When decluttering, it is normal to have some difficulty parting with items, even if they're not used or loved. Here are a few barriers that I frequently encounter:
It was a gift. Often the difficulty here is a feeling of duty to keep a gift, as if letting go of a gift is rejecting the person who gave it. This is simply not the case - people and relationships are not contained in physical items. It could also be a fear that the gift-giver may notice you no longer have the item. In reality, people usually give gifts either to fulfill an obligation or to bring joy to the receiver. If the gift is not bringing you joy, then you are under no obligation to keep it. Furthermore, most of the time, family and friends don't remember what they bought you last year, let alone several years ago, so it is unlikely that they will notice it or ask about it.
What if I need it someday? This is a by-product of the scarcity mindset - the belief that there isn't enough. In reality though, we live in a time and place where excess is common and goods are easy to come by. As you are assessing each item that you 'might need', ask yourself how much it would cost to replace it should you actually need it sometime in the future. Chances are that it would cost less than $50 and you could pick it up at your local Target or Wal-Mart in just minutes. If you get rid of 100 things and end up having to replace two of them someday in the future, it would be worth it to gain the space in your home. Otherwise, you'll keep all 100 items 'just in case', sacrificing space in your home and never using most of them. Furthermore, when you decide you need something, you may not be able to find it among so many of your 'what if' items and end up buying another one anyway. Save yourself the headache and give yourself permission to get rid of more with the understanding that you can replace an item if you find in the future that you have a real need for it.
It was expensive. Do you own something that you never use or don't like but that cost a lot of money and you know you won't get a large percentage back when you sell it? Often these items sit in the basement, take up space, and remind you every time you see them that they were mistakes - wastes of money. But selling it or donating it feel like taking a huge loss. To overcome this, you need to consider each square foot of your home to be worth what you paid/are paying for it. The space that each item takes up is how much you are paying to store it and each item should earn the space it takes in your home. Even more important to remember is that the item is not going to turn back into money sitting unused in your home. You already paid for it, so the money is gone whether you keep the item or not. You can sell it and take what you can get or you can continue to hold onto the item, letting it take up space in your home and your mind and regretting the money you spent on it each time you see it.
It's worth money/it's an antique. Of course you shouldn't get rid of all antiques or valuables - if you enjoy looking at the item and it fits in your home, then it adds value - keep it! But if you do not like it, do not have room for it, or it's packed away in storage indefinitely, the fact that it is worth money is not a good reason to keep it. There are places you can sell items of value like eBay, consignment shops, antique stores, auctions, etc. This way, you will have the money and the space back.
Good intentions. "I'll need this when I do project xyz". Upon first glance, this item seems to pass the test - it has a specific purpose and it WILL be used. But will it? How long have you been planning that project? How many other projects are on your list but don't ever seem to get done? If items are being stored for a project that you have not gotten around to, be honest with yourself about the likelihood that you'll ever get around to it. If you still can't part with the items, box them up and label them with a date 6 months or a year in the future. If you don't get around to the project by then, you probably never will and you can get rid of the supplies guilt-free.
The new year is just around the corner, and it is a great time to declutter and get organized. Hopefully the list above helps you tackle any mental blocks you encounter along the way. If you have others you would like to get my take on, please feel free to leave me a note in the comment section below.