If you are working on your clutter you are no doubt very familiar with the term discarding. What you don’t keep you discard. But what does the term discard mean? According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, discard means to get rid of especially as useless or unwanted. My guess is that if you felt the item was useless or unwanted, you wouldn’t have had it in the first place. Coming to terms with the fact that you have too much stuff doesn’t necessarily mean that your view of what is useful or wanted will change. More likely, it means that you have some very tough decisions ahead of you.

What if there was another way to decrease your clutter without having to label something useless or unwanted? What would it feel like to release items rather than discard them? According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, release means to set free from restraint, confinement, or servitude. If, rather than discarding an item, you are setting it free to move on, to be used and appreciated by another, how would that impact your ability to de-clutter?

In looking again at the definition of release, this could easily apply to setting the item free as well as setting yourself free from restraint, confinement, or servitude. Clutter usually starts out under your control, but the chronic and progressive nature of issues with clutter and hoarding disorder almost always end up the other way around especially when a loss has been experienced. Consider when the last time was that you had ‘control’ over the clutter in your home. Think back to when the tipping point was, when the clutter in your home became overwhelming and unmanageable. That point at which the clutter began to control you, your thoughts, your relationships, your safety, your ability to do the things you once did or dreamed of doing. That point at which you became restrained, confined, and in servitude to your clutter.

Consider carefully what it would be like to be released from the clutter rather than living a life where your hopes and dreams have been discarded because of the clutter. What would a released life look like for you? What would a released life feel like? What would you do with that life?

Now let’s go back to the clutter, when making those tough decisions to keep or release an item, close your eyes and imagine your released life. Take a few moments to really think about it and feel it. Now look at the item again, is releasing the item so that it is free to move on, to be used and appreciated by another supporting your release too?

Marnie Matthews, MSW, LICSW

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