Minimalism and Getting Rid of Sentimental Items

Last Updated on: September 20, 2023

Minimalism aims to allow us to live a more meaningful life by minimizing our possessions and sticking with the essentials.

It may be the hundreds of unused clothes in our drawers, dust-filled books on our shelves, and the sentimental items we store somewhere in the house.

However, we often prefer keeping things in our house because we like rationalizing that they are still usable, like how we store dozens of unused plates in a cabinet, just in case.

Or we think we will eventually use them and want to save the money we spend, like how we store a tower of unread books we bought a decade ago.

Another is we don’t like letting go of things because they are reminders and brings good memories, like the moth-eaten wedding dress your aunt may still be keeping in their dresser.

But among everything in our house, the things that are often the hardest to let go of are our sentimental items.

Old Phots In A Brown Box
Photo By Miray Bostancı On

What are Sentimental Items?

Sentimental items are possessions that remind us of our distant past, a person, or events. They may also bring back good (and even bad) memories.

Truth be told, we love holding on to our sentimental items like souvenirs, grown-up children’s stuff, photographs, postcards and letters, and many more.

We love holding on to sentimental items because they trigger memories and bring back emotions.

Doesn’t Minimalism Teach About Avoiding Unnecessary Items?

It’s important to note that minimalism does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. There is no hard rule before saying they are a minimalist or practicing minimalism.

But the essence of the movement is to avoid buying unnecessary items that don’t add value to our lives. In my opinion, minimalism is more related to essentialism.

While there are people who are “hardcore” minimalists, who condemn consumerism to its core, there are also those whose definition of minimalism is more mellow.

While I also agree that we should avoid unnecessary items that don’t have lasting value, on the other hand, I won’t categorize sentimental items as unnecessary.

How to Get Rid of Sentimental Items?

There are many ways of getting rid of sentimental items that don’t serve any purpose and can cause too much clutter and take on too much space. Here are some ways.

1. Start small.

When getting rid of sentimental items, you should not start with the toughest items, like photos, letters, and personal mementos, because they can trigger our memories, making it harder to let go.

Instead, we should start with small things less likely to hold emotions, like an old mug or cutleries.

2. Donate it.

Many people consider their sentimental items priceless, and selling is usually the last thing anyone will do.

However, if we reframe it to giving your item another chance through donation, then letting go may be easier.

We can also pass it down to someone we think will benefit. Just ensure you are not doing it just to offload your items to others.

3. Take a Picture and Store Digitally.

We don’t like throwing out sentimental items because they contain memories of the people we love or a common experience we share.

So, if you want to get rid of the old-school TV or stereo, taking space in your storage, it would be best to take a picture and store it digitally so you can always have something to return to.

4. Categorize and Prioritize.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know that many sentimental things we own don’t mean anything to us anymore. We just like keeping them for old times’ sake.

To minimize this, we can prioritize which items we’ll keep. For instance, if you rank your sentimental items and only keep 20 of them, which will you save?

Soon, you’ll realize that some of the things you keep no longer contain the memories they used to. It’s like my mother’s wedding souvenir collection. She keeps hundreds of them but can no longer remember which is which.

5. Just Let It Go and Throw Them Out

The hardest thing about getting rid of sentimental items is to throw them out. However, some of these items no longer have any value and may even cause negative emotions.

For instance, there’s no sense in holding on to the love letters your ex gave you if you’re already happily married or keeping boxes of your children’s old elementary and high school projects and exams.

However, if just thinking about throwing them out already doesn’t feel good, you can keep one of each. You don’t need to hold on to them all to keep the memories alive.

Maintain a Keepsake Box

It may sometimes not look like it, but I am sentimental. I even maintained a shoebox of my treasured memories since elementary school and have had a collection of my ID pictures since I was 11 until now.

My keepsake box contains a few Ragnarok load cards from my early years of gaming, some school IDs, letters from friends, stickers, and other hobbies I used to have.

Similarly, you can also maintain a keepsake box to preserve some sentimental items you want to save. Just ensure that you’ll always make it as your limit.

Whenever you feel like your keepsake box is filled, you must check the contents and subtract the things that no longer contain memories. It usually happens when you outgrow things, people, and memories.

Final Thought:

Minimalism and getting rid of items go hand-in-hand and will also require that you get rid of your sentimental items.

However, it’s important to remember that memories don’t live in the sentimental items you hold on to. They live within you.

Key Takeaways:

  • Sentimental items are difficult to get rid of because they usually contain memories.
  • Even if you’re practicing minimalism, you can still save a few important items.
  • You can get rid of sentimental items by starting small, donating them, taking pictures and saving them digitally, and keeping only the best of the best.

What’s Next?

If you want to start with your minimalism journey, here’s a challenge for you.

  • In the next 15 days, throw away one item that doesn’t add value to your life. 
    • It doesn’t matter how seemingly insignificant it is. The goal is to take back a part of your house from your possessions.

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