Thursday, 04 July 2019 07:09

Clutter Caused by Guilt & Nostalgia

In the course of my work I find many of my clients struggle with family heirlooms, old family photographs, unwanted gifts and nostalgia in general.
This article I wrote a few years ago could help you and your loved ones through the difficult decisions regarding letting go of family history and memorabilia.

Let go of clutter caused by guilt and nostalgia

Last week we helped a client clear out a room full of stuff, so that she could have a space for her painting and photography. She mentioned she had not been in the room for ages, and did not have a clue what was in the room.

We cleared the room, sorted everything into categories and then called our client to come and make decisions.

This is where it gets interesting! Most of what was there either belonged to other members of the family (grown up children, and parents who had died) or stuff from the children’s school years long past. Tons of stuff.

As she sorted I could see her struggling with letting go…  Toys belonging to the children, artwork from junior school, school books, clothes, their university stuff and more.  Gifts given to her, but no longer loved.  Inherited items she didn’t like but couldn’t let go.

Do you see the problem? Clutter caused by guilt and nostalgia! Something we come across regularly.

With some guidance, and gentle persuasion we managed to package up the children’s stuff into boxes for them to collect. We selected a few key inherited items and created a memory box. We donated ALL the gifts that were not loved. We scanned artwork, certificates, awards and other key milestones in the children’s lives, and created an electronic file that the whole family had access too. The end result - a clean, clear space ready for the painting and photography!

This is how I tackle clutter caused by guilt and nostalgia:

#You are not a storage facility for your adult children who have left home.

Give them an opportunity (with a deadline) to come and sort out their things, and take what they want to keep. Remind them that you will donate or toss everything once the deadline has passed. If they are serious about what is there, they will make a plan.

#Don’t get bogged down keeping all the school milestone projects.

Set a limit, and be reasonable in what you're saving. (And ask yourself, "Why am I doing this?")

#Don't hold on to everything you have inherited.

Let go of guilt. You can't keep everything, and definitely NOT things you don’t like. So find the five or six treasures in the stuff and let the rest go. The "stuff" is not your loved ones, or your memories of them.

#Don’t hold onto gifts you don’t like

Letting go of gifts you don’t like, do not change your relationship with the gift giver. In fact, donating the gift, so that someone else can enjoy it, is far better than hiding it in the back of a cupboard.

I hope you find this helpful, either for yourself or perhaps someone you know that is struggling with guilt and nostalgia

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