Decision Making Dilemmas – It Might Come in Useful

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If I had a pound or a dollar for every time a client or member had said to me ‘but it might come in useful, I might need it or use it again’ I’d be very rich.

And I’m not…. but people do say it to me ALL the time. It’s the ultimate justification for keeping everything in our clutter. I used it myself when my friends and family were trying to get me to get rid of my clutter.

You can’t argue with someone who tells you they want to keep something because it might come in useful, or they might need it because there’s an infinitesimally tiny chance that it might, but if we use that as a reason to keep everything then no one will ever clear their clutter.

The other classic sign that someone isn’t ready to let go yet is when they say – especially about clothes –they might come back in fashion, be worth a fortune, or they ‘could’ wear them to a fancy dress party.

OK. And if you do, you’ll be decades older, probably not the same size as you were when you had them the first time round, and to be blunt – you would probably look ridiculous wearing them. As for the fancy dress party argument – how often do you actually get invited to fancy dress parties? 

Besides, if they DID come back in fashion and if you DID want to wear them, you probably wouldn’t be able to find them amongst your clutter anyway. 

Just for the record, even if I still had my deep purple with  bright  pink  edging  ra-ra  skirt  from  the  ‘80’s  (hang  on, my   wedding  dress was  the exact  same colour  as that    beloved    ra-ra   skirt   that   I   spent   months persuading my mother to buy me), even if I had kept it, I still wouldn’t wear it again.

My husband keeps all our old mobile / cell phones with the justification of ‘it might come in useful’. According to him, if our mobile / cell phones go wrong, we can use one of the 20+ old handsets in his box in the attic room that is – thank goodness – his room that I don’t have to go into. He’s got all kinds of ‘might come in useful’ things stored up there. 

Yet when my mobile / cell phone died last month, a mobile / cell phone I loved that was a hand-me-down from him when he upgraded 3 years, did he go to his mobile / cell phone graveyard in the attic? Did he heck. Within half an hour he’d researched online and reserved me a new one at our local catalogue retail store which we could collect any time.

So now my recently deceased mobile phone is now living a peaceful life along with our old Blackberry’s, my husbands ‘favourite’ old Nokia 3310, multiple Samsungs and my personal favourite – what I called my ‘star trek’ phone – my Samsung flip phone. I loved snapping that thing shut at the end of a call or text.

This decision-making dilemma becomes even more difficult when you then realise within a week, month or year that what you let go of WOULD have come in useful when a situation arises when you could have used it.

Your Brain the Filing Cabinet

Here’s why you convince yourself that things you let go of would have come in useful and why you use is as a justification to keep everything in your clutter.

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Your brain stores new thoughts, feelings and memories in your memory filing cabinet. The most recent thoughts, feelings and memories get stored in date order with the most recent ones at the front. It sorts and organises most of these thoughts, feelings and memories while you sleep, which is why you can sometimes wake up in the night or in the morning and find you’ve figured something out that you struggled to figure out while you were awake. You brain did the sorting while you slept.

If you’ve been trying to make decisions based on ‘Keep’ and ‘Get Rid Of’ (rather than the 7 Action Focused Categories of the Clutter Clearing Process), you may have decided to be ruthless and get rid of something. So, you put that thing in the rubbish / trash / recycling or take it to the charity shop / goodwill and feel proud that you’ve ‘got rid’ of something from your clutter. 

By making that decision you’ve essentially moved the thought, feeling and memory of that thing in your clutter from way, way back in your filing cabinet to the front.

Fast forward a day, week or even a month or two and a situation arises where you’re trying to solve a problem or find a solution to something in the here and now.

Your brain starts trying to solve the problem and searches for a solution by going to its filing cabinet of thoughts, feelings and memories, starting at the front with the most recent and working its way backwards.

Guess what? Because you ‘got rid’ of that thing recently, the thoughts, feelings and memories associated with that thing are near the front of the filing cabinet, and because you believe that thing you got rid of is the ONLY thing that would have solved your problem in the here and now, you stop looking for another solution.  

But here’s the thing. If you hadn’t got rid of that thing, the thoughts, feelings and memories associated with it would have stayed in the deep, dark, depths of your filing cabinet of memories. When you then started trying to figure out a solution to the problem or situation you have in the here and now, you would have almost certainly come across ANOTHER thought, feeling and memory about something else that would have ALSO been a solution to the problem. 

Of course what’s more likely is that you would have become impatient, given up looking in your memory filing cabinet, and either got rid of it anyway, gone and bought a new one, bought something else, or actually found a BETTER solution to the problem than the thing you got rid of.

When you find yourself keeping things because it ‘might come in useful’, first make sure you’re using your Clutter Clearing 7 Action Focused Categories, then make sure you put the item in your not sure category if you think it might come in useful so your brain has time to process it, realise that you don’t need it and can let go safely when it’s ready.

If you need help to make decisions about the things in your clutter, get started with the Clutter Clearing Making Decisions Workshop. SAVE 75% With Coupon Code: LETSGETSTARTED

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