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  • Writer's pictureLauren Hass

Keepsake vs Clutter: 8 Questions to Help You Let Things Go

Do you have trouble letting go of certain items in your home? Do you hold onto things because you feel you must? You are not alone!

The reasons vary, but the situation is the same: I am with a decluttering client and she becomes uncomfortable, reluctant, and sometimes even emotional when we discuss parting with an item. But when you have to choose between stuff or space, and you want more space, be prepared to make some difficult choices.

Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself. Sometimes the right one might just bring about the outcome you want to achieve.

  1. Will you remember the occasion without the item? You attended the film festival in 2003 and still have the framed poster. But it’s dusty and doesn’t fit your décor. Can you acknowledge that it was a memorable experience without keeping the item?

  2. Does it spark joy? Made famous by Marie Kondo, I was doubtful of this strategy. However, sometimes it often does the trick. Hold the item in your hand and think about whether the item fills you with joy…or feels like a burden.

  3. Do you ever take the time to enjoy it? This might apply to old videotapes, a book you have never read, or gifts you received years ago. Your intentions may have been otherwise, but if you haven’t taken the time to use the item yet, you likely never will.

  4. Would you want to pay to move it? You may have an old piece of furniture or a box filled with a heavy set of china that you never use. Is it worth it to have it moved to your next home, especially if you’re downsizing? If not, it’s time to donate it and let someone else enjoy.

  5. Is it important to you or was it important to someone else? Just because your great aunt had the vase in a place of prominence, doesn’t mean you have to do the same.

  6. Are you keeping this item because it is your memory...or someone else's? This comes up in regard to items like family photos that are so old no one knows the people featured. We know you treasure your ancestors, but it’s okay to keep one or two and let the rest go.

  7. Does looking at this item make you feel good or does it conjure negative emotions? You may have once fit into a smaller size, but now looking at that dress conjures up feelings of guilt and self-pity. If you hit that size again, I promise you will enjoy the shopping trip!

  8. Will a photo do the trick? One tactic is photographing an item in order to feel comfortable letting it go. Knowing you can still see it from time to time might be all you need.

As you are considering each item, I wish you strength in recognizing the difference between a keepsake and clutter -- and I support your choice. However, only once you have pared down your surroundings to the things you need, use or love, will you find yourself feeling happier in your you deserve to be!

Photo credit: Ankush Minda on Unsplash. Edited by: Ilene Moyher.

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