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“I have memories – but only a fool stores his past in the future.” – David Gerrold

Most of us have sentimental stuff we keep to honor a memory, to remember people we love, places we’ve been, our history. They can bring us feeling of joy or sadness.

Most often they hold no monetary value yet we can’t let go. We feel attached.

But we aren’t.

We are not our things and our things aren’t truly part of us, unless we want them to be.

They only power they have in representing us is what we assign them to. What do you have that holds your identity? It’s okay to have sentimental stuff and hold on to something you love or are using to represent meaning in your life. BUT. It might be a problem if your sentimental stuff is:

Costing you time, money, energy or space you don’t have.
Reminding you of something or someone attached to painful thoughts.
Thrown in an old, dusty box somewhere, unkempt, unloved and untreasured.

Without looking around try making a list of your sentimental things. This might help you see what truly is sentimental. Do you even know what you own? If you don’t know or remember you own it, does it truly matter as much as you thought?

A question to ponder, how many items do you need to properly remember how someone made you feel? We often say about our stuff, “these things hold memories”. But that is incorrect. Memories are held in our minds and our hearts. Look at some of the things you have trouble letting go of and ask can you have the memory without the item?

Could you add meaning to something sentimental by donating it to a shelter, where it is very needed? A friend of mine had dozens of quilts from her family but only a few were special. She kept the few she truly loved and donated the rest to a quilt museum to showcase them for everyone to enjoy. She honored the ones she loved by sharing something beautiful so others could enjoy it. Is there someone else in need of your things?

Could you write it down? Often writing the story behind the item will help you remember so much more about the person it’s reminding you of than the actual item. Also, people want to pass on important items to their families but if your family doesn’t know the story behind it, it’s just more stuff to them. Having a written account of the history is more valuable.

Choose the things that mean most to you and your family and display them. Use the fine china. Wear the jewelry.

Some find it useful to actually thank an item for its service before they get rid of it. Gratitude is a key part of the process.

It’s a myth that getting rid of sentimental items is “throwing your life away”. Getting rid of stuff is not a rejection of people you care for.

The truth is if everything is sentimental then nothing is sentimental.

Focus on being in the present moment and the things to come. Think about your future. What is it that you want in your life?