My friend Serena feels guilty about everything. In high school she was wracked with guilt over a dream she had about her sisters boyfriend! She feels bad about things she has no control over. She feels guilty about things she hasn’t even done!
So guess what else she feels bad about? Decluttering.
Ugh. Guilt. It sucks. It holds us back from making healthy decisions. It’s a massive waste of energy when it keeps us going around in circles, wishing for things and hating ourselves and not doing the things we want and need to do.
Serena and I were tackling her jam-packed gift cupboard. You know, the place where unwanted perfectly good gifts of bubble bath and scented candles go when we don’t like them.
Whew did some of them pong!
And some were so old, Selena couldn’t remember who gave them to her. And that was why they were still there. She was terrified she’d regift them back to the same person who gave them to her in the first place! And then she’d feel TERRIBLE. And what if they asked where it was!!!! She turned a bit pale at the thought.
As I gently prised her fingers from a bottle of body spray gifted by her sister in 2002 I asked her these three questions:
Why was this gift given?
Giving is for the giver. Gifts are not meant to be burdens, so don’t let your guilt weight you down. The gifts served their purpose. They made the giver feel good! You are under no obligation to keep them. You are free to get rid of them in any way you choose.
Who can I give this to?
Donating simply makes us feel good. There are so many choices! Is there a local community organisation you’d like to support? A local Op Shop? (when this is over.) Could you make a neighbourhood swap table at the end of your gate? (You’d have to sanitise them at the mo though!)
What is my priority?
It is OK to prioritise the spaces in your house for your delight, pleasure and ease. It’s YOUR house! It’s supposed to be a pleasure and a delight and easy to live in! It’s NOT a storage unit for all the things other people think you’d like or should have.
Serena did an amazing job of converting 3/4 of her smelly gift cupboard to a craft and stationery hub for her growing twins. All it took was my gentle but firm unconditional support of her vision for HER home. And telling herself to “toughen up buttercup!” (her favourite phrase when she knew she was doing the right thing, but struggling.)
She got so many hugs from her twins, her partner and me because we all knew how hard it was for her. But she did it!