Practical Tips for Getting Rid of Sentimental “Stuff”

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:8-9, 12-14

By: Kerri Young

My Sentimental Nature on Display

If you read my post on Monday, you know that I tend to be a tad bit sentimental and have a, perhaps unhealthy, attachment to “dead flowers” (as my husband so lovingly refers to them when he attempts to dust them). In the picture on the left you can see said flowers as well as all the pottery I made in college 15 years ago and have never used once…. If you haven’t read my Monday post about “Stuff” yet, I recommend you go there first. =)

Today I want to share with you some helpful tips for conquering the clutter of sentimental stuff collecting in your house. I’m addressing the stuff that is sitting around because of some kind of emotional attachment we might have to it. I’m not going to touch the amount of unnecessary stuff we Americans accumulate just because we can, in general. That could be an entirely different blog post.

So, the following ideas and thoughts are things I have been told, read about, or have just come up with through my own experience. Hopefully some of these will inspire you or enable you to take steps toward letting go of “stuff”. I’m sincerely hoping that typing these out will do just that for me. =)

1. Pray. Ask Jesus to give you strength and peace as you tackle the hard stuff. Also ask Him to give you the right perspective on how we are supposed to be living…for the future, not the past.

2. Repeat this to yourself, “It is just the stuff I am letting go of…not the people of whom or the memory of which the stuff reminds me.”

3. Take baby steps. Start with the things that pull your heart-strings the least. E.g. The Christmas bowl your Aunt Sally gave you five years ago that you have never used but have been afraid to get rid of lest you upset your mom.

4. Tackle one drawer, one box, one closet, one room at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a task too large.

5. Set a max number ahead of time determining how many of various keepsakes you are going to save and stick to it no matter what. For example, I will keep no more than 5 papers, paintings, drawings, etc from each year of my child’s life.

6. Designate one box or set space that can be filled with sentimental paraphernalia for each family member.

7. If you are a numbers person, make up a “keep range” by setting numerical standards for what gets tossed and what gets to stay. 1-4 is toss. 5-7 is iffy. 8-10 is keep. As you go through keepsakes, give them a number. Stick to the range you set and toss it if it doesn’t measure up.

8. Allow yourself the time to walk down memory lane before you throw stuff out. Take the opportunity to laugh, cry or retell the great story surrounding the lime green bridesmaid dress or the plane ticket that makes you think of the crazy lady who sat next to you on the plane on the way to your honeymoon.

9. Take pictures of the items that might be special but need to be tossed. Store them digitally and get rid of the originals. Not only will they take up less space that way, but they will probably keep better.

10. If you can, take a picture of the item, the artwork, or whatever it is with the person who makes it special before giving it/throwing it away.

11. Let go of the guilt you might experience from getting rid of things that got passed down to you. If it is something you truly treasure, like a vase I received after my Granny passed away,—it used to be part of a matching set, but I actually broke the other one at her house when I was younger—display it proudly. But if it is something impractical that is hidden away and taking up valuable storage space, I fully believe your Grandma or your Mom would understand that you have no use for it. Give it away, and repeat this to yourself: “It is just the stuff I am letting go of…not the people of whom or the memory of which the stuff reminds me.”

12. Once you start, don’t put it off. Don’t prolong the agony. Touch everything only ONE time if you can and make a decision. Keep. Give away. Discard.

13. Ask for help from a friend or family member who can be more objective if you think it will be difficult.

14. If it is something special, but you know you can’t keep it, kiss it goodbye. Literally. Give it a kiss. Might sound crazy, but for some people it’s closure.

15. Once you have made the decision to give or throw away, do it as quickly as you can. Don’t let boxes or garbage bags full of sentimental items sit around.  Out of sight, out of mind.

16. I’ll end my list with one more thought:  If it has been packed away in a box for years—like all of my honeymoon paraphernalia—it’s not sentimental or serving a purpose anymore. It’s just stuff in a box. Hidden from the world in an attic or basement, it hasn’t helped me remember anything. So why not just get rid of it?

I hope this list has encouraged you or given you some inspiration to free yourself from the sentimental stuff taking up space in your home and your heart. I will be praying for you, co-keepers of “stuff”, and would appreciate your prayers for us as we face the DAUNTING task of going through all of our belongings. The give-away and discard pile have to be bigger than the keep pile for us, but I have a feeling in the end we’ll be that much healthier and happier for it!

Blessings to you on your journey to conquer your stuff! May it draw you ever closer to Christ as you are freed to take your eyes off yourself and focus more on Him. =)


One thought on “Practical Tips for Getting Rid of Sentimental “Stuff”

  1. sarah

    GREAT tips!! And that photo you took of your ‘dead flowers’ is beautiful! I have taken photos of my favorite items before and it really does the trick of preserving the memory. Thanks for sharing!


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