Join 6.5K+ Subscribers

Don’t Let Identity Become a Barrier to Decluttering

Mar 03, 2024

Read time: 5.5 minutes

When you start decluttering, do you fear losing a piece of who you are?

For many people, the answer is YES!

They spend months (if not years) fighting this battle and searching for a solution to their clutter and the immediate fear of losing themselves.

Some manage to hurdle this obstacle without hesitation, while others struggle and eventually settle for clutter shifting.

You might be thinking: “The latter sounds exactly like me, Ron.” And if so, bingo! That’s the response I was looking for because this week’s issue of the Clarity Club is for you.

In the early years of my journey, I felt the same feelings you’re experiencing. When I would start decluttering, I felt like I was losing a piece of who I was.

My identity was closely tied to my possessions, creating a barrier to decluttering.

Today, I want to offer you a different perspective to consider so you can overcome this obstacle and progress on your journey.

Let’s dive in.

The Problem

Tell me if this sounds like you:

“I want to be more minimal. I want to hone in on what I want and use and get rid of the rest. I want to make space for hobbies and family time. I want to put my values first. But the thing that’s holding me back is a fear of losing my identity. I like looking around and seeing “me” in my home. Everything feels like a reflection of myself. I fear that I will feel lonely or empty if I walk into a home filled with less. I don’t want to feel like I’m living in a stranger’s house.”

Does any of this reflect how you feel or conversations you’ve had internally?

(Feel free to hit reply and let me know if this hit home for you.)

Many people face a huge problem when it’s time to start decluttering: their identity and possessions are in an unhealthy relationship. This fact is often ignored in favor of comfort, familiarity, and routine.

We’d rather not disrupt what we’ve grown accustomed to. “It’s what I know,” we say.

However, an unhealthy relationship (regardless of who’s involved) is an unhealthy relationship, and for things to be different — better and healthier, disruption is more than necessary.

Don’t worry, I’ll walk with you.

Causing Disruption

If it were easy, everyone would do it. We’d all be able to declutter without hesitation. However, disrupting one’s comfort, familiarity, and routine can ensue a world of discomfort, anxiety, fear, worry, and deep thought about how to move forward.

Here’s a perspective to consider that may change how you respond to the disruption I’m encouraging you to engage in.

But first, let’s take a moment to resolve the “identity” crisis.

Download my core values worksheet and get crystal clear on your values.

The person who understands what they value understands who they are (and, more importantly, who they are not).

A firm understanding of your values leads to a confident identity that is not easily influenced or changed.

I digress. Now, let’s cause some disruption.

Disrupting Comfort

  • Current state: You may feel comforted and whole by your clutter. This may have also led to you believing that your home, in its current form, is a reflection of you, and you don’t want to lose that.

  • Future state to consider: If you pare down your possessions by removing everything unnecessary and selecting a limited number of your favorite items to display, you may find that your space becomes a better reflection of you than it is in its current state — cluttered.

    The unique pieces that truly reflect who you are will be more prominent when they have space between them. When there are too many items in one room, your eye doesn’t know where to land, and it’s harder to focus on the things in the space. A room designed around a few focal points is easier to “read” to get an idea of the resident’s (your) identity.

    (For example, we have a black Klipsch speaker on display in our living area. This speaker is meaningful to my wife and I as it is the speaker we had on display at our wedding. It also indicates that we enjoy listening to chill, jazzy music in the evenings.)

    Consider the following to help you pare down your items:

    • Follow a decision formula
    • Consider the vision you have for your life beyond decluttering
    • Lean into the pieces you consider beautiful or meaningful
    • Ignore other people’s opinions
    • Review this checklist periodically to support your values and create an environment that supports what you value.

Disrupting Familiarity

  • Current state: Your self-talk is likely a life source feeding your growing clutter. Allow me to explain. There are two ways to look at this:

    The first is your Fantasy Self — an idea you have of yourself but never get to do it. For example, a hobby that you have all the supplies for but you never do it. An instrument you never play, cookware you never use, clothes you don’t wear, etc. All in the name of “one day…”

    The second way we can look at this is from the perspective of how you grew up — maybe you didn’t have a ton of stuff, and now, in this current season of your life, you’re accumulating more to make up for what you didn’t have in the past. This behavior can be as straightforward as a bad habit, or it can be much more severe. (I’ll leave that for you to decide)

  • Future state to consider: The source of your self-talk will determine the solution you should lean into to disrupt your familiarity with your clutter. Regardless of your choice, the goal is to change how you talk to yourself. Give these a try:

    • Write about it: Consider keeping a log of self-reflections. Write about where you are in this season of your life, your values, and how closely they align with your everyday reality. Use the patterns you uncover to jumpstart a behavior change.
    • Shift from a scarcity to an abundance mindset: Start by strengthening your trust in cultivating an abundance mindset. You can do this by recognizing abundance in past life experiences. Developing an abundance mindset requires faith that there is always enough, which may be hard to believe if you come from a scarcity mindset. So, the best proof is always personal experience.
    • Talk to a professional: If you need help navigating your self-talk (especially if the source runs deep), please seek help from a professional that you can talk to.

 Disrupting Routine

  • Current state: Are you feeling overwhelmed by your daily to-do list? Do you find yourself constantly organizing, cleaning, and doing laundry? It can be frustrating when your to-do list seems never-ending and takes up all your free time.

  • Future state to consider: Imagine how different things would be if you could clean your house faster, do laundry in fewer loads and save money on expenses. You would have more time to prioritize your values, put your family first, and pursue a more meaningful career (if that’s your goal). So, to achieve this, consider the habits you must break and the clutter you must part ways with to develop a quicker and uncluttered routine for yourself.

Your next steps

Don’t let identity become a barrier to decluttering.

  • Identify what you value
  • Disrupt your comfort and familiarity
  • Change your self-talk
  • Develop a new routine that requires less of what doesn’t matter and more of what does.

Follow this process, and you’ll break through the identity barrier that’s held you back from decluttering and prioritizing what/who matters. Your family, yourself, and your circle of friends will thank you.

That’s all for today.

I’ll see you next week.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

 The Decluttering Starter Kit: Skip the overwhelm and jumpstart your decluttering journey. This comprehensive course will teach and guide you through my multi-step action plan for decluttering with less overwhelm and more progress each week. Get access here.


Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help:

1. The Declutter Kit: The most straightforward way to approach decluttering. I share 8+ years of expertise, proven methods, and actionable strategies. This course will help you save time, conquer your clutter, and prioritize your values.

2. Get my Core Values Worksheet: Step-by-step guide to help you identify your values (free).

Want to talk about collaborating? Have a question or feedback?

Get in touch

Join 6,500+ Clarity Seekers

Subscribe to the Clarity Club newsletter for real-life experiments, practical guidance, and evidence-backed advice every week.


I will never sell your information, for any reason.