I often check the discussions taking place on Unclutter Forums and sometimes even start a new topic myself. Recently I began a topic called The Neil Armstrong Approach to Uncluttering. This topic has attracted a reasonable amount of interest mostly due to the curiosity about the title but one comment really struck a cord with me.
Pol wrote – I’ve been decluttering regularly and it simply gets easier and easier the more I do it! “Sentimental” clutter has always been the worst with me…Â Â Â Each small step has opened my eyes to the damage I was causing myself, the stuff owned me.
Those four little words “the stuff owned me” really was an AH HA moment for me. This is often the case with a lot of the clutter we own. We feel tied to it for one reason or another like Pol writes and it gets to the stage where you don’t even really care for the stuff any more and it is virtually owning us instead of the other way around.
I personally find this situation appalling and refuse to be dictated to by clutter and I will think of those four words every time I come across one of those clutter items that for one stupid reason or another I find hard to part with and my shear stubbornness and determination will assist me to make a rational decision as to whether it makes sense to keep this item or not.
Thanks Pol I am most grateful for your words of wisdom.
ITEM 125 OF 365 LESS THINGS
Ah – the stuff owns me. I’m sure you’ve addressed it somewhere, but in my house we have the clutter that is actually owned by my in-laws. They are great collectors of “collectibles” and when they give such items, they expect us to care for them and value them as they would. My FIL once told me to return to them any items that they gave me and that I did not want rather than move them to Goodwill, etc., but as we are not on the best of terms, this sounds like an emotional death trap to me. Over the years, I have tried very hard to ask for no gifts, to ask for very specific, desired items, or to ask for consummables like wine that get used up as part of their enjoyment. Objects owned by others are a problem.
it’s nice to hear from you, welcome to my blog. This is a tricky one. Sometimes I think you just have to take a chance with relationships. Explain to them them that you are changing your lifestyle and are no longer wanting to be surrounded by possessions with no practical use. Tell them you don’t mean to offend them but that you are paring down your possessions and you not longer require the items they have given you and that you would like to give them the oportunity to have them back as requested. That it would be a shame to send them to Goodwill if they would rather have the pleasure of owning them.
This may also be the time to tell them that in future you no longer wish to receive gifts which are not consumable or practical. My parents and in-laws took it well when I asked them if we could stop echanging gifts because none of us needed anything anyway. We all send lovely cards that we make ourselves and the love and sentiment is conveyed nicely through the effort is thought we put into it.
Sometimes our imagination gets carried away with us when it comes to the reaction we think we will get when put in these kinds of situations. Let your husband do the talking as he is their child and more likely to be forgiven if it comes to that. Do the whole “we have enjoyed the items up until now but it doesn’t fit into our new lifestyle…” keeping it possitive about the items and that it is about you not about them. Read this post it is about this topic Day 106 Giving Back
That is all I can suggest, I hope it is helpful to you.