Decluttering and the Stories We Tell Ourselves

Decluttering and the stories we tell ourselves is about the crazy things we do and the stuff we keep so others will “like us better.” Here’s the real reason why you save stuff you’ll never use.
And why do you waste precious time and money trying to impress people you only “kind of know?”
Do you volunteer to bring baked dishes to church or social events? Do you go out of your way, or spend money you don’t have for all the wrong reasons?
When you change the story you tell yourself about your reasons why, decluttering becomes a breeze.

Decluttering and the Stories We Tell

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Woman With Rolling Pin Whats The Story Behind Those Things

When you think of decluttering your house, are you agonizing over little odds and ends and trinkets that are inside your kitchen drawer? Wondering, should I keep them? I’ll probably never use them again, but what if I do? And so, you save them because you can’t get rid of them because they cost you good money?

Then if you do need them, you’ll have them on hand. Are you one of these people that agonizes over those things? Or do you agonize over the story behind those things?

The Reason I Ask About Your Stories

And I ask about your story for this reason. A couple years ago, I tossed away a set of cake decorating tips, and I did it on YouTube and a whole bunch of my decluttering friends came forward.

They’re like, why did you throw out the cake decorating tips? And they couldn’t figure it out. They said those were expensive, they were good, they were useful. Why did you get rid of them? Here’s why I got rid of them.

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Cake Decorating Tips

The Story I Told Myself About the Decorating Tips

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Woman Looks at Computer

The story I had told myself was a broken story. And I went like this. People will like me better if I make them a birthday cake and I decorate it and I show up and I deliver it.

So, one day I decided to make a birthday cake. It was for a golfer friend of mine. And I didn’t have any golfing experience. I didn’t know what a golfing cake looked like.

So, I spent about an hour online and I went through all different kinds of recipes and all different kinds of cake pans. I found this awesome golfing cake.

It had a little plastic golfing man that was standing up to a tee and he was ready to take a swing. And he had a little golf club in his hand and it justified the green cake. So, you got to buy the little golfing man to go with it, which I didn’t have.

I Spent a Lot of Time Making This Cake

Now I go down to Michael’s and they’ve got “the pan” for the golfing cake. So, they also had a little man that goes on top. So, $22 later, I leave Michael’s after about an hour of my time. Cause I kind of went up and down the aisles to see what else they have. Yeah. We do that too.

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Shopping With Credit Card

So now I get out of the store and I’m driving down the road. I’m going to go home and make my cake when all of a sudden, I realized I had no way to box the cake. But there’s a party store on the way.

I’ll go to the party store. When I get it aside, they don’t have the right size for the cake that I’m going to make. But they’re like, well, we got a shipment of stuff in, hang on, we’ll see if it’s in the back. So, it takes them about one hour. Finally, I get my doily.

I Ended Up Buying Too Much Cake Stuff

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Baking Pans

And of course, it’s not this one doily, but if you buy a pack of the doilies, then it costs less money. So now I bought a pack of the doilies and a couple of boxes in case I screw it up or I get frosting on it or whatever, you need a couple of extra boxes. So, by the time I get the doilies in the boxes, I’ve spent $11 at the party store.

Just to box up the cake once it’s done. So, I’ve got my $22 that I spent at Michaels. I’ve got $11 that I spent at the party store, and now I’m headed home and I got halfway home and I realized I don’t have the ingredients to make the cake.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves Influence Our Decisions

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Cake Mixes

Oh, wait a second. And this thought goes through my mind. I’m like, what if I bought a cake mix? And I just mixed up the cake and then I decorated it and I acted as if it was my own. And then I’m like, well, if people are going to like me more, it goes back to the story we tell ourselves, right.

It better be a fresh cake with fresh ingredients and real eggs and real butter and all that stuff. So, I go to the store and I buy all the real ingredients.

The Cake Cost Time and Money to Make

Now I’m at $40 just for the ingredients and the supplies to make a cake. I haven’t even made the cake yet. I’m five hours in and $40. Then I go into the house and I schlep all this stuff into the house. And then I start heating up the oven as I mix up the batter. Okay. It takes a few minutes to heat up the oven and then the cake bakes for 50 minutes.

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Baking Cake

I didn’t even factor in the cost of how long my electricity ran for 50 minutes and how much that would cost. But anyway, After the cake comes out of the oven. I have to wait a couple of hours for it to cool down before I can then frost it.

I’m now ready to go deliver it, but you can’t just deliver a cake. You’ve got to have a card. You have to write something on the card. You got to celebrate the birthday properly, right?

What Happened When I Delivered the Cake

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Happy Woman I Love Cake

And so, as I packed everything together, it took 11 hours of my time. From the time I started looking for the cake on the internet to the time I ran all of my errands, I was $40 in and I have this awesome cake. I get to the person’s house to deliver the cake. And of course, they’re like, oh, look at you. You made me this cake. And I got the kudos I was looking for.

I really did. And they’re like, come in and have a piece of cake with us. Let’s take pictures of the cake. So that’s another two hours where they were kind of my friend, but now I’m spending two hours.

I feel obligated because I brought them this cake and they feel obligated to spend the time with me.

The Stories We Tell Ourselves Aren't the Truth

So, the question is: the story I told myself was they were going to like me more if I brought them this cake. The truth is this if you’ll start telling yourself different stories, snd the different story I had to tell myself was if time and money is no object and I have a completely free day to myself, would I spend it pulling out my cake, decorating tips and making a cake for a person I kind of know.

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Thinking and Baking

And the answer is no, no, I would not do that. I have other things going on in my life right now. I might go to the writer’s cabin and I might write on my new book for a free day. That is what I would do, or I might design some graphics for my Facebook groups or something fun.

I would use my creative resources in a different way than making a cake. So, from now through infinity, I’m not going to be making any more cakes.

Make the Story You Tell Yourself Crystal Clear

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Eating Cake

And the story that I told myself once I was crystal clear about why, why did I want to make the cake? I became crystal clear on my reasons for why I always have to make the cakes? Am I volunteering at birthdays and family events going, oh, I’ll bring the dessert? I was, but why?

It’s not that they liked me any better if I made the cake. If I’m going to bring something, I can swing by the grocery store and pick up a cake.

You Don't Have to Make a Cake From Scratch

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Bakery Cakes and Desserts

I’ll share a secret with you. There’s a Publix, that’s just three blocks from where I live. It’s a super cool store and it’s got this awesome bakery that sells $30 cakes, right? They’re expensive cakes, but they are beautiful and they taste delicious. And so, I can swing by there on my way to somewhere else and I can buy the $30 cake. And it is such a cool bakery that they always have cakes in stock.

And so even if I’m unprepared, I can swing by and they have a cake waiting for me and they’ll box it up. And here you go. It’s awesome. And so, if I can do that, why don’t I outsource my cakes and the cake decorating from here through infinity?

What Stories are You Telling Yourself?

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Woman Points at Watch

The reason I bring this up is what stuff do you have inside your kitchen cupboards? Or your kitchen drawers that you’re holding onto those rolling pins and those Mason jars, because you’re going to start canning again? No, you’re not.

If you don’t have a whole free day to do it, you’re certainly not going to do it on a day when you’re super busy and you have like 20 minutes to cram it in the kitchen.

You Probably Won't Go Back to Those Hobbies Again

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Graphic Artist

If you don’t have a whole bunch of free time, which none of us have anymore, you’re not going to go back to these hobbies that you love. Go do something creative with your time. That is short, that you can do bite-size pieces because you will be interrupted. That’s the world we live in.

So, from now on through infinity, I will be buying my cakes at Publix or somewhere similar. That’s why I got rid of the cake decorating tips.

Think About Why You Have the Things You Have

The important thing about the story is this, as my life has continued, I had to go through every single avenue of my life and say, why do I have this? Is it still serving me? And then I have to tell myself a different story. I told myself this story for all these years, and what I realized was if I stopped volunteering, like at a family event and I stopped saying these words, oh, I’ll bring the dessert.

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Woman With Yarn and Knitting Needles

Nobody is Expecting You to Make a Cake

Decluttering and The Stories We Tell Celebration

Uh, nobody expects me to bring dessert. Then I didn’t volunteer. I didn’t put myself on the hook. Nobody expects it from me and they don’t like me any less. I just showed up to the party and they’re like, woo, here you are. Tell us what you’ve been up to.

And all of a sudden, I’m like, wait a second. Something weird just happened. I like myself better. Forget about those people if they like me, I like myself better. 

So, I’m asking you, what stories are you telling yourselves? And do you need a new story?




Support Group:

Recommended Reading:
Reclaim Your Life From Hoarding: Practical Strategies for Decluttering Your Home –
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things –
Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding –
Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Therapist Guide –
Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Workbook –

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