Brighton-based blogger Louise Parker of lvinlovewith.com worked with psychologist Dr Elizabeth Forrester to help her take a less emotional view of her possessions. Having recently moved home Louise had already cleared out a lot of unwanted items, but realised she was still clinging onto a lot of clothing, toiletries and other beauty items she didn't need.
Louise: 'I was a little nervous about de-cluttering with Liz if I'm honest. I like to think I'm quite a streamlined person, so really thought there wouldn't be anything that I would deem as clutter. However, my wardrobe and drawers that were bursting at the seams and telling a different story, so something really needed to be done!
'Liz's approach was very simple: after putting all my clothes from my wardrobes and drawers (and secret suitcases filled with further clothes) on the bed, it was as easy as picking up each item one by one and really assessing whether I wanted it or needed it. Asking myself whether I actually wore it, or if it was the similar to lots of my other clothes was a particularly handy approach. I found that I hadn't really thought about many of the items of clothes for quite a while, just because I rarely saw them in my packed wardrobe!
'My drawers full of bottles, make-up and skincare were an area that really needed addressing - it was amazing the great feeling I got when I found something in among the clutter that I forgot I had. It was also really great to rid myself of the little sample sachets and bottles from magazines and make-up counters. Looking at the piles of stuff I was happy to get rid of was quite a shock - nd that image will really stay with me when I next go to Boots!
'Another thing Liz taught me was to contemplate the amount of things I bring into the house every day - and whether I clear the same amount out. So now when I do choose to buy something new, I'll be thinking about what I can get rid of to balance it out.'
Dr Elizabeth Forrester: 'Louise made some interesting comments about some of the items she’d struggled to discard. This applied to quite a few cosmetic items which had lain unused and unloved in the drawer. Attempts to avoid unpleasant, negative feelings is a key reason for not tackling clutter. When Louise came face-to-face with these items, it reminded her of money she had spent on them, so getting rid of them felt wasteful, and led to further feelings of guilt.
'A self-confessed lover of shopping, I asked her about the feelings she experienced when she bought the items. When we shop, we see items that we desire and it often seems as if we will never get over that intense feeling of longing we experience. In fact, that feeling has too often fizzled out before we’ve even set foot through the door and the item loses its magic. In a similar way, we may fear that the negative thoughts and emotions we get when contemplating getting rid of some unworn or unused purchases won’t go away either.
'By clearing out a significant amount of clutter (like half-used tubes and bottles), and taking a new approach to discarding her unwanted purchases - such as passing them on to friends and colleagues for a donation to a favourite charity - Louise had a very different experience. She found that rather than being left with uncomfortable feelings,she got the same familiar buzz she would get when acquiring something new.
'What’s more, delighting friends with a nearly-new bargain (and being able to give some cash to a good cause) will give her additional ‘feel good’ experiences. And by having a good clear-out, it is possible to fall in love all over again with some things that have been languishing in the back of our cupboards.'