What to do when things feel too sentimental to let go

People often tell me they struggle to let things go when they have lots of meaning or feelings connected to them. I often find it helps to talk for a while in order to better understand what is happening with their attachment to objects and to try and loosen their hold a bit.

Some people just need a little more encouragement and a creative way to deal with more sentimental items. Here are my top tips, taken from the Dealing with memories section of my Home Declutter Kit:

Photo it

Often we keep objects just to serve as memory joggers. A photo can do just that job just as well. Today, most of us are lucky enough to have smartphones which means we can take photos immediately and the decision is made. Sometimes photos in situ are better and might take a bit more crafting, but it can be worth taking the time.

Creative Project

a. Turn your kids’ drawings into a collage and then frame it.
b. Style up the object or objects you want to photograph
c. Can’t let go of clothes from a grownup child or someone who’s no longer around? Make them into a soft toy or cushion, or if you are not creative, send it away to Love Care and Create and they will do it for you.
d. Put those photos in that photo album and decorate it

Frame it

If you did any of the above, then don’t stop there, finish the project (always important for creative types)! Frame it and put it on the wall. Isn’t that nicer than having a box filled with stuff under the bed that you never look at? Many people like to collect tickets from special occasions, these are brilliant to frame. I met a lady once, an interior designer, who had done just that. Make your memories into something beautiful like this too.

     

Ritual

Lastly, don’t underestimate the power of ritual. Many of you will be familiar by now with Marie Kondo’s suggestion that you say goodbye to items once you have used them. I am not going to suggest that with everyday objects. But ritual definitely has its place when it comes to sentimental things, like a wedding dress from a marriage that has come to an end or items connected to a special pet. Take the object, photograph it, create a ritual around it and then let it go.

I did this whole process with a client once with her wedding things that had been sitting in the wardrobe for 10 years. We collected them on a chair as a creative project and laid them all out. She took photos of them, then we lit a candle to honour that time in her life. After honouring the grief and meaning of that time she was finally able to let things go.

 

What do you have that is holding you back?

 

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