In Gretchen Rubin’s recent article in The New York Times, she said:
While we’re constantly bombarded with messages of “More!” and “Buy now!” we’re also offered the tantalizing promise “You’ll be happier with less!”
She goes on to say that achieving simplicity is not as cut and dry as it may seem. Like some relationships, it can be complex. And, it can get especially complicated when you have to let go of things that have high sentimental value.
Rubin also suggests that we need to keep things that are precious to us. Striking the right balance between how much to keep and how much to let go of can be difficult if everything is (seemingly) dear to you. How do you decide what stays and what goes? It’s this part of the process that can stop you in your tracks. And, there are times when you’re forced to make a decision, like when you’re moving to a smaller home (or office) or if you have to sort through the belongings of a loved one who has passed away.
Though you may not know what to do with everything, there are some steps you can take until the time comes for you make a decision.
- Pack them away. When your emotions get the best of you, it can be difficult to make a final decision about what to purge and what to keep. You might find yourself changing your mind many times. This can add to any stress you’re feeling, so you may want to put those items in a box to review later. But, before you put that box in the garage or the top shelf in your closet, add a label with the contents and an expiration date. Choose a reasonable timeframe that you think will give you enough time to figure out what to do. And, if/when that time comes and you still haven’t decided what to do with them, give yourself permission to let go of the box and everything in it.
- Capture the moment. One of the reasons we hold on to documents is because we want the information that on them. The same can be true for sentimental objects. Sometimes, it’s not the object but the memory that the item conjures up for us that we wish to save. Consider writing down (or recording) your memories and feelings associated with those cherished items. A paper journal may be all you need, but you also can create a digital scrapbook (and include photographs) or start a blog to capture all your memories. This way, you’re still honoring the objects without having to keep them.
- Pick the best. As you try to decide what to keep, select the things that mean the most to you or that are in the best condition. Then, put them in a spot in your home or office that you can easily see them. Over time, your feelings for them might wane. By then, you will have enjoyed them and be ready to pass them on.
Making a decision about an emotionally charged object is a tricky endeavor. But, you don’t have to have all the answers right away or to decide what to do immediately. And, if you keep in mind that you likely can’t keep everything, you’ll be able to part with items that are truly clutter and keep the ones that mean the most to you.