Question of the Week: I know you write about clutter to help people let go of old energy. Can you help me actually “let it go?” My problem is that I have the time and energy, just not the strategy to literally get it out the door! I’m so attached to my stuff. Please help me!

I completely understand where you are coming from. Most people, especially those who are sentimental, have this same problem as you. The following tips address some common thoughts that typically prevent us from letting go, and the best strategy I’ve found to deal with them.

“I can’t get rid of this because it was a gift.” Strategy: See the item as an object, not a gift. When you are sifting through the gifts you’ve been given, ask yourself the following: “Do I love, use or need this item?” If your answer is no, depending on its condition, you can sell, donate, re-gift or discard the item. Keep your focus on the intent to de-clutter.


“I can’t get rid of this because I might need this later.”


You need to decide exactly when “later” would be. When you see something that you don’t use and immediately think, “I may need this someday,” ask yourself, “Realistically, when will I need or use this?” If you can’t come up with a specific date, assign a date six months from now, put the items in a box, and write the date on the outside of the box. If “someday” (the date on the box) comes and you haven’t used those items, pick up the box, put it in your car and drive straight to a donation station.

“I can’t get rid of this because I paid a lot of money for it.”

Accept that keeping the item will not minimize your guilt or increase the item’s value. Accept your losses and move on. If you subconsciously feel guilty for spending so much for — and not using — the item, the guilt won’t help you start using it, nor will it increase its value.

“I can’t get rid of this because someday I’ll have a garage sale and sell the item.”

Try to find an alternative home for the item. I see “garage sale syndrome” often. For some, a garage sale works, but for others it is an excuse not to act. While garage sales are a way to turn your things into cash, ask yourself if the burden is worth it for you. If letting go is difficult for you, a garage sale may be difficult. Instead, find a charity to donate your items to.


Send questions to Alice Inoue is the founder of Happiness U.