Sentimental Clutter – How to Begin?

Possessions that bring back memories are by far the hardest category of clutter for anybody to confront. After all, the things we accumulate often reflect our deepest thoughts and feelings.
Childhood possessions, boxes of photographs, clothing from different eras, the kids’ art projects, Nana’s special teapot, ticket stubs, handmade Father’s Day cards, sporting memorabilia, the list goes on….
Without proper attention, it all amounts to CLUTTER.
So what is proper attention, and how does one even begin? I believe that most of the difficulties that people face when trying to declutter memorabilia are simply the result of misplaced emphasis and goals. You see, many popular decluttering guides advocate a ruthless and somewhat one-size-fits-all approach. My style of mindful, intelligent decluttering is far more personal, positive and nuanced. Decluttering shouldn’t be about “getting rid of your stuff” it should be about curating your belongings to cultivate a wonderful environment!
The following series of posts are designed to help you asses your feelings about sentimental possessions, clarify your paradigm and act on your self-discoveries in positive and creative ways.
How to begin decluttering your memorabilia?
The first thing that needs to be done is to explore how strongly you actually feel about each of your sentimental possessions. I have crafted the following test to help get you started:
When you have some time, go get some of your memorabilia – a few things you are keeping for purely sentimental reasons. Spread the items out on the floor and take a good hard look. The object of this exercise is to try to parse out how much you genuinely respect these items. Think about the following questions and answer yourself honestly.
1. Are these items special enough to deserve a portion of the precious, limited physical space in my life? 
2. Do I cherish these items more than any other member of my family would? 
3. Are these items special enough to deserve my sustained attention and respect?
4. Imagine these items were being ransomed back to you.
How much would I be prepared to pay to get them back? Are these things actually worth spending some money on? 
5. Imagine the person ransoming the items made the return conditional. In order to keep your things you would have to dedicate an entire Saturday to doing nothing sorting, cataloguing, displaying, repurposing, creating storage for them etc.
Realistically, which items do I care for enough to commit to that?
6. Imagine the person ransoming the items offered another option. They get to keep the physical items, but they are willing to send you lots of digital photos to remember them by.
Would I still choose to spend my money and commit my entire Saturday to get the physical items back?
If you answered mostly no:
You may be ready to start letting some things go. That’s an awesome start! Now don’t get ahead of yourself, actually letting go can still pose severe emotional hurdles. Step back, take a deep breath and strategise. Stay tuned here to get the inspiration flowing, my next post will be all about strategies for letting go an moving on.
If you answered mostly yes
This is a really good thing. Get excited, you’re about to go on an amazing journey through your own history! If you were honest with yourself about your commitment to your memories, you will not only end up with a superb, interesting collection of memorabilia, but you will also learn to engage with your past in novel ways and perhaps even develop a new appreciation for recent family history.
The next step in your journey is to refresh your sentimental possessions by refreshing the way you think about them. Stay tuned here for further posts on the subject.
Guest Contributor – Tessa French:
Tessa loves helping busy families get more peace and enjoyment from their home environments. Information about her services – including decluttering, organisation, aesthetic adjustments and detail cleaning – is available in the Inner West Mums business directory and http://www.tessa2detail.com“
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Comments

  • Lorna fletcher
    24/07/2016 at 9:08 am

    Highly recommend Tess and her fabulous service. If you are looking for someone to organise a space, help you declutter or simply clean a space that you don’t know what do to with (or can’t face)….she is your woman!!!!!

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