Decluttering who you thought you'd be
Sometimes we hang onto things because it's too difficult to give up on the dream we had attached to them: the jeans we wanted to fit into one day, the activewear set for when we start going to the gym, the tableware for when we start hosting dinner parties... They hold a different kind of sentimental value. Our reluctance to get rid of them stems from our fear of failure or giving up. But the jeans don't fit, you don't have an opportunity to wear the activewear and you don't have time to even consider planning a dinner party.
Items with this kind of emotional hold on us are particularly straining. They sit there, not being used, reminding us that we're not the person we always wanted to be. They judge us coldly as we pass them each busy day and make us feel inadequate when compared to the person we thought we'd be when we made these purchases.
I got rid of everything that made me feel like this. Anything with any emotional weight tied to it that shone a light on the contrast between what I thought my life would look like and what it actually is. And I learned to be so much more grateful for the things I have and truly appreciate the beautiful life that I lead; the real one that is happening in real life, not the rose-tinted, unrealistic one that I made in my head. Focussing on what you lack encourages feelings of inadequacy.
So what if you change your mind? Well, you can always buy them again. It's important to let the noticeable lack of an item inform its purchase. If you find yourself starting to get interested in fitness and you do a few home routines in your pyjamas and think, "I'd love to up my game", then that would be a good time to buy some new clothes. Assuming that a passion for working out follows on naturally from buying the new clothes is the problem.
I used to own a full pile of fitness gear that I never wore; now I attend the gym four times a week while my fitness wardrobe consists of only two pairs of leggings and three tops.
If I ever need to host a massive dinner party then I will buy some more plates (or do a Bring Your Own Plate) but I suspect I will never have to host a massive dinner party because I'd prefer not to, in all honestly. The idea of me laughing with a group of my most sophisticated friends, wine glass in hand, is very appealing but the reality is cooking for hours, worrying whether people are enjoying themselves, spending loads of money on food, cleaning afterwards... The reality, for me at least, falls massively short of the optimistic ideal.
Getting rid of these items allows us to come face to face with the reality. And - top tip - if you truly don't want to get rid of them then make yourself a rule: "If I don't use these items in the next month, then I'll get rid of them". Then start going to the gym and start planning that dinner party! I have quite a few things that minimalism spurred me to start using purely because I didn't want to part with them. And they are now enriching my life instead of taking from it.