It’s inevitable really. Somewhere in the process of clearing out the junk that is suffocating your life, you (or someone you live with) will fall victim to sentimental sabotage. You know what I’m talking about. That emotional attachment to stuff that makes it harder to get rid of things. Notice I said harder, not impossible.
I fell victim to this unfortunate circumstance this week after I cleaned out some of our drawers in the kitchen. I spent nearly two hours just going through a few drawers and then some family members came behind me and took things back out of the discard pile. I am partly to blame because I didn’t throw things out immediately. A fatal flaw, indeed, but I have learned from my mistakes.
I’m not talking about throwing out your wedding pictures or your child’s baby book. (Although when was that last time you looked at the lock of hair from your child’s first haircut). This is more about hanging onto to the clutter that you can’t seem to let go of. Maybe you’ll hear yourself in some of the statements below.
Sentimental Sabotage Statements:
- “I have to keep this because [insert random person’s name] gave it to me as a gift.“ Guess what, they don’t know or care if you get rid of it.
- “But I’ve had it forever.” That seems like long enough, don’t you think?
- “I might need it someday.” Chances are you really won’t need it. In fact, you probably have something else that would work just as well. If you discover that your life is meaningless or more difficult without out it, someone will probably sell you another one. (In fact, check eBay, someone else is probably trying to get rid of theirs anyway.)
- “It might be worth a lot of money.” Sure, it might be. Then again it’s only worth something if someone is willing to pay for it. If you’re too attached to sell it now, do you think you’ll be willing to sell it later? If you’re hanging onto something just to hand it down to your kids remember dead pack rats have miserable children.
Do any of those statements sound like you? We’ve all said those things at some point. So how do you overcome this sentimental setback to your minimalist efforts? Be honest with yourself and try to assess why you’re still holding onto that item. For example, a bent and half-broken fox head cake tester that you got for a wedding present (Hi, Mom! Yep, you’re my inspiration for this post.)
Some Questions to Ask if You’re Struggling with Emotional Attachments to Stuff:
- Do you still have it because of its function or its memories? If it’s more about the memories and doesn’t have serve much of a purpose it might be time to let it go.
- Would you tell all your friends they need to get one? Could you come up with any real reasons why they needed to go spend money on that kitchen gadget or knick-knack? If not, it’s time to say goodbye to your Perfect Brownie Pan.
- Is it important enough to pass down to your children when you die? If it’s important to you, write down the story of the heirloom for your children to read someday. Chances are they don’t know why you treasure it. If you can’t think of anything to write about it, then it’s probably not as special as you thought.
- Do you use it frequently? Seriously, when was the last time you needed it? Did you even realize where it was hiding all this time? If not, you probably won’t miss it in the future either.
The most important thing to remember when you’re trying to unclutter your life is keep the goal in mind. Just think of how much more time you’re going to have when everything has a home of its own and how easy it is to find the things you really need.