lifestyle · minimalism

Minimalism: How to Deal with Sentiment

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Cards one person sent to me.   As someone who has had penpals for years and years, I shred or burn every letter after I respond to it now.  Every letter I once held on to, is gone. I’m okay with that. 🙂

Many people really value their gifts given to them by people they love who may be gone now or who just mean a lot to them.  I have become unsentimental when it comes to items, yet sentimental to actual memories.

Early on in my first minimalist adventure that I did alone when I was pregnant with Leto, I went a little crazy in getting rid of some things that meant a lot to me.  I have no regrets and that was ten years ago.  I had so many boxes and items that I held on to.  I threw out the only two trophies I owned, certificates I received in my school years, and even artwork that won a few awards.  I don’t regret getting rid of them.

I can tell you that I even had a little playground wood chip from 2nd grade that meant a lot to me because my friend Rachel and another 2nd grade friend each had one named “Fifi,” “Fufu,” and “Fafa.”  It was one of my first “friend memories” which is why I kept it.  I held on to that for so long and looked at it and said, “I remember this without needing to own it.”  Even Rachel tells me, “You remember everything.”  I don’t need to own anything to remember it.  She probably doesn’t even remember those sticks, and that is okay because at least she is still my friend, and that is what matters most.

The object is not what matters.

How do you get rid of sentimental things?
Take the object that you own that means a lot to you.  Some people may want to take a picture of it and put it on their computer so they can remember it that way.  I take photos of some of my sons’ best artwork that they make without keeping it.  I have done the same with my own artwork over the years.  I don’t want to have clutter about.

Is this object you hold sentiment over only important to you because of the memory of the person?  If it is, get rid of it or sell it.  Is it an object you worked on with that person?  I can understand it being tougher if it was handmade.  Does that object sit around or is it hidden somewhere? If it is, there is no need for it.  If it serves no purpose, why own it?  If it is so valuable, find a way to display it.  If you don’t really want to, seriously, think about why you really feel like you have to hold on to it.

I have sold things that meant a lot to me so that I can use that money for something more purposeful for me now (like food for the family) or I have passed it on to someone who could use it.  I will admit I have thrown out or recycled a few other items.  I don’t regret getting rid of those items.  I do regret that I purchased or that a person paid money for some of those items when its only purpose was collecting dust and “looking pretty” for a time.

Don’t feel ready to get rid of a sentimental item yet?
Don’t push yourself if you really aren’t ready.  Get rid of things little by little, and in time you may find that you won’t need it any longer.  I go through things on a regular basis.  There are some things I just haven’t been able to get rid of yet (though there are hardly any items like that).  I find more freedom when I hold on to the love of a person, not the things that person I love gave me.

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A drawing my 7 year old made that I took a picture of to remember it by.
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