How To Be Freed of Sentimental Clutter

personal concierge servicesIt is important when trying to let go of sentimental clutter to not throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is a place in all our lives for being patient, forgiving and kind to other people. However, there is a tendency in modern culture to promote, through the use of music and drama, a shallow, self-centered sentimentalism. This kind of mindset tends to weaken one as an individual, and can lead to feelings of helplessness and even depression.

Sentimental clutter can take many forms. Here are some of the more common types:

  1. Physical – through photographs, love letters, personal belongings, etc
  2. Psychological – via painful memories, feelings of guilt, and fear of loss
  3. Digital – through online communications and social media

The above three forms of sentimental clutter can overlap as well, so that ornaments left by a loved one that has passed away can trigger intense emotions that are very difficult to deal with. If sentimental clutter rears its ugly head in times when we are feeling physically and emotionally drained, you can find yourself in a state of deep internal conflict.

A very common form of this type of sentimental clutter is if you still have strong feelings for an ex-partner, but you know in your mind that the relationship was damaging, and you are better off now that it is finished. You can exacerbate the problem by holding onto cards or gifts from your ex-partner, and by maintaining some form of digital communication, either by text messaging or Facebook interaction, etc.

From my own personal experience and seeing others deal effectively with sentimental clutter, I believe the first step is to take action, rather than change the way you feel. As long as you can actually do something physically, your emotions will eventually catch up. Attempting to initially get your thinking right and then do something about all the clutter generally doesn’t work. The internal conflict will paralyze any action you might take, so you just have to ignore what is going on inside your head to begin with.

Here are three suggestions to remove sentimental clutter:

1. Ritualize the Process

If you know a previous relationship was damaging and abusive, you could ceremonially destroy any physical items. In ancient times, people would make public declarations of their disassociation with certain practices, by physically destroying things. The Bible records a group of people in Ephesus who publicly burnt their witchcraft scrolls! Maybe you need to do the same with photographs, love letters, gifts etc. You could even enlist outside help to remove it.

2. Be Kind but Firm

We often hang onto things, especially physical things that loved ones have collected, and these can clutter up our surroundings. Obviously, you would not want to take such drastic action as described above, but you do need to be fair to yourself and make a decision whether to box up and store any clutter, or let it go either by selling it or giving it away. People often find this approach a good emotional release as it is a form of saying goodbye whilst maintaining respect.

3. Embrace Positive Change

Being overwhelmed by sentimental clutter is often an indication that you have reached a crossroads in your life. Overcoming the internal conflict and double-mindedness that many people experience can be a springboard into a new phase of personal development. Sentimental clutter, although experienced internally through the emotions, is a strong indicator that you have lost control in other areas of your life, such as work, finances and spiritual purpose. When the mist clears, change begins.

Good Neighbor Concierge  Personal Concierge Services

If you need help removing sentimental clutter from your life, Good Neighbor Concierge can help. Our personal concierge services range from help at home to shopping, travel services, party planning and more. To learn more or for a quote for services, contact Good Neighbor Concierge today at 617.209.9311.

Image credit:  Amy Burton