Excuses are ingrained in us from childhood. We create reasons that stop us from taking action in any way. By not taking action, we never move forward from our current situation. The excuse we are talking about today is the 'what if' excuse or 'just in case' excuse. These excuses stop us in our decluttering tracks. They limit us from seeing solutions and actions that will simplify our lives. Today, we will share solutions to stop the 'what if' excuses in their tracks and open you up to new possibilities.
- 'Just in case' and 'what if' are very dangerous phrases.
- Determine what you can control in your life.
- We are responsible for what we collect in our lives.
- Own up to the fear of the unknown.
- Take action.
- Have an accountable person.
- Remember that we are not perfect.
- Decide what the Outcome is if you do give it away.
- Stop using the word 'But'.
- Excuses should give you a signal.
'Just in case' and 'what if' are very dangerous phrases.
Both are likely to cause many cluttered areas of our home. Looking around your home, how many things are piling up that resulted from these words? Some questions you may ask yourself that would result in an abrupt stop in decluttering are:
- What if my kids want it?
- What if my next child needs it?
- What if my grandchildren wish to have it?
- And what if I want to take up that hobby again?
- What if I give it to someone who doesn't appreciate it?
- And what if I donate it, and it goes to someone who sells it?
- What if I need the extra cables for the cable apocalypse?
- I will need this old calendar 'just in case' I have to reference it in the future.
I bet you can think of more.
Are you ready to eliminate these 'what if' and 'just in case' excuses? Read on to make a difference in your home and life.
Determine what you can control in your life.
The first solution to help combat these excuses is to determine what we can control. We can only control how we feel, how we react, what we focus on, and our attitude about all of it. Instead of looking at the things you can't control, decide on what you can control. Write a list of things you can control in your life and home and read it continuously until it becomes memorized.
***AD*** Boutique Rugs: Looking for rugs? Check out their wide variety of beautifully designed rugs.
We are responsible for what we collect in our lives.
Realize that we are responsible for the clutter in our lives, and rather than ignore it, we must focus on it and decide what to do. We make the future the way we want it.
Own up to the fear of the unknown.
We all tend to be fearful of the unknown. 'What if I need this item in the future' is just one of them. The fear will always be there. So, ask yourself, what if I need this item in the future? You may have to buy it again. Instead of buying it at full price, you could go to a second-hand store or borrow it from someone. That isn't too bad, right?
When we look at items and do not make a decision, the what if I need it comes up and stops us from doing anything about them. Making it a point to decide right away on the item will suppress the urge to say, 'but what if I need it later? Remember to take a step forward, no matter how small. Small benchmarks help us be more confident to make the next benchmark, and so on.
Have an accountable person.
Having someone who will stop you from saying 'what if' or 'just in case' when you declutter will save you time and frustration. Your process will continue because they will keep you present on the task and not allow you to fall into the 'what if I need this...' excuse. Pick someone who is truthful to you the majority of the time.
Remember that we are not perfect.
We make mistakes, and yes, if we get rid of something useful in the next 5, 10, or 15 years, we need to own up to it and say, "at the time of my decluttering, I didn't need this item. And that is OK." We are not perfect people. If you need something you got rid of years ago, those items will likely be outdated. Plus, someone else was most likely enjoying it at the time. So, was it a bad thing?
Decide what the Outcome is if you do give it away.
When we assume that all the what-ifs are super important, it stops us from making any decisions on letting go of things. So, to combat the what-if excuse, we need to look at the likelihood that the unknown will happen. To determine the likelihood, ask yourself these questions:
Determine how likely this what-if situation will occur.
If I get rid of these ....., what impact would it have on my future life? Pick a numeric number from 100% that it will happen most definitely to 0% it will likely not happen. For example, if I give away these extra cables, it is probably 10% likely that I will need them in the next year or five years. Reflect on how often you use the item now to determine how much you will use it in the future.
Decide how you will feel if you have to find the item in the future.
Now decide what will happen if your 'what if' comes true. Going back to my example above, will it be challenging to find cables in the next year or five years if I need cables? How stressed would I feel if I had to replace the item in the next year or five years?
Stop using the word 'But'.
We tend to make excuses for decluttering an area or thing in our home. Something like, "I would love to get rid of this, but...." Sound familiar? Change your sentence by removing the word 'But'. By changing how you state a wish, you will change your mindset and open yourself to the opportunity to get rid of said item.
Excuses should give you a signal.
After you recognize you 'what if' or 'just in case' excuses, it will signal that you have an underlying problem with this object or decluttering task. Examine the concern (excuse) more deeply to discover why it bothers you. The more time you spend determining your reasons, the more you will learn about yourself and what stops you from decluttering.
After taking these solutions and building them into your life, your what-if excuses will start to leave, and in their place, you will become a successful person with possibilities for everything. I hope this post motivates you to change your mindset and find new ways to combat what-if (just in case) excuses.
Please note these are affiliate links through Amazon and at no additional cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through and decide to make a purchase.
This is a helpful narrative to have on hand for guiding people through the anxiety of decluttering. It's so important to balance the what-ifs with the what is currently happening. You don't want an imagined future to get in the way of enjoying the reality of your now.
This is such an important line of thinking. So often, the "just in case..." just trails off. Just in case of what? You're going to hold onto carbon copies of checks you wrote in 1987 just in case you're audited? Do you know that the IRS doesn't accept carbon copies of checks (for many reasons, not the least of which it doesn't prove you actually gave the check to anyone; it's not a canceled check!)? Did you know they don't go back 24+ years to audit people? You're going to hold onto this printed, clipped article about housing interest rates just in case you buy a house? How long do you think these particular interest rates are this month are going to be if you buy a house six months, or six years from now. Taking the "just in case," the "what if," and the "but" to their logical conclusions definitely puts people in a stronger position to confidently make decisions. Great post.
Diane N Quintana
I like the way you challenge the reader to remove the word 'but' from the sentence. Reframing the way we look at the situation can prompt us into action. I also appreciate the idea that we all make excuses or present reasons which prevent us from taking action. Understanding how to work around those reasons or excuses is empowering. Thank you for this great post, Sabrina.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Diane!
My sister and I were talking about this recently, and we concluded that sometimes we just need someone to take it away. Even if it ultimately ends up in the trash or being sold, it's no longer ours to worry about.
At the time we were remembering a friend of my father's who took away a ton of tools that we didn't want and didn't know what to do with. We thought he was going to share them with other members of their church, but looking back (and having sifted through my sister's own tool collection), we suspect much of it was garbage and he understood we didn't have the mental energy needed to sort them out nor the emotional energy to just toss them all.
Good point! Thanks for sharing, Janet.
Language is powerful. The questions we ask can help or hinder our progress. The use of "what if" for the phrases you described can definitely prevent us from moving forward. If we allow worry or an abundance of caution to influence some of decisions around letting go, the process will get slowed or even come to a stop.
To counter balance those tendencies to make excuses or dig it, get clear on why you want to make a change. Then if one of the not-helpful questions or phrase appear, you can hold it up to your 'big why' and see if it supports it or not. That can make it easier to reframe the unhelpful questions.
Great tip, Linda! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
Excellent post! It really puts the responsibility back onto us for managing our own stuff. Your phrase, "we are responsible for the clutter in our lives" is powerful. I think a lot of the excuses are ways we try to avoid that truth.
Do we need to keep some things on hand "just in case?" Yes, for sure. But when we apply that reason too broadly, it gets us into trouble.
This post shows that we aren't powerless in the face of an overwhelming situation. There are steps we can take. That is so important to remember.
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Seana! I totally agree.
Thinking that we might need this item someday paralyzes a lot of people and keeps them from decluttering. I like to tell my clients that if you get rid of 50 items and you do need to go back and repurchase two of them - you are way ahead!
Great point! Thanks for sharing, Jonda!