Letting go of things with sentimental value

Letting go of things with sentimental value

Everything has a story.

Sentimental items bring emotion and/or a story of something that happened to you or a loved one in the past.

There may come a time when you need to let some of these items go because they’re taking up too much room.

We must note the endowment effect. This theory says people are more likely to retain an object they own than acquire that same object when they do not own it. Meaning, owning an object brings a stronger phycological bond the item. You’re more likely to keep the item because you own it.

Also, note loss aversion. People’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains: it is better to not lose $5 than to find $5. Meaning, people would rather avoid a bad thing than receiving a good thing at the same value.

So, we see that letting things go can be very, very hard. Pictures, notes, gifts, mementos, souvenirs, and clothing are things that could be sentimental for some people.

When it comes time downsize or declutter, going through a memory box or unloading a packed closet can be one of the hardest things for someone with lots of memories. Here are some tips to help you as you let go of your sentimental items:

Do the easy things first

The easiest things to let go of are documents or bills. If they’ve been paid and you have one to reference, there’s no need to hold the others. Shred those bills, documents, and other personal papers you no longer need.

Another thing to let go of is pictures of people you no longer speak to. Notes from people you no longer talk with are good things to let go as well.

Be thankful, and move on


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Some memories you can’t but smile about. Those may be worth keeping. Other memories may need to be let go.

Sentimental items are nothing more than reminders of the memories you already have in your brain.

Be thankful for those happy moments. The item has served its purpose in its time. Verbally thank the item for playing a part in your life and let it go. After being thankful, move on

It costs to hold things

Holding memories — tangibles or emotions — costs something. Here’s what it costs you:

  • Money. Extra storage in your home or a storage unit costs more money.
  • Emotion. Too many things piled high can cause unnecessary stress.
  • Energy. If you’ve gone through your sentimental items before, you’ll have to do it again.
  • Time. It takes time to go through items multiple times. Try to do it all in one sitting.

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Put in one place

Store items in one place to minimize space. Designate a box or bin to hold current and future items. It’s better to have one larger bin than two smaller ones.

Take pictures of cards and other things

If you absolutely cannot let go of cards or pictures, upload them to a cloud. Snap a picture of them and upload to a folder. Never be without it!

RELATED: The Ultimate Guide For Storing Photos Digitally Or In Print

Gifts shouldn’t be a burden

Items given to you for a wedding, a holiday, or as gifts shouldn’t sit in a closet waiting to be used “at a later time.” Let’s face it, you may never use it.

If it’s useful, just not to you, then consider letting someone else have it. A family member or a friend may enjoy using it. If neither one wants it, give it away.

Don’t be stuck in the past

Items that bring memories of the past are just that — the past. Emotions could be good or bad, but either way, it happened in the past.

Be someone who looks into the future and consider how your sentimental items will bring you joy later.

If it doesn’t bring good emotion, let it go

Sentimental items have one purpose, to bring good emotional feelings. Storing cards, photos, or objects that bring sentimental value is a good thing! But stuff that doesn’t do this, then consider letting it go.

On a further note, clutter can bring stress, which is a strong hinderer to good emotions.

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Questions to ask yourself if you’re keeping for sentimental reasons:

  • Can you list your most sentimental items without looking at them?

Try it. Make a list of the things that bring you the most happiness without looking at the actual items. You will quickly realize you’ve forget many of them.

Granted, there are some notes or pictures you’ve forgotten about, but for the most part, all the sentimental items may not be worth keeping.

  • Why are you keeping it?

This will bring lots of clarity to your situation. If you cannot answer the question clearly, then consider letting it go.

  • What has the MOST sentimental value?

Designate what item has the most sentimental value then compare your other things against that one. The other things you consider should bring nearly as much joy and happiness as the first item you chose.

  • Does it bring happiness or other good emotions?

All sentiment items should! If it doesn’t bring happiness or you don’t care to look at it again, let it go.

  • How do you want to live your life?

Clarify to yourself how you want to love your life. Do you want to live simply? Do you want to be free from having many things?

  • Will stuff hold you back from that kind of life?

Strongly consider if your sentimental things are holding you back from living the kind of life you want to live.

All things put in storage should have value


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It costs money — not to mention time and energy — to rent a storage unit. Strongly consider all items put in the unit to justify the cost. If you’re storing for sentimental reasons, consider consolidating to one box or container and store in your home.

RELATED: People Use Self-Storage For These 9 Reasons — Do You Need Storage?

Contact Moishe’s Self Storage if you’re looking for cheap storage units in New York City to hold wine, art, or other things. Our Manhattan/The Bronx and Queens/Brooklyn Storage Facilities are conveniently located near you. We offer over 20 different storage unit sizes, available to individuals, students, and businesses. Reserve your room, view specials, or contact us.


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