Parting with sentimental items is always a difficult experience and can be one of the biggest barriers to simplifying your lifestyle or even just going through your closet for Spring cleaning. We all have these items: a childhood toy, an old blanket, souvenirs from a trip we took 15 years ago. More likely than not, they have zero monetary value. Usually, we haven’t even used the item in many years. Nevertheless, we have specific feelings, associations or memories tied to them. It does not matter that the item is useless or that we never use it. We hold onto these things because the feelings they evoke connect us to another time in our lives. Nostalgia keeps us attached to these items. I am no stranger to this phenomenon either. As your South Bay therapist, I know how difficult it can be to part with something that connects you to a special time in your life. That being said, parting with some of these items can in fact be quite therapeutic. This is because when we hold onto old stuff for sentimental reasons we end up taking up both physical and mental space in our present day lives. Instead of continuing to hold onto memories by holding onto material things, we can focus on treasuring the memory, not the item itself.
The first step in this process is to shift your focus to the memory rather than the tangible item. Your childhood stuffed animal is not proof of a happy childhood, your memories are. You do not need the old, ripped animal to remember a special time with friends or family. Your brain remembers for you. I encourage all of my clients to concentrate on the memories instead of the stuff stored in their closets. By taking it a step further getting rid of these items, you will free up more space in your home and declutter the space you already have. A cleaner, more organized space will allow you to live a more stress- free lifestyle. Also, always remember that getting rid of things does not mean you are throwing away your life or a piece of you. Instead, you are clearing unnecessary clutter from your life. You will still be you without these items, and you will have the memories to prove it.
As your therapist, I am not encouraging you to throw out every single sentimental item in your life. I am simply stating that some items may not be necessary any more. I am here to discuss and determine the difference. If a particular item brings you true happiness, keep it! But if an item sits in a box for years without being used or touched, that item is most likely unnecessary and is not helping you in any way. If you feel anxious about parting with these items, let’s talk through it. Together, we can identify why you feel this way, why you feel strongly about a particular item, and if it is absolutely necessary in your life or not. These discussions are good for your mental health and your connections to physical things.
Unfortunately, sentimental items often keep us in the past. They do not allow us to move forward while they are still in our possession. Some items may be tied to positive, happy memories. And others may be connected to sad, negative memories. These negative memories are dangerous. They connect us to a material object in an unhealthy way, forcing us to remember sad or angry feelings. We need to let these items go and move forward. For example, it is very normal to keep tokens from a past relationship, even after a breakup. However, at some point, we need to let these items go. By keeping them, we are remembering the person that we are no longer with and potentially remembering the pain they put us through. It is difficult to part with these types of items because they may be linked to a time of happiness which was then followed by a time of sadness. There are a lot of emotions wrapped up in the physical object. In the end, the best thing to do for our mental health is part with the object. I want all of my clients to live in the present, every day. By getting rid of these objects, you will live more presently.
Although it is a difficult process, I am here to help you through it. Parting with sentimental items is hard, but it is not impossible. Let’s set up a time to discuss which items can be parted with in your life. Then, we can free up space for more positive things or declutter your life and home. I truly believe that cleaning your life of unnecessary objects will give you a happier, healthier perspective on your life and mental well-being. Call or visit my South Bay office today. Together, we can discuss the benefits of parting with a sentimental item.