Change is a constant force. It’s happening now, it’s happening always. As we change so do our possessions. Some are useful, some are beautiful, and some are sentimental.
Sentimental value is defined as the value of an object deriving from personal or emotional associations rather than material worth. So what causes these emotional associations? Often we believe that within an object lies a part of a person or place that we love, as if by looking at it we can bring back a person or a moment in time. The thing is, these memories are in your mind with or without the object. When your grandfather dies you don’t cease to forget him because you don’t have any of his things. Your grandmother doesn’t know that you gave away her dining room chairs because you didn’t need them after she passed on. A lot of guilt is associated with getting rid of things after someone passes away, almost like you’re letting them go with each passing teacup. In reality, letting go is a healthy, natural, and necessary process. It is an inevitable fact of life and stretching it out for 20 years through the saving of objects isn’t doing you any favours.
If something is given to us and we have no use for it, we should not pack it away in storage. These unnecessarily stored items bring heaviness into our lives that we may not realize. The associated costs of holding on to objects such as these comes when we re-organize our basements for the 100th time, pay for extra storage lockers or bigger homes, and feel the guilt every time the object is unpacked and reassessed. We shouldn’t let positive emotions from the past create negative effects in the present, the place where life is actually happening. The solution lies in our realization that objects in storage waste our time, cost us money and cause us stress. There is no such thing as a priceless object. The only things that are priceless are things you cannot buy in the first place; love, peace, health. The sooner we’re at peace with the fact that every object we own could disappear tomorrow and that life would still go on, the sooner we can let go of the fear of that loss.
A simple strategy to take with sentimental objects is to label each item as keep, trash, or sell. One sentimental item that I have is my engagement ring. The diamond in my ring once belonged to my husband’s grandmother. I wear it every day and it is both beautiful and valuable. This is the type of sentimental object we can keep. The last time I went home, my mom dragged from the depths of my closet my childhood blanket. Let me tell you, this thing had seen better days my friends. She asked me if we could get rid of it and I said yes. Growing up I was extremely attached to this blanket well beyond an appropriate age. All that remained was a tattered shell of its former glory. This blanket was no longer useful or beautiful and it was taking up precious closet space for more than 15 years! This is the type of sentimental object we can trash. This year I decided to sell my wedding dress. I would never wear the dress again. Never. The daughter that I don’t have probably won’t want to wear it either. This dress takes up a decent amount of closet space and has absolutely zero use in my life. I have amazing photographs of me wearing the dress and that is enough. Someone else can benefit from a discounted dress price and I can spend the money on something positive in my life now. This is the type of sentimental object we can sell.
Another strategy is to photograph any items you are having a hard time letting go of. The photos won’t take up physical space in your computer and will still jog a memory or two from times passed. In fact, you should scan all of your old photographs stashed away in albums and picture boxes to prevent them for getting damaged or lost and to save space in your home. Back them up in more then one place including a cloud system and they’ll be safe and accessible any time you need them!
When it comes to objects, thinking about the worst-case scenario often helps. If I lost my engagement ring would my relationship with my husband change? Would my relationship with his grandma change? The answer is no. I would feel sadness, I would remember it fondly, and then I would let it go. The truth is the loss of the ring would change nothing about the quality of my day-to-day life. Even useful sentimental objects in this way can be reduced to what they truly are…things not emotions. We add the emotions ourselves.
Remember this; good times and good people are in our memories, and in our hearts. No part of them is in our things. They are worth much more than that.