The Emotions of Stuff


This is part one in a six part series on decluttering.

I love Marie Kondo’s method of Tidying Up. It was the major reason I was able to finish decluttering my home and move on to a joy filled life.

While her method is straightforward and gentle and gives you a step by step process to follow, it doesn’t really talk about the emotions each category will stir up or how to navigate them. For me, each category posed its own challenges. Some categories were easier than others. Some categories stopped me dead in my tracks until I could figure out what I was feeling and how to work through it.

I had to face the fact that I had an emotion attached to each of my things. Yes, each and every single thing was charged with a positive, negative, or neutral emotion.

There is a reason why Marie Kondo has us thank our things as we let them go. I know a lot of people feel silly talking to their things and even skip this step. But it is a powerful thing to do, saying thank you. Folks say they are inanimate objects with no feelings, so it serves know purpose to thank them. But while it’s true that a stuffed animal is just a toy  made of fake fur and stuffing, it  is also a recipient of our emotions.  We may love it,  hate it, or think it’s a great memory of a time with our Dad. However we feel about it, it is imbedded with our emotions. Thanking our things makes us not only realize that we have emotions attached to all of our belongings but that we need to severe the tie of the ones we let go and embrace the ones we choose to keep. When we say thank you, we are expressing gratitude: gratitude for what we have learned from the item; gratitude for it presence in our lives; gratitude for where it came from..

I’m writing this because each week I hear from someone who is struggling with choices about their stuff. They are feeling stuck, overwhelmed, and just can’t move forward. Or, they just don’t know where to start. The thought of even beginning to tackle their things is too much to deal with.

So, I thought I would do an “emotions” blog post for each of Marie’s categories: Clothing, Books, Papers, Komono, and Sentimentals. This is about my personal interaction with each category. And even though we all feel a little differently toward our things, maybe my experience will help you move forward with your journey.

One note: You might find that the emotions I dealt with in one category, you will feel strongly about in another. The feeling are interchangeable and some times show up often. The point is they exist.

Tomorrow, I’ll start with the easy category: Clothing.

I remember thinking that clothing would be simple to tackle.

I was so wrong.


One thought on “The Emotions of Stuff

  1. “Yes, each and every single thing was charged with a positive, negative, or neutral emotion.” This is SO true. I found the process of letting go absolutely exhausting and never ending. I made it out the other side (although I am still learning and still letting go!), but the emotional rollercoaster of getting there was not easy. I totally understand why people get stuck (I’ve just written a long post on it), but there really IS a way through if you keep at it. And after reading her book, I did start saying a silent thank you to everything I donated or recycled or gave away. It sounds a little quirky, but it did make me feel better about it. Our attachment to stuff is very complex. Look forward to reading more.


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