When you walk through your home and office, are you often reminded of the stuff that you no longer use and enjoy?

Whether it’s a growing pile of papers on your desk, a mountain of unused electronics in your garage or an entire room devoted to castoffs, how is your decision to hold onto your unused possessions affecting the way you feel about yourself?

Many times as emotional eaters, we turn to food to avoid feeling our uncomfortable feelings. The consequence of that is that we shut ourselves off from reality and fall into a trance believing that our lives would be perfect if only …we were thinner.

But that’s not true. It’s a lie. You may know this deep down in your heart, because during the times when you have been thinner, it didn’t necessary mean that you were happier. Maybe like me, you might have noticed that you just switched obsessions. In my case, I went from overeating to overspending.

In order to be happier, and more at peace, we need to get honest with ourselves. We need to become aware of the patterns in our lives that are hurting us and making us feel ashamed of ourselves. No amount of punishment in the present is going to make us feel any better about the shame we feel about our past.

Overspending is one of those ways that we numb our feelings. If you’ve fallen into that trap, that doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person or stupid, it just means that was the best way that you knew how to handle your situation at the time.

How decluttering  gave me back my self-respect

Two years ago when my family and I sold our home to protect us from foreclosure, I came face to face with my biggest addiction; spending. Over the years my way of handling stress was to go out and buy stuff. The more I had, the more I wanted until my spending ways pushed my family into the abyss of debt.

When the movers came to do an estimate of our possessions, I was shocked to find out that we had 29,000 pounds of stuff and the cost to move it all just about 5 miles up the road was going to be $8000.

My head spun with shame. I always knew that I liked shopping, but because all our stuff was so neatly packed away out of sight, I didn’t realize I had a problem. I just knew that I shopped like a fiend to give myself a sense of instant gratification, to fill the hole that I felt existed in my heart.

When we moved into the Skokie house (below) that we would be renting for the next 2 years, I realized I encouraged the family to choose it because I felt that we needed all that space. That was insane. My daughter, Cara was moving to a dorm and our son was also planning to leave. But now looking back in retrospect, I’m ashamed to admit that I convinced the family we needed a bigger place.

Just around March of 2014, about a year before we moved to the house where we are now, I began to clear out all the old junk that had somehow just gotten re-boxed and transferred from one house to another. Before we sold our home, I learned about this amazing service called Vietnam Veterans of America. In preparation for our first move, I began the process of paring down. But it wasn’t until a year later when we were preparing to leave Skokie that I got really serious about clearing out all the excess stuff that was overburdening my home and my life.

From my old wedding dress, to oh so many boxes of books, bags, pocket books, shoes, clothes and household items. I was going to start over, guilt and shame-free.

My decision to re-evaulate what I wanted and needed in my home and space, gave me back my self-respect. My binges became fewer because I wasn’t always getting triggered by the feelings of overwhelm that used to engulf me whenever I was faced with seeing so much stuff.

I began treating myself with more love and compassion. With each item that I cleared, there seemed to be a story. It confounded me as to why I was holding onto things that hurt me so much I cried when I looked at them. But I had been doing that. As I began to release the pain of so many hurtful memories in the form of computers, clothing, and furniture, paintings and electronics, and even 10 boxes of old files, I began to feel lighter, more at peace with the person I was becoming.

As I shared in my blog post, entitled, “Change Your Story, Change Your Life,” my life has radically changed since the winter of 2013. That’s when I got the scare of my life seeing evidence of being an unconscious spender. I also realized that I was responsible for putting my marriage in jeopardy because I was convincing myself that my husband didn’t love me because I was no longer lovable.

I’m so grateful that I’ve come such a long way since then. For the past several years I’ve been working on repaying back the debt, lightening my load and clearing the clutter. Besides shopping for food, I rarely feel the need to buy anything else. I have a policy that everything that feels bad, or brings up negative memories has to go. As a result, of lightening my burden in so many ways, my life has never been happier!

Do you have any stuff in your life that’s holding you back from lovin’ the skin you’re in?.I am here for you. I recommend joining my FB group, 30 Days to Lovin’ the Skin You’re In. There you will get a chance to learn how to manage your stress so you can get some much needed perspective. Check it out:

30 Days to Lovin’ the Skin You’re In FB Group