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Simplifying the Emotional Stuff

One of the reasons I've put off simplifying or de-cluttering over the years is because it just seems too hard emotionally to go through some of the items. Making a decision as to what to keep and what to discard can be challenging. Marie Kondo refers to these items as a momento; reminders of a person or a time when these items gave us joy.

Examples of this for me have been; old school books, my Nana's collection of royal family memorabilia, toys my nieces use to play with when they were little, a wedding dress, a duvet cover my Dad bought me when I was 13, and hundreds of old photos.

All of which are one or more of the following; never used, never see the light of day, old, out of style, or way past their life span.

So why are they hard to part with? Because it feels like we are saying goodbye. Clearing these items out can be exhausting because it requires us to make choices - and making choices is hard. It takes intellectual energy and emotional energy.

I've gone straight to the expert on this topic. Here are some key insights from Marie Kondo about parting with a momento.

The thought of disposing them sparks the fear that we'll lose those precious memories along with them.

No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are important.

Handle each sentimental item and decide what to discard. Ask 'Does this spark joy?"

Keep the items that still spark joy.

To put your things in order means to put your past in order, too. It's like resetting your life and settling your accounts so that you can take the next step forward.

It is not our memories, but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson that our keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live now should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

Here are some strategies and ideas for letting go of a keepsake/momento.

Use the Kondo method; hold the item closely and ask "Does this spark joy?" If it does, you keep it. If it doesn't, thank it for everything it means to you and has meant to you and then let it go. I can tell you from my own experience that once the items are gone, you never miss them.

Keep the treasured items you are going to keep in one place, for example a special box or container. That way, when you visit the items again they are all in one place.

Keep one of each. For example, with my Nana's royal family collection I inherited 25 books on the royal family. They have sat in my house for 10 years and not once have I opened any of them. I ended up keeping one special book of Princess Diana (Nana's favourite royal). It sparks so much joy for me when I look at it.

Go through photographs with someone. I recently spent a whole day with my Mum going through her boxes of old photos. She very quickly lost focus and spent most of the day taking photos of the photos with her phone and sending them to her sisters! If I hadn't done it with her, she never would have made it past the first 50 pics. Keep only photos that inspire joy. According to Kondo "In many cases, the prints developed afterward have already outlived their purpose. The meaning of a photo lies in the excitement and joy you feel when taking it."

Get rid of duplicates and useless photos. When I was younger (in the nineties) you had to get a film developed and you would end up with all of the photos from the reel, resulting in a lot of unusable photos. Only keep one or two photographs of the same event.

Capture an image. Take a photograph of an item you love, but you know you have no use for any longer. I recently parted with a framed picture of a quote I love. For a long time I hadn't been able to let it go, but I also didn't have it hanging on a wall. It's been leaning up behind a spare bedroom door. So although I loved it, I didn't love it enough to hang it.

I took a photograph of it and sent it off to The Hospice Shop for someone else who needs it.

Send items away with love. When I do part with special items, I thank them and give them away with love. I've never once regretted parting with anything. It feels wonderful to gift items to Hospice or The Salvation Army. Knowing that someone else will gain joy from your loved items is heartening.

These are just a few tips on how to part with special items that hold special memories and emotions. It takes time and courage to part with items we love and hold dear.

Always ask yourself... Do I need it? Do I love it? Do I use it?

If it doesn't fall into any of these categories, consider letting it go.

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