a good friend who will, you know, send me photos whenever she finds cute shoes or, you know, cute things for the kids. And I’m like, Oh my gosh, like, um, you know, heart face emojis all over the place. I appreciate stuff  and  I love stuff, right? I love just enjoying stuff. So, for me, I had to take a really different approach to decluttering and minimalism than perhaps, everyone. I may, I guess we’re all unique, right? We all have our own different personalities. But anyway, what I thought I’d do, that long intro was just to explain that I think that there’s some people who love stuff more than others. And they need to take a slightly different approach to decluttering. 

The three tips for decluttering

Tip number 1 – Be really picky about the stuff that you love.

My tip number one, my decluttering. Tip number one for people who love stuff is to get really, really clear on what you like, to the extent that you’re almost being snobby. Okay? So, okay this snobby is not a very nice word. So people don’t really resonate with that. Perhaps I should say discerning, right? You want to develop a really discerning taste. Okay. And I’ll just explain how this works by sharing sort of my, an example from my life. As a former Shopaholic, who was once addicted to buying clothes, one of the things that helped me declutter, as well as a slit on my shopping, was to get really, really picky about fabrics. Okay, so, back in the old days, you know, flash back like 12 years now, I used to buy a ton of fashion, not really proud of it, I know it’s horrible for the earth. But you know, that’s, that’s the type of person who I used to be. And a ton of what I own was like polyester or polyester blends. And I just want to say that I don’t want to shame anyone for what you buy, or what’s in your closet. Obviously, it’s a personal choice. But what I realized for me is that I didn’t really feel my best wearing these items. Most of the things that were kind of like poly blends, are the kind of clothes that I’d wear once or twice. I’d like the way that they looked on the hanger or the way that they looked in the shop. But when I actually spent like a full day wearing, you know, a polyester shirt, or I just didn’t feel my best, right. So one thing that I did, that helped me become more minimalist, helped me declutter, helped me save a ton of money on shopping, was to become a snob about fabrics. Okay, so what I did is I realized, there’s certain ones that I really love, like, I love the way linen feels, I like silk. I like like 100% cotton. Those are the things I was wearing the most anyway. So I just trained my brain to, not even just prefer those clothes, but to get snobby about it. To be like, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t care to have that stuff in. Again, not judging anyone else. But I’m just saying you can use this hack to kind of train your brain to only love certain things, right? So then if you were the type of person who loves stuff, when you’re decluttering, you just kind of fall out of love.  I guess it’s one way to say it’s like you fall out of love with certain things, and then it’s easier to get rid of them. So now, I will just say that, I find this tip really, really helpful, like the snobby or you can get about what you like, the easier it is to get rid of certain things. But I will say that it’s sometimes hard to implement this. Like when I tell people about that they’re like a bit uncomfortable, because our brains have sort of been trained, that being snobby is a really bad thing. And of course, like being snobby in general is not very nice, I would say. But like you’re very in this case, you’re using it in a very specific way. And it’s not to be judgmental or mean to other people. It’s just to help you curate your desires, if you’re the type of person who desires everything, this is a way of scaling it back, right? And I also just want to say that like if you are scared of the idea on some level of being snobby, I think it’s helpful to think of it or if you to think of it a bit like people pleasing, okay. So for example, you know how some people sometimes met, probably sometimes you, you want to be nice, so you don’t like to say no to people who feel a bit guilty, right? Like if people ask you to do something, oh, it’s like, Yes, I’ll do it for you. Because you know, you don’t want to be a bad person. You want to be helpful. But if you say yes to everything, you know, obviously you reach a point where you’re overextended and you’re exhausted and you feel like you’re, you know, being taken advantage of, and you just, you just ended up getting a walked over, right. So, if you think of that perspective, if you think of that and analogy and then you think about your stuff. You know, if you’re trying to see the best and everything you own, if you love everything, and, and as a byproduct that you know, you keep everything because you you’re trying to see the best and you might use it someday, then you end up overwhelmed with clutter, right? It’s kind of like the clutter version of people pleasing,. You have to put up some boundaries. So the way to do it, as I said, if you’re the type who loves stuff, I would definitely recommend that you give this a try instead of trying to force yourself like not to care about certain things when you’re decluttering because it doesn’t come very naturally. At least it didn’t come very naturally to sort of my personality type. And if you’re the type who loves stuff, I’m going to assume that we’re sort of similar, you can try and go in the opposite direction and just embrace that you love stuff, just get really particular and really specific about what it is that you’d love. Okay. So that’s tip number one. 

Tip number 2 – Indulge only in things that you love, more than stuff.

My tip number two, for people who love stuff, is to really indulge in things that you love more than stuff. Okay, so what I mean by this is, if you are the type of person who really loves stuff, I think it’s not a huge jump to say that your personality might be someone who’s quite indulgent, who enjoys the pleasures of life, right? I can say, that’s definitely me. I am 100%, a pleasure seeker. For anyone who follows the Enneagram. I’m not an expert in it. But if you’ve not heard of it, it’s like this personality test. I am a Enneagram  seven. And from what I understand about these tests is that like, the type seven is just the type of person who just wants to feel good. So we do things, and we buy things, and we chase things that make us feel good, right? That is my innate personality. And as like a side effect of that, like, I’m not a very disciplined person, I have a very hard time like making myself do things I don’t want to do. So if that resonates with you, and sometimes you have to be honest with yourself, because sometimes like I don’t really like to admit those, it sounds makes me sound a bit shallow. But if I’m honest with myself, that is my personality type, right? So you have two options. If you’re like me, you can try and go against your natural instincts, your sort of natural behavior and force yourself to declutter. And so that’s what I tried to do for a very long time, I thought that I could just like you sheer will and just like effort to create the lifestyle I wanted. But if any of you have listened to an episode, or one of the show, where I share my minimalists and decluttering story, you will know that that did not work for me. Okay. As I said, I just kept forcing myself to do things that I don’t want to do. And so I spent several years actually like trying to declutter and making no progress. So essentially, what I realized is, hey, why don’t we work smarter? And not harder, right? Why don’t I work with what comes naturally for me? Instead of trying to force myself into being someone I’m not? Okay. And so, with regards to decluttering, what I needed to do is I needed to find something that I loved more than stuff, right? It’s like a perspective shift. It’s kind of like, I’m hesitant to share this analogy, because I don’t want to make it out, like decluttering is some kind of life changing thing. But let’s just say like, you know, if you had a near death experience, right, or you had someone who you were close to got really ill or something. You know how, if you go through that experience, all of a sudden, you’re gonna look at your life differently, and you’re gonna be like, Oh, my God, like, the other day, I was obsessing over, like whether I should get two or three T shirts off the clearance rack at Target. And today, my whole life feels different. And now those T shirts feel insignificant. It’s kind of like that, right? Obviously, I’m not saying that decluttering is life or death, right? But if you can indulge in the things in life that are more, let’s say more joyful, right? The decluttering or sorting, not in cluttering then clutter or then stuff. It’s just going to give you that perspective shift. Okay? So like, for example, for me, I am very passionate about travel. I love travel. I love food. I hate cooking, but I love eating. I really love, I’m not like a huge beauty person, but I love going to the spa. I love like beauty treatments. I love spending time outdoors. I love indulging in like creative hobbies. All of these kinds of things are the things that make me feel alive, right? Like when I’m doing this, I’m like, life just feels great. It’s kind of like when you go on holidays or vacation. You know, the Americans you know, like if you’re out you’re having a good time. You’re just like, all those things that I thought were important just don’t matter. It’s that same kind of thing, right? So the more that I do things, that I make a real conscious effort to do things that I enjoy, the easier it is to declutter because these decisions just don’t seem that important. And I’m like, Oh, I don’t want to keep this. And I’m like, who cares, right? I don’t love uhm,  I guess if we go back to the title of this episode, right? If you’re the type of person who loves stuff, if you are filling your heart, and your joy and your life with these pleasurable activities, you just love stuff less. So it become naturally easier to declutter. Okay. Now, one thing I will say is that this topic of just enjoying yourself, and learning to enjoy life more, is so important. And it’s not even just for decluttering, I actually think that it is related to why a lot of people have so much clutter in the first place. What I think is that our lives have gotten busy, right? Everybody is busy. Even if, I’m not as busy as a lot of people, I’ve put a lot of effort into being less busy. But everyone’s got things to do, right? We can’t escape that we’ve got kids and work and bills, and you all these adulting things that get into our life. And so sometimes uhm, it’s hard to make ourselves do things that are fun, right? So I’ll give you an example I live in, I live in a high rise apartment complex and one of the reasons we chose this building is that there is a beautiful resort style pool here, right? It’s like, not just the pool, it’s got like a sandy beach, and I’ve got palm trees, and there’s fountains, it’s just, it’s like a little oasis in the city. It’s so lovely. And when I first moved here, I was like, Oh, I’m gonna go down there all the time. And just like sit by the pool. You know, again, like, if we go back to the analogy of saying, like, you know, when you’re on holidays, like you’re on vacation, you just go sit by the pool for a bit, even if it’s not long, you know, just for a few minutes or for dinner, and you feel so relaxed, right? So that’s how I sort of envisioned I was going to live when I moved here. But in reality, right, I always catch myself thinking that I don’t have enough time. And in my brain, I’m like thinking, oh, we’ll I’ve got things to do, I don’t have all afternoon to spend lounging around the pool. So I just don’t bother going, where in reality, I could have easily gone and spent like 20 minutes, just getting a bit of sunshine, you know, just relaxing for a bit. But in my head, I told myself that I don’t have enough time to do that. Right. So bringing this back to clutter and how this has to relate to, you know, decluttering and why our lives have so much clutter in the first place. What I think has happened is, our brains tell us that we’re too busy. So we have stopped doing little things that bring us joy. And so what we do instead is, we get little jolts of joy by shopping. Okay, because shopping is such a quick high, isn’t it right? You like buy something you get like a little buzz of joy. And now with like, obviously internet shopping, or you can be Amazoning, not that I don’t know, if you use an app, it’s like a one swipe and you buy something like you can buy something in under a minute. It’s insane. Or just for like some reason and our brains I’ve noticed it like the idea of going down and spending a half hour just sitting by the pool. I’m I don’t have enough time. But the idea of just like popping into Target for 20 minutes, that sounds very manageable in our minds. So what we’ve, we’ve started doing is we’ve used shopping and making little purchases as a way to fill the hole in our lives, that were,  that’s there because we’re not out doing joyful things. We’re not doing things, you know, like reading a book, going for a walk, these other little things that make us happy. But we just don’t think we have enough time. And so yeah, I’m going a bit on a tangent, this is all related to decluttering. But I guess it’s a bigger story of like, how did we end up in this place? How are we living in this time where everybody is struggling so much with clutter. And I think that on some level, we have lost the skill of enjoying ourselves. And so even though that might not, working on that skill, developing that skill, getting out there having fun enjoying your life, it may not seem relevant to decluttering, but I 100% promise that it is.  The more that you do that the more that you enjoy living best you can, you know, within your reality, acknowledging that people have bills and responsibilities and jobs or whatever. But just in the pockets of your day. The more that you practice just doing things that make you happy. I think the bond the connection, the love that we feel for stuff, it weakens, right? And so as a result, not only do we buy less, but decluttering becomes easier. Again, you just love, you fall out of love with your stuff again. And so decluttering is less of a drama. Okay, so actually even if you don’t love stuff, I honestly think that there’s probably not anyone today, who doesn’t need to practice just enjoying life more. And as a result, I think that’s just a powerful way to sort of break those sort of consumer ties for stuff. 

The last decluttering tip – getting clarity on why you love stuff. (…What are you trying to cover?)

Okay, so moving on, I want to share my last decluttering tip for people who love stuff. And this is a really big one, but it’s a little bit out there. So just bear with me for a moment. You need to get clear on why you love stuff. Okay? So you might feel a little bit of, like backlash at that and be like, What are you talking about? And trust me, I get that too. because that’s how, like, if you said that to me, 15 years ago, I’d be like, whatever, like, What are you talking about? You’d rather but it’s a bit of tough love. Okay, so I can only say this. As I said, I’ve been blogging for seven years. And part of blogging, for me, has been very personal. So I’ve pretty much put my life, my feelings, my relationship with clutter, under a microscope, and I’ve dissected everything. And what I have found is that part of the reason why I really love stuff, why I feel the strong attachment to stuff is because for me, and this might not be your story. But I think everyone has a story. Meaning that I use the stuff in my life as a mask, okay? So it is a way to protect me from the things that I feel insecure about. So for example, if I feel insecure about my appearance, right, I can buy certain clothes or buy makeup to make myself feel better. Or if I feel insecure about, like how successful I am, you know, it’s my job title good enough to make enough money, I can buy something that kind of signals wealth, or if I feel insecure about my skills as a parent, right? I can go drop a couple $100 on these like fancy educational toys. And then I’m like, oh, pat on the back right now. I feel like a good mother. Okay. And so part of why I love stuff, is coz for me, that’s the those things are more than stuff, they represent to me who I am, right, they like represent, like, those toys. I’m actually in the middle right now of doing some toy decluttering. And like, it’s really hard sometimes because like, I look at those toys. And to be clear, it’s not like super obvious, I’m not some kind of, you know, non-human person who looks at everything in my life, like it’s feelings. But if I, if I spend a lot of time sort of really reflecting, why is it so hard for me to get rid of something, I realized it’s because, you know, sometimes it’s fear. Like, if I’m getting rid of these toys that I adore, I absolutely love them. They’re beautiful. And it’s because to me, those toys are like signaling that I’m a good mother, right? And if I get rid of them, I’m like, oh, there’s that vulnerability, but I don’t have the stuff to protect me. Okay, so you, your relationship with stuff might be different. In fact, you know, everybody’s relationship with or sorry, everyone’s relationship with stuff is very different. But what I encourage you to do is just realize that loving stuff isn’t necessarily your identity or your personality. Okay, but that used to be me, I used to think that like, I’m Jen, I’m Jen, the shopper. I’m the Jen who loves shoes, right. And probably eleven people around me 15 years ago used to think that about me, but that’s not actually who I am. That’s not some sort of like, innate part of my personality. Instead, my love for shoes and my love for stuff is kind of a response, a response to things that are going on in my head by you know, the stories and beliefs from my past that has created an environment where I love stuff. And so when you realize this, when you start to unravel your relationship with stuff, then you can start to change it. Okay. So, you know, even perhaps what I said sort of towards the start of this podcast isn’t quite correct, where I was saying, like, I’m the type of person who loves stuff. Perhaps more accurate would be that I used to be the type of person that loves stuff. But I think over time in the work that I’ve done in the past decade, I have evolved to be the type of person who appreciates stuff. Okay? So for example, I can see beautiful things, you know, the things that my friend will send me and I can look at these pictures and I can adore them, and I can really appreciate them, but I no longer crave them or need them. Okay, that’s, that’s a big difference. Like if I look at my older version of myself, I would see a picture of shoes that I thought was beautiful. And then I would start to feel like I need those shoes in my life and it would be like obsessive until I would go out and buy them.

Jennifer’s realization from loving stuff to appreciating stuff. (…Changing your relationship with stuff.)

But now I’ve, through working through my relationship with stuff, I’ve learned that to appreciate something without needing it, that, that love has been downgraded to appreciation. And you know that, that obviously helps me shopping, I buy a lot less stuff than I used to. But obviously, it applies to decluttering as well. I think that, like shopping and decluttering are just two sides of the same coin. When you sort of change your relationship with stuff, you buy less, but also you find it easier to let go. Okay, so if you are someone who loves stuff, examine that relationship, and see if you can break it down and get to the point where you can start to view a beautiful thing as just a beautiful thing. That has nothing to do with who you are as a person. And then it becomes that much easier to declutter. Okay, so those are my tips, those are my top tips for decluttering when you love stuff, and really, one thing I’ll say is that so much of this is just all about clarity. I really believe that clarity is key to decluttering. When you get clear on what you want from your stuff, when you get clear on what you want from life, when you get clear on why you are in love with stuff or what your relationship with stuff is, that clarity is the key to decluttering

The program Clear Your Clutter

And for anyone who’s interested, that is actually part of the work that we do in my group program.  I have a group decluttering program called Clear Your Clutter.  I open it twice a year. So their next enrollment is going to be in July. And with my program, the people who join are really the type of people who’ve already tried everything, quote, unquote, you know, they’ve read a lot of blogs and podcasts and books or even taking other courses, but they find that nothing is really working for them. And I think that what sets my program apart, and the feedback that I’ve got is because we spend so much time getting to the heart of why you have clutter,with like, it’s like, like a diagnosis, like if you think that you’re going to the doctor and trying to figure out, you know, why do I have a cough? Well, it’s because there’s something underneath the surface that needs to be treated. And that’s kind of the work that we do in the program, we get to the heart of your clutter so that we can clear the clutter from the roots. And it’s not just about getting, you know, rid of a few bags and getting it out the door. Instead, it’s really about creating a new lifestyle, which is completely changing your relationship with stuff, which is so powerful, right? Because it’s not just about owning less, it’s about figuring out what you want most out of life, and then taking the steps to create that lifestyle. It’s about decluttering,  the course’s decluttering course. But really, it’s because decluttering is a tool that helps you with your lifestyle design. So if that sounds like something that you’d like to learn more about, you can go to simply fiercely.com/clearyourclutter, go to that page and you can get on the waitlist, so that you’d be first to be notified about the program. And you can also read a bit more about that there. As I said, doors are going to open in early July, so it’s not long now. 

Closing

Okay, so thanks for your time. That’s all for today. I will be back in a few weeks with more decluttering talk about decluttering minimalism. Take care. Thanks for your time. Bye

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