You may be desperately short of space and get frustrated at the clutter all around you, and yet may feel unable to declutter due to a sentimental attachment to certain objects from your past. Even if you never use certain things, they may hold memories which are precious to you.

When You Can’t Let Go

For example, a retired school teacher I know has drawers and shelves full of teaching materials. She hasn’t used them since she retired, but because the material was so useful to her in her teaching days, because she loved her job, was good at it, and identified with it, she is unable to part with them. Yet she desperately needs the space to store other, more useful things.

Another example is a friend who is divorced and yet still keeps her wedding dress. Although her marriage was unhappy and she feels no attachment to her ex-husband any more, she cannot get rid of her wedding dress. She was so happy on her wedding day and so full of hope for the future, that she can’t bear to part with the dress. Yet it takes up a lot of space in her small house, and reminds her of her failed marriage every time she looks at it.

Living in the Past

Objects which represent something from the past can be hard to dispose of, as they evoke memories. But if they are taking up precious space then it can be impractical to keep bulky or numerous objects. They can also cause a tendency to live in the past, which can cause feelings of regret and melancholy that things have changed.

Make the Present Count

It is much healthier to live in the present and to look forward to the future. I would suggest that rather than keeping bulky objects it is better to take a photograph with a good camera (for example the wedding dress) or keep a sample (such as the teaching materials) and then dispose of the item. The dress could be sold and the teaching materials given to a school, or if hopelessly out of date, thrown away.

Whilst this may seem hard at the time, it’s important to move on in your life. Remember you still have your wedding photo in a lovely frame, teaching certificate, samples, or whatever minimal momentos you have chosen to keep, as a reminder. Most importantly of all you have your memories; a head full of precious memories that no one can take away from you. The physical space you gain is just the outward representation of the inner space and freedom that you have gained. Sometimes hard decisions can have the most rewarding results, as you gain control over your sentimental feelings and open up new choices.

Know Your Current Value

You know the value of who you were then, but now you can focus on the value of who you are today. The momentary pain of giving things away can lead on to feelings of release and freedom as you realise you are free to be a new you. You are no longer the school teacher, your ex-husbands wife, or any other role from your past.

Your future isn’t written but is yours to shape or forge in any direction you want. Who do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish in the future? You are now free to choose without sentimental objects imprisoning you in your past.