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