Memories are great tools for remembering special moments in life. Memorabilia is one of the biggest things people collect because they are attached to a memory. It encompasses everything from pictures to trinkets from places visited to heirlooms from loved ones who have left us. There is certainly nothing wrong with having tangible things to help us remember those sweet memories. As a Professional Organizer, the problem comes when people end up stuck in the past. It prevents people from moving forward and living in the present. I am sharing with you 3 very common sentiments I hear when it comes to people having a hard time letting go of their treasures.
One of the common things I hear is that memorabilia is being saved for the children/grandchildren.
This is lovely in theory but in reality, it can be a real problem for accumulating clutter. The children/grandchildren put off picking up the “saved” items because they don’t have room for it. This causes it to take up space in the givers home. It is best to be direct and ask if the items saved are indeed wanted and if they are, give a deadline for pickup or mailing. By creating a deadline there is now a sense of urgency attached to the memorabilia. One must be prepared for the fact that these items you’ve been saving may not be wanted. Take a picture of the items and then find a way to get rid of them either by donation or trash. Sometimes it’s just easier if we know the items are going to a good home even if it isn’t a family member. It seems harsh but the memories for you are already there and if someone else isn’t sharing that same enthusiasm it would only be clutter to them. Letting go of that which you’ve been holding onto really opens up a part of you that you probably didn’t know felt trapped. Clutter can be a really big burden for people to carry around.
Hanging on to those precious treasures for the purpose of looking back on them is another common sentiment I hear.
I want you to think about the number of times you have actually visited the box, closet, attic or wherever you have stored your treasures. Turning your thinking toward the importance of keeping these to look back on. Ask yourself based on the current storage situation how likely are you to pull out these items for the walk down memory lane? If you can honestly say it is a very small number then it is beneficial at this point to take a picture and let go. One of the wonderful things with technology is that we can easily take a picture of something and we don’t even need to go to a store to pick up the picture. We can keep it on our phone, store it on an external hard drive or upload to a photo site and have it delivered to our mailbox. This really has made it easy to lighten the load of stored memories. Think about how easy it is to store a picture rather than a box of treasures or a piece of furniture. Pictures are very portable if you get to the point in needing to downsize.
Hanging onto treasures because they are worth money is one of the most commonly heard thoughts in my organizing business.
The value of your collectables is driven by the amount someone is willing to pay for them. I have seen many old pieces of furniture in mint condition be sold for a mere fraction of what they are valued to be worth. The reason is that there is simply little to no market for those type of things currently. This could change and it might not, so hanging onto these items is really like carrying around dead weight. What most of us think our things are worth is quite skewed by our own emotional attachment. There is no price tag on sentimentality. You can see this by going into the Thrift Stores, watching the FB garage sale or going into an antique store. Antique stores are becoming fewer and fewer as well. As someone waits to get rid of their personal things until they get their full value out of them, they may end up hanging on to them. This is really about not being ready to let go so the excuse is that it’s about getting full value. I would encourage you to go into the niche markets for your particular collectable and see what the prices look like to get a realistic idea of worth.
Memories and memorabilia are by design a way of remembering the past. The interesting part is that we are to live in the present and we know we can’t take our things with us when we go. This creates a conundrum that really causes people to delay decision making. The inability to make a decision based on the three common reasons I shared above lend itself to living in clutter. Clutter can hold you back from living a more present life focused on the future.