Why is it hard to get rid of clutter? Marie Kondo has the answer

Click to play video: 'Marie Kondo inspiring people to tidy up'
Marie Kondo inspiring people to tidy up
WATCH ABOVE: Marie Kondo, a Japanese organization consultant, is the latest internet and TV sensation sparking a trend in "tidying up." Melanie Zettler meets up with a trained professional organizer to find out what's drawing people in to the tidy trend – Jan 21, 2019

Marie Kondo knows how to clean.

You’ve probably seen her on social media, in your suggested Netflix line-up, or maybe you’re already a KonMari Method follower.

Kondo’s now-popular cleaning philosophy isn’t just about tiding up or folding clothes a certain way. The Japanese author and minimalist’s new show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix is forcing people to get rid of their stuff, CNN reported.

The KonMari Method, as she has coined it, focuses on assessing things we own and asking ourselves if we really need these items. She also encourages keeping items that bring us joy or donating them for others to feel the same sentiment.

But this is easier said than done. Often, many of us have an attachment to our material goods, making it harder for us to let it go.

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READ MORE: What Canadians can learn from Japan’s minimalist lifestyle movement

Effy Nicopoulos, a professional organizer and certified KonMari consultant in Toronto, told Global News our relationship with our clothes is associated with a feeling.

“Pieces of clothing are attached to certain events,” she explained. “A happy event, a sad event — as a organizer, I try to separate the two.”

Some of us may not be able to let go of a wedding dress because of the sentimental value it holds. This can also be similar for certain suits that you consider “lucky,” or jerseys you’ve worn to your favourite games or even a T-shirt you wore on a first date.

“If you have a picture of that or a memory of that, you don’t need the actual item and if it is still in good use, part of bringing joy to someone else is passing it along.”

Emotional attachments to what we own

Some experts have said people have emotional attachments to their personal items because it gives a sense of identity, and like a uniform, our “possession of specific objects and brands can also signal our membership of social groups, both to others and to ourselves,” writer Dr. Christian Jarrett noted.

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Kondo added we hold onto things for emotional reasons because we fear the future or we want to preserve the past, Alexandra Churchill of Martha Stewart Living reported.

READ MORE: How to get organized using the Marie Kondo method

“In my own KonMari tidying, I found that I’m guilty of the latter. In the depths of my desk drawers, I unearthed things I had long forgotten. Once brought to the light of day, they unleashed a flood of bittersweet memories,” she wrote.

This attachment can even start in childhood. One study from 2007 found up to 70 per cent of children developed “strong attachments” to things like toys and blankets, the Guardian reported, believing their possessions had a “life force.”

While we may not feel like our possessions are necessarily “alive,” Kondo’s cleaning philosophy centres around the idea that everything we own has a purpose and if you find yourself holding onto something you don’t have a connection with, it’s time to move on.

Kondo said if an item doesn’t bring you joy, you thank it (as if it were a real person) and discard it.

How to get rid of clutter

There are three ways to get through clutter and actually get rid it, Nicopoulos said. Start by envisioning your ideal lifestyle: which items in your home actually bring you joy?

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The second step involves focusing on what you are going to keep and what you are going to let go. When we talk about getting rid of stuff or letting it go, Nicopoulos said it doesn’t mean throwing it out.

READ MORE: Innovative ways to tackle your spring cleaning chores

Donating items or finding ways to re-purpose them also can give items a new form of joy or bring joy to someone else, she explained. Kondo recommends de-cluttering by category, versus focusing on just rooms in the home.

Her method starts with clothing to books to paper to miscellaneous items to sentimental items, one of the hardest things to let go of.

“When you go from clothing to sentimental, you are going to the hardest category and building momentum,” she said.

Nicopoulos said if you still find yourself unable to let go of certain items, it also comes down to speaking with a professional. Often, with items in our own homes, we don’t challenge ourselves to sort them and this is when they pile up.

“All it takes is to have someone who is trained in the process ask you questions and sit with you to help figure it out … without judgment.”

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