When “Good Enough” Isn’t


I’ve had a cotton swab container in my bathroom for years. It’s actually a sugar bowl that I bought to use as a Q-Tip holder. It’s been quite effective, what with a matching lid to keep the swabs out of sight. But it’s that lid that finally did me in.

For a while now, the clanging noise the cover makes against the bowl has been driving me bonkers. It’s super rattly and, as someone who is easily affected by energy and loud noises, it made me rattly. I finally decided it was time for it to go.

There it is in the donation box on its way to the thrift shop. —->

Some might question why I would get rid of something that still has life in it; that still functions; that isn’t broken. Isn’t that wasteful? Nope, it sure isn’t. Not when it costs me more energetically than it’s worth.

I recently spoke to a caller on my radio show, Transformational Clutter Clearing, who struggles with this exact thing — giving herself permission to let go of something she no longer loves even though it still works “well enough.”

She prides herself on living minimally, supporting the second-hand economy, and being intentional about letting things go. And while that’s admirable, it’s a slippery slope when you do it at the expense of yourself.

She talked about a window fan that was slightly broken, but still worked if positioned just right. It bothered her every time she saw it and used it, but she felt guilty replacing it since it still served its intended purpose. She didn’t want to add to the landfill just because it annoyed her.

I reminded her that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure so instead of throwing it away, she could list it on Freecycle or in a local Facebook group to see if someone wanted it to tinker with. And I encouraged her to get herself a fully functioning fan since she had the budget for it.

Because she’s worth it.

Because she deserves to have things that function properly whenever possible.

And that’s when we got to the real clutter — her belief of being undeserving and ungrateful.

As we wrapped up our call, I left her with four assignments:

  1. List the broken fan for free
  2. Get a new fan
  3. Spend at least on Pom round journaling about her limiting beliefs
  4. Work on flipping those beliefs to ones that are far more empowering.

I heard from her a couple weeks later that she had, in fact, replace the fan after finding a loving new home for the broken one, and she’s working on validating her new beliefs by taking more action to show herself that she is deserving and worthy.

When reconciling the dilemma of getting rid of items that still have life left in them, there are a few different “costs” to look at:

  • The actual price of an item,
  • The lifetime cost, and
  • The energetic cost.

Ten years ago, I paid $8 for that sugar bowl.

It cost me $0.80 per year to use it.

Energetically, it bankrupted me. Seriously. That clanging noise threw energy out of my body every time I heard it.

The above calculation, for me, results in a definite “buh bye” to the sugar bowl. No question about it.

Even if something is in good condition and serves a purpose, but you no longer love it, consider the cost to you to keep it; how much it drains your energy; what negative connections you may have to it; or the space it’s taking up in your life that something much better could fill, whether related to that item or not.

If that isn’t enough for you to let it go, dig a bit deeper. What story are you telling yourself about why it’s not ok to get rid of it?

Peeling more layers can help uncover some things you may not have realized were there. Maybe you, like my radio caller, have an old story telling you that you have to take what you can get, or that you should be happy with what you have, or that you don’t deserve nice things.

Whatever your inner dialogue is telling you about why you should keep something you no longer love, need, or use is the real clutter.

And therein lies the gift of the item you’re struggling to let go of — it’s giving you the chance to clear some much deeper clutter — limiting beliefs that are likely holding you back in many areas of your life.

Working on clearing clutter is the best way to uncover the message in the mess as it stirs things up and puts you face-to-face with the challenge.

To make this a regular habit, try this:

Put an empty box by your front door, and every day, find something to add to it. Then, at the end of the month, send it off to the thrift store.

As you look for things to put in the box, pay attention to your thoughts, feelings, and inner chatter to hear what your resistance has to say. Jot them down in your journal and use those messages as prompts to dig deeper.

It’s this digging and excavating that will help you discover What Your Clutter Is Trying to Tell You!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Talk to me in the comments below.

8 replies
  1. Vicki lee
    Vicki lee says:

    Love it. I do this more these days, recognising when there is energy being expended on something like that, either noisy, ill-fitting or bit ratty-tatty. And often it’s a habit just putting up with it until I recognise those thoughts in a present moment. My main thing too when I’m wrestling with thoughts of, ‘It’s still functional’, ‘It’s still got some life in it’ or whatever is cluttering my truth, is to then say to myself, ‘I’m worth more than that’ or simply not putting up with second-best. It’s quite an empowering shift when I treat myself better and it can happen with the smallest or cheapest of things. Anything where I get stuck, I examine a bit closer to discover what’s really going on. Thanks Kerri.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Yes, Vicki! Great stuff. You hit the nail on the head — you’re worth more than that. And, chances are, there’s someone out there who would love the item. I’m sure my sugar bowl/Q-Tip holder has already found a new home! Thanks for joining the conversation.

  2. Cheryl Dooley
    Cheryl Dooley says:

    I love what you are talking about, our stuff carries energy and drains us, finding the reason why we keep something is the key, thank you so much.
    I am a tasker for Task Rabbit, and help clients organize,
    The things I have seen are shocking, you just helped me to help them.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      You’re welcome, Cheryl! Yes, people are not their “stuff.” If they struggle to let go of things, there is more going on. You can read a whole lot more about this in my book, What Your Clutter Is Trying to Tell You. It’s a Kindle deal on Amazon for the month of May — just $1.99! 🙂

  3. Kit
    Kit says:

    I like your approach. I hate most minimalist literature. More is not usually really more, of course. But less is also not necessarily more. I want the right amount of the right stuff to have what is a rich, full, happy enough life for me. A minimal amount of what is unimportant to me. But a slightly generous amount of what is most important to me, including friends, dogs, reading opportunities, and physical activity. None of those seem to require vast amounts of stuff, but for me it would definitely not fit comfortably in 230 square feet of floor space without very high ceilings and elaborate pulleys! My current house has a comfortable 590 square feet of floor space and except when travelling I do not want to go smaller!

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Hi Kit, thanks for joining the conversation. You got it — each of us gets to decide what’s clutter and what is not; what is the perfect amount of stuff for us and what isn’t. There is no one size fits all. It’s more about what makes you feel nurtured versus what makes you feel stressed. It sounds like you’re on that!

  4. Kit
    Kit says:

    But I also do not always feel that new is better either. Jeans that get softer with wear or well oiled leather moccasins are better than brand new. The key is knowing yourself, what you value.

    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Exactly, Kit. To each her own. I, too, love a worn pair of jeans, but a broken fan would drive me crazy! Clutter is all about what you define it as.


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