Do Yourself a Favor and Just Say NO to Negative Emotional Clutter

The following is a guest post about saying no to negative emotional clutter from regular contributor, Kristin at The Gold Project.

Do Yourself a Favor and Just Say NO to Negative Emotional Clutter at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

I have spent many years and countless hours worrying about other people’s “important keepsakes.” Those items that were passed down to me or gifted to me that served zero purpose in my life. It got to a point where my attic was overflowing with items that I didn’t like, but felt obligated to keep. Several times, we even had to hide donation piles in our garage from relatives in fear of their disapproval. Arguments have been created over these piles of donations.

Can anyone else relate? Holding onto clutter just to save other people’s feelings. I call it emotional clutter because it serves zero purpose in my life and I am not emotionally attached to any of it in a positive way.

I have even been told that I am not a sentimental person because I do not keep everything that is passed down to me. This offended me at first, but after some thought, I realized that their definition of the term and mine were totally different. I keep things like printed digital photo books, certain artwork and school projects of my kids’, and Christmas ornaments that I purchased for specific reasons. I do not get attached to a cup that my great grandmother sipped tea out of before I was even born.

Do Yourself a Favor and Just Say NO to Negative Emotional Clutter

An emotional connection that my mom has with certain items will probably not mean anything to me. I was not there when my great grandmother sipped tea out of that cup, so it holds zero sentimental value to me.

I know this is a very touchy subject and one that has caused several family arguments in my own family. But, I stand my ground on the topic.

At the beginning of 2019, I decided enough was enough. If something does not add value to my home, then it is getting sold or donated. Just because someone gives me something does not mean I have to keep it. If that family member, friend, etc. wanted those items so bad, then they should have kept them.

After some thought, I realized that those people probably didn’t want those items either, but their guilt made them give them to me. If they made it appear that I was receiving a valuable item, then they wouldn’t have to keep it in their home and I would feel obligated to keep it.

Not anymore. I now live by the motto:

Say No to Negative Emotional Clutter!

Negative emotional clutter is something that doesn’t make you happy when you look at it or use it. Now, I am not talking about things like toilet paper or paper towels. Those are household products that we all have to use in everyday life. I am talking about those things that make you feel like you can’t breath, or things that remind you of a bad time in your life, or things that just affect you negatively.

Remember, it is not your responsibility to hold onto someone else’s negative emotional clutter!

Now, I am going to share two different stories with you.

#1 – I bought a gift to reward myself for a bad situation.

Back in 2017, my stepdad died from cirrhosis of the liver. Let’s just say it was not a good situation. We are still dealing with the family arguing and court case that resulted from money being mishandled and information not being shared.

The situation gave me so much stress that I decided to reward myself with a new tote.

Do Yourself a Favor and Just Say NO to Negative Emotional Clutter

Now, I still love this tote. I wanted it so bad and it made me happy when I received it in the mail. Then, I realized that every time I went to use the tote that it reminded me of the horrible family situation that caused the purchase. It was even to the point where I wouldn’t even use it because of the connection.

So, as much as I loved that tote, I sold it.

I don’t regret the purchase because it taught me a valuable lesson. Do not purchase yourself rewards for bad situations because it is only going to dig up those bad times again. I felt like I was reliving that time over and over again.

When the tote sold and I placed it in the mail, it was like a huge brick was lifted off of my chest.

#2 – I was keeping an estranged family member’s old furniture.

I had this one dresser that traveled to many different houses with me that was previously owned by my father. My father and I do not have a good relationship and we do not communicate. I used this dresser in my living room, bedroom, kitchen, etc. Every time I looked at it, I thought about the bad relationship I had with my father. I could not walk passed it and not think about, “that is my father’s dresser.”

Do Yourself a Favor and Just Say NO to Negative Emotional Clutter

I kept telling myself that I was eventually going to get rid of it, but I currently needed it. This summer, I finally told myself enough with the excuses. The dresser was leaving my house.

I was using it as a media center in my living room.

I told myself that I didn’t care if the television had to sit on the floor. The dresser was leaving my house.

We sold the dresser and now our television is sitting on the coffee table. No, it isn’t the ideal situation. But, once again, I was able to lift that huge brick off of my chest when the new owners picked it up. That imaginary brick that I didn’t even realize existed until it was gone.

So, what is the point of my post?

This topic is one that I feel isn’t talked about very often with organizing. You can be organized and still have clutter. Your clutter just might be organized, if that makes sense.

The goal of this post is to spread knowledge of the topic. I strongly feel that just because something was special to someone else doesn’t mean it is special to you. Give yourself permission to let go of the guilt and the items. If you do not need them, want them, and even like them, let them go.

I hope with this post, I am able to help at least one person with this subject. Feel free to share your thoughts on negative emotional clutter.

My name is Kristin and I am a middle school career education teacher by day and a mommy/wife/blogger by night. I am married to my high school sweetheart and we have two loving children. We recently made a life-changing move to Arkansas, so our new house is always under construction. I get excitement out of finding new creative, functional, and cute ways to organize things! I also enjoy writing and documenting life as it happens. So, I put these loves together and created The Gold Project. With the help of my husband, I am attempting to turn our house into a home. So, check out this special place of mine and take this journey with me!

Filed under: Guest Bloggers, Keepsakes, Kristin, Motivation-Encouragement


8 Responses to Do Yourself a Favor and Just Say NO to Negative Emotional Clutter

  1. 1
    MelanieL says

    Thank you for this! I’m similar in your sentiments about things. It is hard to clean items out but it does feel good to not carry the weight of others when we decide to let it go.

  2. 2
    Claire says

    Unfortunately, being a history buff and a sentimental person, it’s hard for me to let go of items such as the dishes that my great-grandmother used. Not that there’s anything wrong with keeping some of these items, but I can’t keep them all, and it’s hard to know which ones to get rid of. Sometimes the choice is made for me. (When my mother downsized, for example, there was no way I could take the dresser my grandmother used as a child, because I had no room for it. But to this day I still miss that item.)

    • 2.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      It’s definitely hard to make decisions on what to keep when you have limited space and there isn’t any negativity attached to the item. Taking a picture of the item helps to remember that item and the memory attached to it should you choose to let go of it.

  3. 3
    Susan Barone says

    “If that family member, friend, etc. wanted those items so bad, then they should have kept them.”

    Yes! I agree. I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to get rid of things people were getting rid of because I don’t want to live like a hoarder. Our house is only 1095 sq. ft. Years ago when my grandma moved to assisted living, she asked me if I wanted her 1952 Janssen piano. I did. I really thought I would re-learn how to play the piano. She had played it everyday. I wanted her to have peace of mind. She paid for it to be transported from North Canton to Dayton, Ohio. After she died in 2009, I would look at her piano and it would remind me of her playing. I had picture frames and trinkets sitting on the top. Since I didn’t play though, I realized the piano was more furniture than instrument. It was her playing, her musical choices, and not the piano that held my attachment. I decided to post photos and tell people it was free, but they would need to pay for moving costs. (Special movers are necessary to transport a piano.) No one said anything until I paid to have the piano moved to St. Francis Thrift Store. (Figures. I told them where they could get the piano. lol) Before it left me, I wrote a verse, Zeph. 3:17, in pencil and my grandmother’s name as previous owner on the wood underneath the piano’s keyboard where there’s no stain. I took several pictures and made a collage with a picture of my grandma playing to remember. It felt good to release the piano, knowing someone else who played would enjoy it.

    • 3.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      What a great way to honor her memory without it taking up a lot of space. Way to go!!

  4. 4
    Katherine Lovejoy says

    After our family had a huge falling out, over my older sister getting my parents to change their will and basically kicked me out of the family at 55 yrs old. I sold everything that reminded me of them or anything my parents might have given me. Then I went through our photo albums took out every one of their pictures and put them through the shredder, Their wedding pictures and all. The pictures i wanted to keep i that they were in, I took the white-out to and i have not regretted any of this since I did it. made me feel much happier and better . No regrets here at all.

    • 4.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      So glad you were able to do what works best for you!!


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