Why It’s So Hard to Get Rid of My Stuff

You’ve lived in your home for several years and accumulated a lot of stuff – some pieces stir deep memories while others don’t – but you still can’t get rid of them. Why not? Why is it so difficult to let go of things even if you know you need to?

The Psychology of Letting Go

One theory, called the “endowment effect,” suggests that we place more value on items once we claim ownership of them. Simply put- once it becomes “ours” it is much harder to let go of.

These findings are not solely based on behaviors towards ownership of large items like cars and homes- but even mundane ones like pens and coffee mugs. This is a challenging reality when it comes to cleaning out the stuff in your closets or considering downsizing.

The Emotions Behind It

Research has also shown that we may place value on things we own because they become an extension of ourselves, or if they were a gift, an extension of the person who gave it to us. This can further complicate the decision to get rid of things.

KonMari Method

The basic concept is that you commit to tidying things up, make a decision about your ideal lifestyle, and address your belongings by category rather than a room.

People who are ‘Kondo-ing’ it adhere to these 6 ‘rules’ of the philosophy:

  • Commit yourself to tidying up
  • Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  • Finish discarding first
  • Tidy by category; not by location
  • Follow the right order
  • Ask yourself if it sparks joy

What To Do With It All

  1. Donate or gift the item(s) to someone that will find them useful at the stage of life they are in. From churches to community groups there are likely recipients for most of the items you’ve set aside.
  2. Plan to sell it if you believe the item is worth a bit of money but beware of the endowment effect here as we often place more value on things once they become our own. Research the resale value of items online or consult with a company that does auctions or consignment to see if there is indeed a market for your item.
  3. Pass it on to a loved one if they want it – and that’s the catch. Your children and grandchildren may not want your stuff. You may find that they have no place for grandpa’s chair in their current lifestyle or don’t like the style of it. So talk to your loved ones about the items you wish to leave behind before the conversation becomes a necessity.
  4. Find a new home for things you valued but your children don’t. Just because your children don’t want that antique table you held on to doesn’t mean another younger person doesn’t want it. Passing that table onto someone who thinks it’s as beautiful as you do is a great feeling, even if the person isn’t in your family. Take a photo of it and know that it is going to be taken care of.

Whether you’re starting your spring cleaning or getting ready to make a move, Concord Reserve has resources to help you pursue the retirement lifestyle you desire. To learn more about our new, beautifully appointed apartment homes please give us a call at 440-961-3693.

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