Sort the Past and Let Go
Updated: Oct 26, 2019
It is the season of fall that reminds me that change and letting go is a natural cycle. If we don’t let go of things, they weigh down on us and stop us from moving forward.
But letting go can be difficult when it comes to tidying our homes, and gets even tougher when tidying sentimental items. I must admit I had secretly stacked away some boxes of sentimental items when first claiming I had KonMari’d my home, simply because I didn't know if it was okay to let them go.
Most of us enjoy the feeling of relief and lightness when letting go of stuff. The KonMari Method™ speaks to so many of us because it focuses on creating a living environment filled with only those things we love. This inevitably means that we must let go of all things that we do not love (anymore) and that have served their purpose.
Do you keep the necklace your mother gave you, even though you don’t like it? Is it disrespectful to chuck gifts? What about the painting you inherited from your grandparents? It should stay in the family, right? The tablecloth your aunt gave you, but it doesn’t match your home decor. And what about those photo albums and letters that ended up on your attic?
Even though you honed your sensitivity of defining what sparks joy throughout the KonMari tidying process, you may feel some resistance when it comes to certain belongings like presents, sentimental items and mementos. Sometimes, instead of consciously making the choice to keep belongings or to let them go, we prefer to hide them somewhere in our home. I believe there are two important reasons for this; the feeling of guilt and the fear of loss of precious memories.
How can the KonMari Method™ help to let go?
Marie Kondo explains and clarifies why it is okay to let go. She says that tidying sentimental items means putting the past in order, so you can enjoy life now.
Ask yourself one key question when holding your belongings; Does it spark joy? There are only two choices: keep it, or let go. And if you decide to keep it, keep it with confidence and make sure to take care of it. Trust your intuition and you will be amazed by your capacity to choose what brings you happiness.
There are two lessons in Marie Kondo's book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ that were a great ‘aha’ moment for me, for many of my clients, and maybe for you too.
“The true purpose of a present is to be received, because gifts are a means for conveying someone’s feelings for you.”
Gifts are expressions of love and kindness. It is the moment of exchange that counts; giving and receiving. Do you feel guilty when a gift, picked out carefully and purchased specially for you, doesn’t spark joy? Do you struggle to give it a home in your home? Do you end up taking it out only when the giver comes to visit? And even though you tried, you have never used it with joy.
It’s okay… pass it along.
“The thought of disposing of mementos sparks the fear that we’ll lose those precious memories along with them. But you don’t need to worry. Truly precious memories will never vanish even if you discard the objects associated with them. No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now, are more important.”
We indeed often believe mementos of a loved one or sentimental items connect us to that person or special moment in life. But how much do we really honor and take care of those mementos when they are collecting dust, tucked away in drawers or stored, hidden and forgotten in cardboard boxes?
I like to keep one or two items that represents a collection of items. Make a beautiful memory box or a ‘celebrating life’ shelf for your treasures, so you can enjoy and cherish them whenever you want. Ask yourself 'will the future me need this to spark joy'. If so: keep it. If not: then it’s okay… let it go!
"Our things form a part of us, and when they're gone, they leave behind them eternal memories." - Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo emphasizes the importance of letting go respectfully, it gives closure to the relationship you had with that object. For a respectful send-off of sentimental items, like photos and letters, she recommends using salt (a Japanese purification ritual). You can place the photos or letters in an envelope, add some salt and express gratitude for what people and life experiences have taught you. This ritual is a beautifully humble and worthy way to let go.
When you decide that belongings no longer bring you joy and that they have served their purpose, say ‘thank you’ and let go in a kind, people- and environmentally friendly way.
So, that’s what I did. I finally took care of those last boxes; I sorted my past and choose joy towards the future. I let go and yes, it was okay!