How to Let Go of Sentimental Items

Parting with possessions is tough for a lot of people to do. The generalized question of whether it brings you joy doesn’t always help us rid our spaces of sentimental clutter. Sentimentality comes from memories—when our grandmother gave you that package of her old love letters that was a moment of connection between the two of you. When Dad gave you all of his old baseball jerseys, it was his way of showing how proud he was of your accomplishments. But when it comes down to it, these sentimental items often lie untouched, gathering dust.

Perhaps you don’t need, don’t use, or don’t like the item, but you have a sentimental memory attached to it that inhibits your ability to get rid of it. Though that memory remains, the thought of getting rid of the physical item seems impossible. However, that sentimental clutter can end up hurting you in other ways. It can keep you from moving forward, it can add stress, and it can cause more negative outcomes. To help you on your way, we came up with a few different ideas on how to let go of sentimental items. From focusing on the memory to understanding how you can help those in need, these steps will help you rid yourself of sentimental clutter.

Rid Yourself of Guilt

Your first step to letting go of sentimental items asks you to delve into your emotions. If you hold onto a sentimental item out of guilt, then that’s something that you don’t need. If you hold onto items out of love or nostalgia, that’s understandable, and you can follow along to the other tips for help with that. When it comes to keeping an item out of guilt, however, hanging onto it won’t remedy those emotions. It’s time to let that go.

Let Vulnerability In

Once you drive out your guilt, do your best to let vulnerability in throughout your process. Letting go of sentimental items can become emotional—sifting through your Mom’s journals or exploring your child’s hand-knit scarves is challenging, to say the least. But don’t push aside these emotions. You won’t end up getting rid of the items, or you’ll get rid of too much. Let vulnerability in—make purposeful choices as you make your way through these items. It may make the process longer, but it will make it more meaningful.

Take Pictures

When it comes to working through all these items, do yourself a favor and take photos. Take photos of your favorite journal entries, of old military gifts and awards, of old report cards, and more items you want to remember. This allows you to keep the photos and get rid of the items. With the power of technology, you can turn those photos into digital albums, which allows you to keep the memories forever. This is also your opportunity to digitize those boxes upon boxes of old photos.

Ask Yourself Focused Questions

The simple question of, “does this item bring me joy,” doesn’t tend to hit the mark when it comes to sentimental items. When you sift through these items, you’ll need to ask yourself some tougher questions. We list a few below:

  • Why am I keeping this?
  • Would I leave this as someone else’s responsibility?
  • Would a photo be enough?
  • Could someone else get more use of this than I am?
  • What do I truly want to keep?
  • What do I need in this season?

Donate Clothing and Home Goods

Something that may inhibit you from ridding this sentimental clutter sooner is the question of what to do with all of it, but really, it’s quite simple. Though an item may be sentimental for us, chances are it can prove even more useful for someone else. Take those old clothes you say you’ll wear, keep one, and donate the rest. Take your grandma’s old kitchenware and that old TV and donate them. Give away those items that you’ve kept in a futile attempt to retain memories. You can hold onto memories without all the stuff, and someone else will benefit from it. Set up a home good and clothing donation pick up with GreenDrop so that the goods go to those who need it.

Donate to Archives or Local History Museums

Now, on the other hand, a lot of the sentimental clutter you have may not be something a donation service will accept. Old photos, awards, and journals, for example, aren’t typically things donation organizations will accept, but that doesn’t mean the items need to go in the recycling bin. Instead, depending on what it was, whose it was, and when it was from, the items might have value to an archive or local history museum. You’ll have to get in contact with them beforehand to ensure its okay, but it’s a great way to know that someone else can use these items.

Understand the Impact

When you donate items, you help those in need. For example, when you donate to GreenDrop, you get to choose one of our four partner organizations, and those items will turn into a monetary donation for the charity. Not only will the items themselves go to a thrift shops for those in need, but a monetary donation will end up supporting the charity of your choice. These items that you’ve been holding onto will positively impact those around you.

Keep One of the Multitude

This step is quite simple; if there’s something you absolutely cannot part with, keep one and donate the rest. Whether it’s a scarf, a soccer ball, or a doll from a collection, choose one and then give away the others. You’ll still get the item and the memory associated with it, but you’ll still decrease your clutter.

We hope these ideas on how to let go of sentimental items will help you on your way to ridding sentimental clutter from your home. Truth be told, when you focus on the memories that come from these items themselves and let go of the heavy things, then you leave room to grow. You leave space for other sentimental items, and better yet, you live in the present instead of the past. Once you compile your items for donation, turn to GreenDrop. We can handle your donation pick up today—just plan a pick-up time or drop-off location. One of our trucks will be on their way to take those items to those who need it. If you’d rather, you can also drop off these items at one of our drop-off locations. Either way, we’ll take care of these items and they’ll benefit others.

Take your time sifting, and when you finish, contact GreenDrop.

Letting Go of Sentimental Items

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