Can you ‘do an Oprah’ and let go of claustrophobic clutter?

davanti clutter“Knowing what you need is more than knowing what you want,” says Oprah Winfrey in an article about clearing her clutter. Big words, big aim – but not making anyone immune to the anxiety that goes with clearing out the clutter of our lives that can keep us stuck.

Even Oprah admits to feeling some anxiety – and wanting to buy back some of her stuff – when dealing with the emotional impact of saying goodbye to some of her most prized possessions. Ultimately, her instincts were that “instead of feeling walled in by stuff, [she] want[ed] to feel surrounded by calm”.

Having a vision for a cleared space is admirable. Many of us want to feel less ‘walled in’ by our clutter, but there can be so much invested in the objects we hold dear – especially if those objects belonged to someone who is no longer in our lives.

Oprah’s point is that our stuff doesn’t have to own us, but it can be so hard to let go. Who’s to say when it’s time to let go of a particular object?

Experience of letting go shows that you more you’re able to release to the world, the more the world is able to release to you. Hold onto the objects that you’ve paid a fortune for, but you have no further need of, and work out what you will get in return. Release objects to people who really need them, instead of hoarding them yourself, surely has to be the opportunity we’ve been given: to bestow on others the gifts that we have been given ourselves.

In Oprah’s words – assuming we’re not wanting for our basic needs – then “less actually is so much more”.

Is your clutter keeping you stuck in the past?

anima clutter

People hold onto old clothes and teddies for their sentimental value. (pic:

Are you hanging on to your past? Are old memories stopping you living fully in the present? Take a look around your home and see how many items you’ve got stuffed into wardrobes and drawers that you don’t use and may not even like, but you cling on to them because they have sentimental value.

It’s a common problem: nearly half (45%) of the people surveyed by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) say they hold on to stuff that isn’t useful but they feel too nostalgic about it to throw it away. Two-thirds hang onto old photo frames and photos, 46% keep clothes that don’t fit them any more, 40% are still attached to CDs from their youth, and 30% won’t part with their favourite teddy. There’s even 12% who are reluctant to let go of their lava lamp!

A clearout can do wonders for your mood, however. The BHF – which is encouraging the public to empty their wardrobes and donate items to its stores – says 32% of the people in its survey felt liberated after chucking out their clutter. 

It’s often the case that your outer world reflects your inner one. So if you’re overwhelmed by clutter, it could be that certain feelings are keeping you stuck in the past.

Two final stats from the BHF survey that are of interest: 33% hold onto things that remind them of happier times. But 25% are happy to dump their clutter after a relationship break-up, showing they’re ready to move on.