The Emotional Cost of Clutter:

by Carole Bourne

We all have an emotional attachment to our stuff. Sometimes healthy and sometimes very unhealthy. The trick is to take an honest look at everything that you own and decide how it makes you feel, why you keep and the emotional cost it has on the flow of your life.


How attached are you to your stuff?

  • The more often you look or think about the item (of clutter) the stronger your connection
  • The more hesitant you are about removing that item of clutter the stronger your connection.
  • The longer you have had that item of clutter the stronger your emotional connection.
  • The more painful the memory associated with that item of clutter the stronger your emotional connection.
  • The more fearful you are about getting rid of that item of clutter the stronger your emotional connection.


Types of emotional clutter:

1. Emotional guilt clutter:
Usually gifts that are not liked come under emotional guilt. You keep them because they were a gift and would feel guilty if you gave them away. Shift your thinking to conscious sharing by giving away your unwanted gifts to those who really would value and appreciate them.

2. Fear of lack clutter:
You keep all kinds of stuff just in case. Just in case you might need it some day and just in case you couldn’t afford to buy another one. The fact that you haven’t used it in 2, 3 or 5 years doesn’t matter there is an underlying energy of lack. The energy of abundance means things are constantly coming into and going out of your life. Once you stop them going out of your life you stop the flow of abundance.

3. Unhappy relationship attached to clutter:
Keeping stuff from past unhappy relationships keeps you locked in the past, prevents new relationships coming along or weakens your current relationship. It also keeps a part of you tied to that unhappy relationship.

4. Depression clutter:
People with depression tend to have a lot of things stored on the floor. Stuff on the ground pulls your energies down and encourages you to withdraw from the world emotionally.

5. Addiction clutter:
Compulsive buying for the sake of it and addicted to sales and bargains without any thought or intentional purpose simply adds to the congestion and confusion already filling your home and life.

6. Need to impress clutter:
You feel your sense of self worth is reflected by the appearance and value of your living space. You might not even like any of your decorations or furniture pieces but they are the best and the most expensive and you feel if people like your stuff then they will like you.

7. Unhappiness clutter:
Buying stuff to make you feel happy again is a quick fix solution. It does not bring deep long lasting satisfaction to your life and the item you bought only brings happiness momentarily. Unhappiness clutter can then turn into guilt clutter when you realize a few days later you don’t really need it and feel guilty for buying it.

8. Emotional hiding behind your clutter:
Often people overcrowd their homes with so much stuff that they use it as a kind of shield to hide their true selves from the world. It keeps the attention away from them and directed towards all their hundreds and hundreds of nick knacks.

9. Denial clutter:
You refuse to believe that you actually have clutter. You keep acquiring more things but make no connection to the fact that it is clutter. You are in absolute denial that you never use it. Denial clutterers are often scared of change and believe their whole world would fall apart if they begin removing anything from their home.

10. Inherited clutter:
What can I say, its not yours, you didn’t ask for it and unless you absolutely love it then you shouldn’t have it in your home.

Hope you enjoyed this post and please know, you are welcome to email me anytime for a chat or to ask a question.  I’ll do my best to help.

My email is

Peace, love and chocolate, Carole


On my bedside table:

Judith Lasater has been teaching restorative yoga for over 20 years.  Her book is a great place to start learning oreven fine tune your Restorative Yoga postures.  It covers postures for headaches, menopause, stress, back pain, pregnancy and more.  I so love this book-  Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times.


Subscribe via email or rss feed and receive Carole’s weekly posts

You can also grab Carole’s daily rejuvenation tip by clicking here

Or Click here to zoom back over to Rejuvenation’s Lounge front page


I Quit Sugar Cookbook:

Sarah Wilson, health practitioner, writer and TV presenter quit sugar as an experiment to support the health of her auto-immune disease. She noticed such a huge change to her health and emotions that she wrote an e-book and cookbook about it.  Click here to check it out




{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Suzie Cheel March 5, 2008 at 10:45 pm

I relate so closely to this. Last night I took my head out of the sand and started to tackle so very overdue accounts and paperwork.
Today I feel so much lighter.

I have powered ahead today getting all our dead/great domain names that we have come up with over the years with some content and adsense on so the can become realestate of some value.

I love the wonderful clutter categories.



Healthy Living March 6, 2008 at 4:54 am

Thanks Suzie,

Glad you got some inspiration.

Peace, love and chai tea



Alison March 6, 2008 at 8:40 am

I love the clutter categories, too.
I find it amazing how strong the emotional connections to some kinds of clutter can be! There are some things in my home that logically I can identify as unnecessary clutter, but still I find them hard to get rid of.
Thanks for the gentle push in the right direction :)


Karly Pitman March 6, 2008 at 10:39 am

What a great article! I love the different clutter categories; I could relate to many of them. It helped me understand why some things are so easy for me to clear out of my home/life, and others are tricker.



Healthy Living March 7, 2008 at 5:27 pm

Hi Alison and Karly,

I agree when you start to break down the different kinds of clutter it soon becomes obvious where the most blocks are in our life.

May the flow be with you.



Sueblimely March 12, 2008 at 5:26 pm

I had never thought of my clutter in these terms before but I am certainly hoarding a lot of things that we have no use for anymore because of emotional attachment. Some I would not get rid of – old “art” creations of the children when they were young etc but I know there is much more I should let go of.

Thanks, this has spurred me on to create space for all the things I do not have a cupboard for that are piled in a spare room.


Duncan March 13, 2008 at 8:34 am

Moving house recently brought the challenge of making decisions about clutter. We’re now enjoying the ‘less is more’ approach.


clutterluver August 10, 2008 at 2:14 am

I LOVE MY CLUTTER!! I get tired of the obsessiveness for regular people to declutter. Mind you I am not talking about those with disposophobia or similiar ailments. I think declutter is another marketing mecca.
I have a one bedroom apartment with a small child. I want a two bedrooms because guess where the “playroom” is. Am I harping about it? yes-but thanks to cancer there isnt a whole lot I can do to get a two bedroom. It is an irritation to have others comment on my too much stuff rooms that I take with grace. But the thing I enjoy is to walk into someones house and admire their stuff!!! Its fun!
Want a layman’s test of clutter? Go to a friend’s house who has got less clutter than you and stay the weekend. If you dont want to get back home then its time to declutter.
Thanks for letting me bark. I hope to find more home sites that have lots of clutter and are looking good.


asithi August 15, 2008 at 6:32 am

My clutter problem is in my closet. I cannot seem to throw anything away. I still have clothes from when I was high school, that I cannot fit and will never wear again.

My husband and I get into de-clutter mode once every three years or so where we get rid of lots of miscellaneous things. And we enjoy this “less is more” feel for a while and then we go back to shopping for shells or trinkets when we go on trips. I guess it is human to collect.


katie March 16, 2009 at 7:54 pm

I LOVE MY CLUTTER! I am out of the closet and guilt-free!!!


Gabby April 21, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Wow…I can’t even begin to express how much of this article describes me. I’m finally trying to deal with this “clutter” issue and, let me tell you, it is HARD! Even junk I don’t want or like…it feels scary and painful to get rid of it. Much less things that I like or bought when I wanted to get into a new hobby, or that was expensive, and on and on.

I just discovered your blog and I feel that it is really speaking to me at a deep level at a time when I need it very much. Thank you!!


S. May 8, 2010 at 9:37 am

Saw your article posted on a shopping blog and just wanted to tell the author great job! When you explain it like this, it’s easier to part with the clutter. Thanks!


MJ October 13, 2010 at 5:18 am

I’m currently trying to get rid of things from high school and college (10 years ago!)…. how do you know what is “memorabilia” and what is just baggage?? What about drawings that a friend did in high school that have no value to me, but may be a treasure to her or her family? Is it worth tracking her down on facebook to send them?


cllutter free living December 5, 2010 at 6:28 am

My boyfriend of 5 years is getting progressively worse with his clutter – 5 boxes of the same cereal, 10 sink strainers in the bathroom, 3 stools in living room, etc, etc, etc, His mother is in a nursing home and he keeps bringing stuff from her hoarder house to his clutter house – I can’t keep my mouth shut anymore and cringe at the thought of being there.

I can’t sleep there anymore – I bitch – he bitches back – no fun and probably not worth trying in the relationship anymore.

Any hope for me and him?


David June 1, 2011 at 1:33 am

I used to have a case of “denial clutter” until one day, my wife and I looked at the childrens stuffed animals and decided it was time to “cull the herd”. I couldn’t believe how many we got rid of! We did it with toys next, must have given away 4/5 of them and they still had plenty.

It wasn’t until we moved to another town that we aggressively attacked our own belongings. We applied the, “if you haven’t used it in a year, get rid of it” principle. How freeing! We haven’t suffered since, unless you count my wife wanting to keep every jar that comes through the front door. I just toss those when she isn’t looking.


Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: