Minimalism 101: The Easy Secret of How to Let Go of Sentimental Items
It’s the memories that are important, not the objects themselves
We all collect stuff. We have things that remind us of a vacation, a family event, a special achievement, or a special relationship. Over the years, you end up with quite a collection.
Or maybe you have to clear out the possessions of a loved one and you see how much stuff they have collected over the years. We keep things because they have sentimental value and once we form that attachment to an item, it is hard to let them go.
That’s why minimalism can be so important to our well-being. Learning how to let go helps keep us from getting bogged down by the past, so we are ready for the present and future.
Letting Go Physically, Not Emotionally
Being unable to let go means you end up carrying all the stuff with you, everywhere you go. When it’s moving time and you come across all those boxes in the garage, you wonder why you still have them.
But then you open them up, take the trip down memory lane, and you are overwhelmed with emotions and a need to take the boxes with you on your new adventure.
And so, the cycle continues.
The concept of minimalism has nothing to do with getting rid of things that matter. Yes, it involves cleaning up your space and your life, but you keep what matters.
What matters are your memories, and they live within you not objects. When you hold on to the possession, you end up trapped. Letting them go frees your mind and your spirit.
Those special people and events are still in your heart and in your memory, but you are free and clear.
We have a fear about forgetting what is important to us, which is why we keep items and mementos. You don’t have to throw everything out, but you can minimize the stuff you keep.
You’ll be surprised how easily you remember and recall things without the need of a prop. Again, minimalism is not about getting rid of stuff, it is about refocusing your life, removing clutter, and keeping what matters close to the heart.
Why You Need to Let Go
Collecting items and keeping stuff only adds clutter, which can interfere with your daily life, both physically and mentally. There are a number of benefits to clearing up clutter, even if the items are sentimental to you:
Reduce anxiety: Having things overflowing from your drawers, falling out of the closet, and taking up the extra parking space in the garage is a source of anxiety. It not only prevents you from finding things when you need them but the physical disarray you see each day can be unsettling.
Be more productive: By removing physical obstructions and having better overall organization, you can be more productive. When there are not piles of papers everywhere, or boxes in your way as you move around, you can get more done.
Every time you come across the stored items, they become a distraction from what you really need to be focusing on.
Lose some weight: By unloading some of those boxes you have been moving from house to house, you lose some figurative weight as there is less to worry about. You also have the opportunity to burn some real calories through the act of cleaning up and clearing out.
Mental focus: It is said that our external environments are mirrors to our internal world so a cluttered house is a cluttered mind. By shedding the boxes, you shed mental weight too, and free up your brain for more productive processing.
For those who practice feng shui, clear spaces allow for metal energy, which promotes focused and sharper thinking.
Emotional health: Many items you keep hold sentimental value and coming across them reminds you of good times.
These memories are always with you, so you don’t necessarily need the physical reminders. Plus, you have to remember that sometime bad memories come back too, and this is not always healthy.
Since you cannot control which emotions will come back every time, get rid of the stuff. The happy memories will linger because you recall them more often, and the bad ones can slip to the background, keeping you emotionally stable.
Boost creativity: Creativity needs a clear mind to flourish, and physical obstructions can cause mental obstructions. Clearing away old items opens the door for a clear head and creativity can flow. 4
Regarding emotions which can also block creativity, removing the memories also helps to keep your mind focused to truly benefit you.
If you find that you are truly attached to certain items and not able to let go. Simply box them up and store them away. Chances are that over time you will be able to let them go, but at least they are not staring you in the face every day.
It also helps to have a friend help you, both to support you as you deal with any emotions and to pack it away for you, if you struggle. Getting rid of sentimental items involves a healing process, and support is an important part of this.
The Natural Conclusion
Remember to get rid of sentimental items slowly and over time. The Japanese method of clearing out clutter, KonMari, can be helpful.
It is important to work through the emotions associated with the items because shutting it all out and throwing it away will only come back to haunt you. When emotions are not dealt with, you open yourself to anxiety and depression, as well as physical health problems.
Take your time going through things. Let go slowly and at your own pace.