If you’re looking to simplify, you’ve likely read the articles that say if you haven’t used it in a certain amount of time, if you have multiple items of the same thing, or if you don’t know what it is get rid of it.
Okay that can be easy.
But what about those items that do matter… a lot. But you have way too many of them: photos, cards, souvenirs, books, notes/letters, etc. How do you let go of those things that have begun to clutter your house, heart, and mind but you have an emotional attachment to? How do you simplify sentimental items?
That’s the struggle I have. I keep notes/letters, journals, photos, books, cards etc. Lots of paper, actually. So thankfully it doesn’t take up too much space, but I don’t need it all and it’s getting to be too much.
- Is there a pattern to your keeping certain items for years? Are they items from trips, certain people, certain type of item/theme, certain memory, remind you of a certain person?
I realized, besides the fact that most of the items I’m attached to are paper, they’re also uplifting items. So for me I had to ask myself: Do I need to keep all these notes? Can I just keep my favorites? I answered yes and shredded the rest. So freeing! Now when I go through them every so often and smile, I have a lot fewer to go through.
- How often do you look at or use the sentimental items? Every day, week, once a month, a couple times a year?
There were some items I looked at two or three times a year and others I hadn’t looked at in years, but made me smile. Then there were papers that I had moved on from emotionally and no longer needed that positive reinforcement. How often you look at them might be a good indication of how important they are to you.
- How strong is the emotional attachment?
However, just because you don’t look at something or use it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not important to you. Sometimes we don’t look at items because the emotion is too strong when we do. This likely means you’re not ready to let go of the items. That’s okay. It can take years to be ready to let go of memories and keep only certain mementos instead of all of them.
Select your favorite items and discard the rest (if you think you’re able – it took me years to get to that point).
Choose your favorite photo(s), memento and/or item and put them in a shadow box to display as a frequent reminder of the good memories.
Scrapbook your favorite photos if you like to be creative and have more time. I did this for a lot of my trips but I don’t look at them often; I’m more of a photo frame display type of person.
Find a way to repurpose the item so you can use it and have a reminder. My sister in law wanted to keep a leather bag of her dad’s because it was a good memory; if she chose to repurpose it she could use it to hold travel papers, important documents to refer to, magazines, etc.