Lose your mementos, not your memories

by Tina ~ November 11th, 2015.

I guess it’s no secret that I have a sentimental streak. I’ve already blogged about some of my treasured keepsakes. I’ve also shared some ideas to help you organize your memorabilia and preserve your family memories.

But don’t get me wrong. It’s just not practical to keep mementos of everything. For one thing, finding homes for it all would be a logistical nightmare! Just as importantly, it doesn’t give proper honour to those items that are truly special.

 “Our memories are within us, not within our things.” - Joshua Fields Millburn

This where it gets hard.

When you’ve lost someone special, or as your babies grow up, it’s tempting to hold onto things that keep your memories alive. Sometimes you’re compelled to keep a loved one’s belongings even if you don’t know the story behind them.

As Bonnie Dewkett said in Why We Own Stuff: The Psychology of Letting Go,

We tie our happiness or sadness to these items and store them away. Often we rarely look at them; we simply WANT to keep them for the emotions they evoke.

Through helping clients deal with such items and my own experience, I’ve come up with a few ways to help you get through the process of letting go.

Set a tangible goal

Instead of just saying, “I need to get rid of this stuff,” set a measurable goal, such as whittling down from seven boxes to three. Have a plan in mind as to what you’ll do with the items you decide to keep.

Don’t be afraid of your emotions

Recognize that going through your keepsakes, or those of your loved one, is going to evoke strong emotions, both bad and good. Just go with the flow.

Your goal at this point is to process your emotions and get to a place where you can let go of the actual objects – or at least some of them. It’s totally okay if you’re not ready to get rid of everything, and there will likely be treasures that you’ll want to keep indefinitely.

Share your stories

In most cases, the value isn’t in the objects themselves, but in the stories behind them. So find someone to sit with you as you sort through your keepsakes – perhaps a younger family member – and tell them the stories. If they record a video of you holding the items as you talk about the memories associated with them, it will be even more special.

Preserve your memories

Other ways to retain memories without keeping the actual objects involved include:

When it comes down to it, you don’t need to clutter up your space with physical objects to preserve your important family memories.

Is there something you’ve had a hard time letting go of? How did you finally do it… or did you?

Photo courtesy of Sean Kirkpatrick, used under a Creative Commons license.

Categories: home organization.
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