Enough’s enough. All the signs are telling you that you NEED to declutter and you’d love to make a start. The problem is, it’s not all ‘clutter’. Yours is a mixture of things that you don’t need and things that you do. In amongst it are a great many treasures and the only person who knows which of them are truly important to you is YOU.
People often fear that ‘decluttering’ will mean getting rid of stuff that they love. They know they have permission to hold on to obvious heirlooms like family jewellery, however mostly it’s the other things – the belongings with no obvious financial value but huge sentimental importance – that they feel under pressure to let go.
When you are looking at your belongings, think about the story. Decluttering should allow you to hold onto your true treasures that evoke positive and meaningful memories and, by shedding all the excess, let them really shine.
What looks like ‘clutter’ or ‘junk’ to one person, might hold extraordinary meaning to you. The challenge often comes in recognising which the true treasures are and this is a very personal decision. Some of your treasures are unequivocal but others are less clear. A big part of my role is to help people make these decisions.
Imagine you are an archaeologist and are carefully dusting off the excess layers of your belongings to reveal the life beneath… open that box, look inside that chest of drawers…
Maybe that chipped old mug is your single most powerful reminder of a grandparent’s entire home. Perhaps the joker-less worn out old pack of cards was a long-standing childhood joke which still makes you laugh spontaneously. Or when you hold that hand-knitted blue baby cardigan, you instantly recall how your now musty, unwashed 19 year-old son felt and smelt as a baby.
Seemingly valueless objects become priceless and unique to YOU.
And then there is the myriad of your children’s colouring-in prizes, poetry debuts, attendance awards, musical examination reports and sports medals for “I successfully competed in the 3-legged race!” Language course certificates, fun run medallions, souvenir fridge magnets, hotel stationery… Do these things hold the same power to evoke or can you let them go?
Which are the true treasures?
When my own mother died, I selected items to keep that I thought were important. Over the years that equation of ‘thing = memory’ therefore ‘no-thing = no-memory’ weakened. Years later, I now have faith that I won’t lose the memory of her if I donate her bedside table to charity. I stopped sleeping with her pale blue pashmina under my pillow. Yes, I still thank her most mornings for being such a wonderful mother, rub the little pink shell she sent me and feel strong and happy. It is not about the stuff. It is the memories that are important.
What are your #TreasuredTreasures and what makes them special and important to you? We’d love you to share them with us. See https://www.facebook.com/right.size/ or @RightsizeHQ on Twitter.
For guidance on dealing with your treasures, go to Part 2