Are sentimental items one of your the biggest organizing roadblocks? Watch this video for strategies for dealing with emotionally charged clutter. You may be surprised at my take on sentimentality.
(Click here to watch on YouTube if you can’t see the embedded player. Or watch the video at http://bit.ly/tcdsent.)
Hi, I’m Lorie Marrero creator of The Clutter Diet Book and online program. I want to talk about sentimental objects today in a way that you might not expect.
People ask me all the time about this, and the advice that you’ve heard from me and other organizing experts, is that if you don’t use it, and you don’t love it, you shouldn’t keep it. Sometimes, these kinds of objects bring a lot of uncertainty to us, and are difficult to decide about. That can be very provocative about what’s really going on with us in our emotional lives. Be very mindful when you run across something like this and explore it.
When you’re thinking about trophies, mostly you’re thinking about a symbol of accomplishment and achievement- overcoming some kind of obstacle. There are the obvious trophies of things that are positive, and there are trophies that represent overcoming something negative in your life. If you are going through a decluttering project and you run across some memorabilia that’s painful for you, it might be a good idea to get rid of it if it’s going to be permanently painful. If you feel like that’s finished business for you and you really don’t want to have it in your life.
There are other things like trauma, and death, and loss that might be a little less obvious to get rid of. What I would caution is, if you get rid of that too soon, there may be work that you want to do on that area of your life that might make you view those items differently later. This is not a license to keep everything that you’re uncertain about. But I’d like you to run across these certain items and ask yourself if there’s more work to be done. Is this unfinished business? If so, this might be the prompt that you need to finish that business in your life. So don’t display those items until they become a full circle experience for you to look at. They need to be something that you look at and experience a feeling of triumph, achievement and overcoming.
Here’s a story about this pillow. I grew up in a small town in West Texas that’s known as the wool and mohair capital of the world. This is a pillow made out of alpaca wool, and it was purchased in my home town by my sister and my sister-in-law– and was given to me as a holiday gift. There was a time in my life that I would never have been able to display it in my home. I experienced trauma growing up in that town and I left it as soon as I could, and going back there to visit was very triggering for me in a lot of ways. I did a lot of self-development work, a lot of therapy and counseling, and I worked on this a number of times over many, many years, to the point that I feel triumphant over that issue in my life. Now, when I look at this pillow it is brings a feeling of achievement to me that is such a full circle beautiful thing that it fits beautifully in my house now. It represents the fact that I’m no longer held down by that issue, that I have taken back my power in my life over what happened to me long ago.
There may be things like this in your life that you want to display in your home, because they do make you feel good now. If you put them away and keep them as a reminder that you need to do the work that might actually be a healthy thing for you. I have a friend who went through a rehab experience for addiction, and he has the bracelet that he wore in the rehab hospital and he put it in a shadow box in his home, and he is not embarrassed for anyone who comes over to see him to see that in his shadow box. He will be the first to tell you how proud he is of that experience and how it changed his life.
If you have these kinds of trophy objects in your life, don’t be afraid to display those, because they have a wonderful story behind them and they may inspire other people. Don’t keep everything for this reason, be very judicious about it. Please share in the comments if you have trophy objects that you’d like to talk about.
We’ll see you next time and may you always be happy and grateful for having more than enough.
You may have been searching for when is it ok to keep sentimental items or how to decide what to keep.