Below is a conversation that anyone who has helped a loved one declutter and downsize has probably had. See if it resonates with you as well:
“No. I want to keep it,” was something he repeatedly said, insistently, and yes stubbornly too.
“Where will you put it?” I asked, urging him to envision what I saw: his next home filled to the ceiling with stuff he didn’t use or need.
“I don’t know. But I want to keep it,” he’d say adamantly.
I sighed under my breath.
“Let’s put this one in the “maybe pile,” and we’ll come back to it later. Right now, our priority is identifying the essentials, the things you can’t live without. The rest, we’ll come back to later.”
“Okay,” he would mutter, hanging on to the fact that it was not gone yet.
The act of holding on
It’s a part of human nature to hang on when we trust in something or someone when we have a level of comfort with the known and the desire to avoid the unknown.
We hang on because it’s easier to do than letting go.
The act of holding on – in relationships, with sentimental items, with impactful memories, and die-hard habits is always challenging.
Decluttering, whether it is for ourselves or helping a loved one, can be emotionally draining. The first step to letting go is to understand the feelings and fear you have around parting with a particular item.
The art of letting go
As you feel yourself holding onto something – an idea, a feeling, a person, an object, a memory – ask yourself how it’s serving you. Is it helping you to live your life fully, or is it holding you back? Is there something you can do to unpack it so you can see the source of why you’re holding onto it so tightly.
Letting go of sentimental items is a process of honouring the story, the moment, your feelings and asking yourself why you are hesitating to let go.
Sometimes we hold on to things because we worry we might need it again. If you haven’t used it on over a year or longer, chances are you won’t need it again, but if you do, remember, you can always borrow, rent or repurchase it if you absolutely need to.
It is common to have a lot of guilt about getting rid of items given by a loved one. When guilt shows up, remember that the loved one who gave you that item will still love you, even if you no longer own the item they gave you. It’s okay to let it go – chances are they have let go of items you have given them.
We also keep things that represent “someday.” They represent our hopes and dreams, such as craft supplies, books and musical instruments. If you want to keep these items, consider storing some of them to re-evaluate or use in the future. Check out the best organizing solutions for what you are saving and how to store them so they will not be damaged.
As you assess and see the item and the situation for what it is, ask yourself if it’s better to keep holding onto it or if it’s time to let it go so you can find happiness, health, and inner peace.
If letting go is hard for you or if you are trying to help a loved one let go and need some assistance, please reach out. This is what we do daily with clients. We help them to feel good about donating, gifting, repurposing items so that they can move forward. We’d love to help you or your loved ones do the same.