Why It’s So Hard to Get Rid of Your Clothes
There are tons of articles on how to de-clutter your closet, so let me stop you right here: this isn’t about how; it’s about why it’s so difficult. Ok, and a few tips thrown in as well.
Since I hate to clothes shop, you’d think it would be pretty easy to keep my closet and dressers clutter-free, since I wouldn’t have much stuff. Think again, my friends.
My mission, when I do shop for clothes, is to find the most comfortable pieces imaginable. And when I do, I buy oh…two or three of the same thing, saving me from having to hunt again for clothes I can wear without feeling like there are shards of glass scraping my skin off. Yes, I am picky about what touches my sensitive skin. And I’ve written a lot about my hypersensitivities (and yours); it’s a common thing for us who have ADHD.
However, I do love shopping for shoes and purses, partly because I can do it online and at the store and not have to take my clothes off. You don’t have to bend, crunch, gasp, and get frustrated in tiny dressing rooms and scowl at that muffin top that seems to laugh back at you. I swear they look like they are smiling…
So, when I get a craving to buy something new, it’s generally running shoes or purses. And plain black t-shirts or jeans. Since my clothes pallet is pretty simple, I have to keep washing these few things until they are nearly thread-bare, at which point there comes a time when it’s time to get rid of them.
And I have a hard time doing that. You too?
A favorite pair of jeans that’s been in my life for 5 years becomes part of me. Same with those shoes that I’ll wear all summer. And five summers after that.
Purses, too. To me, my purses and shoes are a part of my identity- like another limb. A piece of Terry. I simply over-identify with my clothes until they become part of me. And that’s not always good.
Add to that, the ADHD part: making decisions and prioritizing. Do I keep that purse or that one? What if I need it next time I’m invited to a wedding and need an electric orange clutch?
Procrastinating: Naw…I’ll do it next week. It’s too overwhelming to even think about this, especially while I’m watching re-runs of I Love Lucy.
Distractibility: I know if I start this, I will have clothes all over the floor for weeks.
I realized things were getting out of hand when I spotted a very old pair of slippers in my closet that I simply could not throw away three years ago after I had already replaced them with new ones. Same style, different color, of course. I like predictable. I know how they’ll look and feel, so no need to over-explore and end up having to return things.
I’m not a hoarder, but I find it fascinating that letting go of certain things is very very hard to do. And the result of that behavior is collecting clutter. And more clutter.
I finally got the courage, recently, to go through my stack of white t-shirts (I have to wear them under most tops so I don’t freak out from fabric hypersensitivities) and tossed a bunch out. It felt great but sad. “Bye-bye, Terry”, I thought to myself. Then on to the black Ts.
I then forced myself to go through my jeans and realized that I had about 15 pairs but only wore four consistently. Boy, this was hard. I tried them all on and, holding my breath, donated the ones that I didn’t love, that didn’t fit, or were out of style.
I did the same with the many shorts I seem to collect. With summer coming, it had to be done.
You’ve read a lot about de-cluttering, letting go of things that don’t spark love or interest, or whatever that book is titled. For me, it goes beyond that. It’s hard to let go, even if things don’t spark…whatever in me.
Let me share some things I’ve learned along the way.
7 Tips on How to Let Go of Your Clothes
- Do you look like you were dragged out of a lagoon because your blouse/slacks/fill in the blank is raggedy, full of pills, or has a stubborn stain you can’t get out? I give you permission to toss it. Blame it on me if you feel upset and stressed.
- When you look in your closet, does it remind you of your great aunt’s wardrobe? Immediately remove and donate or toss. Maybe your great aunt would appreciate that 1955 ivory sweater you found at the resale shop but never wore.
- Those shoes that pinch your toes until they turn purple? You wore them once but can’t toss them because they cost $150 on sale and you have to hang on to them because you see green dollar signs printed all over them. Ok, how about selling those on eBay? You’ll end up saving a ton in podiatry bills.
- If you’re like me and grew up in the 60s, or – ok- you grew up in the 80s or whatever, you have a sense of how you looked back then. For me, being cool was wearing hip-hugger lemon yellow skintight pants with bell bottoms so long and wide, you could vacuum your entire house by just walking through it.
Many of my friends from back then still have those (now) vintage clothes. Do me a favor. See if they still fit you. Trust me, for 99.9% of you, they won’t. And if they do, don’t hang on. Just don’t. Donate! Your kids (or grandkids) might love them. Note: they’d make great Halloween costumes.
- Here’s a tip that works really well for me. When I see a jampacked closet and get totally stuck emotionally because of the what-ifs:
What if I need that bright purple and green mosaic design polyester blouse that is so tight, I need oxygen – STAT – because it would go with those green slacks that are gathering dust on the top shelf that I can’t reach without a ladder…
This is what I tell myself:
Someday, my (now adult) children will have to go through all of this crap and throw everything- and I mean everything away. Do I really want them to spend 5 weekends of their lives cleaning up my mess?
Now that you’re suddenly running to your closest, stop. I’m not done, yet.
- By holding on to your old rags, you are holding on to your past. The past is gone. It’s over. But I understand; I’ve been in your shoes (more on that, below). Really- are you really wearing those shoes? Do you like how they take up space in your closet? Do you like how you stress over what to do with them? You can do this- really. Go right now and pick out two pairs of shoes you don’t wear and toss them!
- Another tip that works for me. If I find it super hard to let go of something, I tell myself: I can always search on eBay for it (especially if it’s dated and someone smarter than me figured out how to earn money by clearing out space). I also tell myself that if I absolutely have to, I can buy something similar online. Note: please don’t do this; I’m trying to help you remove stuff, not add stuff.
Still, big shot that I am, I have a long way to go. When you collect four of everything like I do- things that fit and feel right- it can get out of hand. So this weekend, I’m going to tackle my shoe collection. <lump in throat>
What about you? Can you get rid of one pair of shoes? Or one pair of slacks? Are you up for the challenge? Whatever you choose, post your progress in the comment selection below, then we’ll give each other a high five. You can do it!
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Terry’s Top Picks
Got the fidgets? Need a sensory calm-down? I couldn’t help but smile when I saw this on Etsy. This adorable little stuffed bear fits in your pocket for those times when you’re needing something to help you feel better. Great for kids, too.
Get yours today (it’s currently on sale).
THIS is a classic and I’ve recommended it many times to my clients and followers. She truly gets how the ADHD brain works.
The first section explains her organizational methods; the second targets specific areas, rooms, or events that are common to almost everyone and typically present a challenge to organize and keep organized.
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I get it. Because I have ADHD, too, and over 25 years of experience working with adults with ADHD.
(I have a limited number of slots available; if you don’t see a time that works for you, email me at terry@ADDconsults.com).
The Queens of Distraction
Struggling to tackle paper piles, toy piles, projects and more?
Then join me and your fellow Queens of Distraction online in a private, secret room where we Get Things Done. We “get” it and are here to help you.
Where to find Terry Matlen:
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