Letting Go of Sentimental clutter

Do you have an issue with letting go of sentimental clutter or possessions?  Many people do and it’s a common question I get asked or have to assist a client with hence why I decided to pen this BLOG.

IMG_2803Most of us hold on to possessions that have a memory attached.  Rest assured the urge to hold onto meaningful clutter is normal.  It could be letters, children’s clothing, war medals, photographs, ornaments and the list goes on.  The items we keep are most likely different for each of us.

There is nothing wrong with holding onto things that have sentimental value.  I have a few pieces of clothing from when my children were little and some of their favourite toys.  The other sentimental items we have are my grandfather’s navigator hat that he gave to my son and an antique clock. Other than that we actually don’t have many other items boxed up or lying around.

It is just not practical to keep every memento or item as it would be very hard to find somewhere for each item and more importantly it doesn’t give honour to those sentimental items that are really special.

Another reason many people hold on to items is that they were given them by loves ones and by choice would not necessarily have purchased them themselves.  Often these sentimental items are usually packed away and very rarely sighted so why then is parting ways with sentimental items so difficult?

Here are a few things that might assist you with your sentimental clutter and the decision making process:
  1. It’s important, like with any clutter, if an item no longer brings you any joy then it is usually a sign to part ways.
  2. Holding on to sentimental items can imprison us but letting go can set you free.  Free yourself of the weight – maybe not all of it but at least some of it by partying ways with some of the items.
  3. As The Minimalists often say ‘our memories are not in things’ – our memories are inside us.
  4. Enlist some help but make sure it is the right kind of help to allow you to make your own decisions
  5. Another way of putting it is ‘the value isn’t often the items themselves but the stories behind them’.  Maybe you could go through them with someone else and share the stories or if you like get a recording of you holding certain items and talking about them.
  6. You can also take photos of items and keep the memory that way rather than necessarily holding onto everything.  We have tended to do this quite a bit with our children’s art work and projects otherwise we would have had to build extra rooms in our house to store them.
  7. Let time pass – if the items are not already boxed up then it can be useful to put them in a box for a period of time to see if you miss them or not?  Sometimes we are not ready to deal with such items so this method could assist particularly if you are grieving or downsizing.  Be assured that usually our relationship to sentimental clutter changes over time.
  8. By letting go of items that no longer add value to our own lives we are then able to give them to others where they will have a new home and thus a new purpose.
  9. By having few sentimental items we are able to enjoy them more – usually you get more value from the fewer items you keep rather an having hundreds of unloved items.  A quote I like to use is ‘save the best and toss the rest’.
  10. When going through items it is okay to have strong emotions – some will be positive and others negative.  You need to be able to experience emotion so you get to a point where you can actually let go of the items – or at least some of them.

The other thing I often say to clients about sentimental things is if they are actually very important then you should honour them and display them rather than keeping them in a box in the cupboard.

So let me ask are you holding onto any sentimental items that no longer serve a purpose or bring you joy?  Are they weighing you down?  Are they items that could someone else if you gave them away?  Would you benefit if you let some of them go?  Maybe it is time for you to make the decision and let go.

A couple of approaches you can take:
  1. just jump in and get rid of everything (now this isn’t for everyone but might work for some) or
  2. take small steps and start by going through and making decisions about a few items and then each day make more decisions about others – you can then do more as you feel more comfortable in making decisions.

Good luck!

If you find you are still struggling to make a decision and would like some assistance then I am more than happy to help you with the process – please get in touch amanda@organisingyou.com.au or 0409967166.