The Allure Of Possibility Applicability

March 28, 2017

There are, of course, many reasons why people tend to hold on to things they don’t need or want. One such reason is something we’ll call The Allure of Possible Applicability. That is: people hold on to things they’ve yet to ever try out based on the hope that they might discover, upon using an item, that they need and love it.

The Allure of Possible Applicability (TAPA for short) causes people to hoard makeup and skincare samples. TAPA is the reason why people hold on to gadgets they bought impulsively or were given, but have yet to unwrap.

Hoarding samples? You need to read this post.

Image credit: XO Vain


TAPA leads people to believe that whatever they have in their possession that they have yet to test drive may just be the life-linchpin they’ve been missing out on. They imagine their processes and routines improved thanks to TAPA-items. They continue to tell themselves they want to try an item out, give it a go, see if it lives up to the hype. They think such things might revolutionize their turkey-cooking process, or improve their skin, or help to alleviate the blisters they get from wearing heels.

It is with a respectable frequency that my clients have, as their homework between sessions, the task of actually trying out whatever product or tool or garment they’ve been holding onto without ever actually being interested enough to utilize it.

Guess what happens? inevitably, they report that they couldn’t figure out how to operate the thing, or that they didn’t like the color of the lipstick, and we confidently release those things.

A lesson in decluttering: the allure of possibility applicability.

Image credit: Martha Stewart


I know; it feels mildly thrilling to have something in your possession that’s still new to you and may just be the answer to your prayers. Except if you can’t even muster up enough enthusiasm and interest to try an item out, evidently you aren’t lacking in that arena. You seem pretty satisfied with whatever you’re already using.

So, now I want to know: do you have any TAPA-things in your possession? If so, how long has TAPA held power of you, telling you to keep the item(s)? Do you actually care about testing that thing out to discover whether or not you’ve been missing out without it?

Or is it a matter of you wanting to avoid the commitment that it Simplifying, wherein you accept that you cannot and will not sample everything in this world, and you choose, instead, to be satisfied with what you know you need and love? 

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