Why We Own Stuff: The Psychology of Letting Go by @TheJoyfulOrg


Most people would admit that they simply own too much stuff. We are all guilty of excess in one area or another of our lives. Understanding WHY we own is the key to letting go of all this extra clutter. Why do we own the things we fill our homes, offices and cars with?

For starters, our stuff allows us to do things. This is true for all the items we need in our lives to do things, like cook, learn, groom and care for our children.  These things also help us control our environment. For example, we WANT things, like air conditioners because they allow us to control the air temperature.

We all deem different things as requirements and needs. We also all have different guidelines for what is useful. A hoarder may think they have use for 100 empty butter containers. Think about what you bring when you travel. Do you feel free by the lack of stuff? Think about what you really NEED and use this as a guideline when purging the clutter.


Another reason we are driven to have and acquire things is to feel a sense of belonging. We make ourselves feel secure and comfortable by acquiring things. Power and status can be derived from things. We see this in the media on television and in magazines. We want to be as pretty as the women on TV so we buy the shampoo they are advertising. We want to feel successful so we buy the luxury car that is marketed to men in GQ Magazine.

We tie our identity to our things. We also keep items of sentimental value. We tie our happiness or sadness to these items and store them away.  Often we rarely look at them, we simply WANT to keep them for the emotions they evoke. For some people, this goes back to issues in childhood and sometimes, it is just how people are “wired”.  Sometimes, a stockpile of things provides a sense of security.  In extreme cases, people do this to avoid leaving their homes.

While you don’t need to overanalyze your things, it is good to stop and think for a moment about why you purchase, store and use things. Challenge yourself to let go of what you no longer need.


About Author

Bonnie Joy Dewkett, CPO® is a nationally recognized organizing expert, author, motivational speaker, and internet radio personality. She began organizing as a child, and she has been organizing ever since. Her company, The Joyful Organizer®, creates and implements organizational systems for the home and office. These changes allow her Customers to create calm from chaos at work and at home. Bonnie is passionate about helping her clients meet their organizational goals, and loves to see the positive impact that getting organized has on their lives.

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