teddy bearHow good are you at letting things go?  You’ve probably noticed quite a continuum between those who almost compulsively get rid of things and many who have trouble letting go.

I have a confession to make – one you may not expect to hear from an organizer. I have a tendency to want to keep things. It may be because I moved a lot growing up – ten schools in all, or cultural influences, perhaps my personality, I’m not sure why.  I sometimes have to have the conversations with myself that I have with my clients!

So, when does not letting go matter? Our ability to hang onto possessions is really limited by the space we have to store them and by the time and energy it takes to maintain them.  If your things are getting in the way of the life you desire to live, if you’re finding that you can’t use your space the way you would like to, then you will want to explore ways to help you let go.

In this article we’ll look at some reasons why we feel compelled to keep things. Often people keep items because of:

1. Sentimental Value

Objects engage our emotions through all our senses. They can bring back memories which we’re afraid will slip from mind if we don’t keep the trigger.  They may be things we put a lot of time and effort in and we want to honour that.  Or they may be things that belonged to a loved one that really remind us of them.

2. Potential Value

These are the items that we see future worth in. The “I could” factor comes into play. I could make a quilt with these scraps of fabric. I could take these postcards and tickets and make a scrapbook. My grandkids could play with these toys.

3. Current Value

Items that were expensive to purchase and that still have life in them are sometimes difficult to part with even if we are no longer using them.  This occurs regularly when people move from one place to another.  Furniture from one place may simply not fit in the next, but since it is valuable or seemingly expensive to replace, it stays.

4. Guilt Value

These are all the things that you are given that you feel compelled to keep. You may even feel you must display them so you don’t hurt someone else’s feelings when they drop by for a visit.

5. Identity Value

Items related to activities you used to do can bring back the past. If they take up too much space there is a danger that they will keep you from embracing who you are today and who you can be tomorrow.

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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