Let’s talk about those things we just can’t let go of. The things we hold onto despite knowing we can and should get rid of them usually fall into one of a few categories.
“But someone special gave that to me!”
We all have those things that were gifted to us by someone special that no longer serve a purpose. Nobody is suggesting we should get rid of precious heirlooms, but if items are taking up room in our homes without any useful purpose, we should consider why we are clinging so tightly to those particular objects. Our memories are in us, not in our things. We won’t forget grandpa if we let go of his old fishing pole that hasn’t seen any use in years. There are antique shops, thrift stores and consignment shops that would more than likely be happy to take some of those things off your hands, if there is nobody else you can pass them on to. Perhaps we can find a use for an heirloom object in a new or different way that does serve our needs.
More likely to cause angst are those holiday and birthday gifts that accumulate year after year. Even though you think she will, Aunt Mildred won’t notice that ugly sweater from Christmas a few years ago is no longer in the closet. If, however, she happens to, just remember: the people closest to us want us to be happy. If we explain that the item we received no longer serves us and we passed it on to someone who had more use for it, they should be happy for us because we did something that added to our happiness. It would be silly to be offended over such a thing.
“But that’s for a special occasion!”
Do you, like me, have things you only use on a special occasion? What are we waiting for?!?! I’ve recently started using the crystal water goblets we were gifted for our wedding on a somewhat more regular basis. There’s no reason to never use them! Use them or pass them on to someone who will!
“But that was expensive!”
Sometimes, our judgment is clouded by how much money something cost. It seems wasteful that this item that cost so much when it was purchased is useless! When my husband was single, he overpaid for the latest, large, flat-screen television. About 2 years ago, it stopped working and we found a very reasonably-priced second hand replacement. My husband wanted to attempt to repair the television, which I whole-heartedly supported and he made a few unsuccessful attempts. Remembering the astronomical amount he paid for it, he still could not let it go. That broken television stayed in our house for nearly a year after that, until he could finally let go.
Part of the reason I have found it so hard to get rid of my DVDs is because of the financial investment that was made, not only in the DVDs themselves, but the DVD holders I got from the Container Store recently to store them. Estimating how much I spent on all that stuff only now to just get rid of it really upsets me.
If these things are still truly valuable, and not simply junk that was once expensive, we should try to recoup some of the money and sell them. I have sold quite a few things on eBay in recent months and it’s really been a benefit financially—not to mention getting rid of some clutter at the same time!
“But my ideal self would use that!”
Many people have things that we aspire to use. Some of us own exercise equipment we rarely, if ever, use. Maybe you got in on the “juicing” trend and did it for a month but haven’t used that juicer since. Yes, it was expensive, and it totally seemed like something that would be used every day, but the reality is it isn’t being used and isn’t adding value. Don’t let it take up room anymore.
I own quite a bit of makeup, but rarely wear much. I have definitely pared it down, but could stand to get rid of some more. I also have lots of hair clips and stuff I hardly ever wear that should go. My ideal self would wear makeup daily and look gorgeous with a cute, but low maintenance clipped-back hairstyle. That’s not the reality. My hair and face are usually just wash, moisturize, and go! I don’t need the fancy hairclips and excessive amounts of makeup.
“But I’ve had that for a long time!”
This is not to say I’m perfect at this minimalism thing, because I’m not. I kept toys my grandma knit for me for a very long time, despite having no use for them—I’m too old for toys and won’t be having any children to pass them on to. I don’t need to keep everything my grandmother ever knit for me to love her and keep her in my heart. I didn’t keep the toys, but I have kept a tea pot cover my grandma knit me, which I actually get some use out of.
For the longest time I couldn’t get rid of a small “tooth pillow” I sewed in kindergarten. This “tooth pillow” was two cheap pieces of felt sewn together that had a pocket on the front shaped like a tooth that went under my regular pillow (or next to it, for easy tooth fairy access) when I lost a tooth as a child. The tooth would be wrapped in a tissue and go in the pocket, to be replaced by money. I have absolutely no use for it and haven’t in years. I finally threw it away recently.
The old, smelly teddy bear from childhood that sits in a box in your attic. The baby blanket and clothes from the last baby when it’s certain there won’t be another. My old tooth pillow. It’s obvious these things are just taking up space for no reason, yet we still can’t get rid of them. We’ve endowed them with meaning they do not actually have. It might make it easier to get rid of sentimental items if you can pass it on to someone you know will get use out of it or sell it to use the money for something you will get use out of–perhaps a memorable experience.