Letting go of stuff can be difficult, especially when it’s your personal possessions. Unless they’re broken, it can be quite tough to toss items that you’ve held onto for years. Turns out there’s a very good reason for this and realising the cause may just help you face your decluttering fears once and for all.
One question to ask yourself when dealing with clutter is: Is my emotional attachment clouding my judgement? The endowment effect describes how much emotional value we put on something just because we own it, even if we have no use for it anymore.
According to Psychology Today, a 1991 experiment is a prime example of this effect. In the experiment, three groups of students were asked to sell, buy or predict a fair price for coffee mugs. The students who owned the mugs and were asked to part with them valued them higher than those who were buying or predicting the price. The theory behind this is that we invest in objects emotionally, which affects our judgement. We become biased about whether we actually need something and what it’s actually worth to us, causing us to hold onto things we don’t need and that are taking up space.
To combat this, psychologists recommend playing a three-step game that tricks the brain into revealing how much it actually needs.
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First of all, take a look around and decide how much you’d sell each item for. Once you’ve written it all down, ask yourself how much you’d actually pay for the same object. If you find yourself willing to sell an object for a higher price than you’d personally pay for it, then you’re adding extra emotional value to it. This means you don’t really need it lying around.
Try this technique the next time you do a big clear out. You may be surprised at how much you’re willing to get rid of.
Compiled by Food and Decor Editor, Claire Badenhorst
As the food and decor editor of Woman&Home, Claire enjoys nothing more than eating great food in beautiful locations. In a perfect world, she would travel for a living and have a Lord of the Rings marathon every weekend.