By Rita Wilkins
The Downsizing Designer

If you are trying to downsize or declutter your home, you might have difficulty with letting go of sentimental items.

You want to let go because you know you can’t keep everything, but it’s killing you to give up certain items.

  • You’re stuck.
  • You’re frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed.
  • You’re feeling guilty about letting it go.

On some level, you might even realize that holding on to these things is preventing you from moving on with your life. It’s holding you back, it’s an emotional roadblock.

Understanding that clutter of any kind, even sentimental clutter is simply deferring a decision to another time.

  • “I’ll get around it someday.”
  • “When x happens, I’ll get rid of it.”
  • “I will be ready to give to give it up someday.”

But if you are trying to downsize and declutter now, you are being forced to make decisions. You are now being faced with how to let go of those sentimental things that you have been holding on to perhaps for a very long time.

  • Your dad’s alarm clock
  • Your mother’s dishes
  • Your kid’s trophies
  • Family photos


Top 4 Reasons We Have Difficulty Letting Go

1. Sentimental Attachment

  • They are reminders of specific people, places, times, and events in our lives.
  • They bring back good or bad memories.

2. Security

  • They make us feel safe and secure. And since security is a basic human need, there’s no wonder that we hold on to certain things. Sometimes we hold on to them because they make us feel safe, secure, and remind us of a time in our lives where we were specially cared for and protected.

3. Scarcity

  • The fear of being without, not having enough can have us hold on to our things.
  • Feeling that you spent “good money “on something or that you worked hard to get it, we think we would be wasting it if we get rid of it.
  • Knowing our parents worked hard and saved money to buy a particular piece of furniture or set of silver or china, often prevents us from letting go.

4. Someday

  • We procrastinate from giving it away thinking we might need it someday.
  • We resist and put it off to a later time deferring the decision.


How to Get Past Reasons for Holding On

Steps that you can take now!

Look at one item you’re having a particularly hard time letting go of and ask yourself these questions.

  1. What good memories do you have of this item?

  2. What bad memories do you have about it?

  3. What emotions do they bring up?

  • Maybe feeling of sadness, anger, happiness, and upset?
  1. Acknowledge that this item is making you live in the past.

  • It’s making you look back and not forward. It’s making you hold on to those good or bad memories.
  1. If an item elicits bad memories…

  • Ask if you are ready and willing to let go of the bad memories, to put them in the past so you can move on. An example would be to burn a photo or a letter that brings back those bad memories. This is not only cathartic but is also liberating.
  1. If the item brings back good memories…

  • Take a photo of it, write a story about it, and let it go. Create a Shutterfly album of all the wonderful memories and stories. These are not only for yourself but for your future generations.


Other Ideas to Help You Let Go

  • If you have multiples of a collection, keep just one of them. Take pictures of the rest, let go of them, and put the photos in a Shutterfly album.
  • If you have family photos, sort through, digitize them. is a valuable service that helps you consolidate and commemorate these photos.
  • If you have kids’ trophies, school books, and other items that you have been holding on to for sentimental reasons, ask your kids if they really want to keep these? They might actually ask you why you are still holding onto their high school things when they are now adults.


Hopefully, you can even laugh at yourself for holding on to some of the things that you’ve kept for many years, the things you allowed to take up valuable space not only at your home but also in your mind and heart.

Now that you are downsizing and decluttering, you realize…

  • It’s time to stop resisting.
  • It’s time to make decisions.
  • It’s time to live with less so you can live more.

I hope that this blog article helps you let go of sentimental items that have taken up space in your home and in your heart, so you can make room for a new less cluttered life.

If you are interested in learning more, register for my “6-Week Decluttering Challenge”, click here, sign up on the website, it’s only $ 30.

I am here to help and I’d love to hear from you!

Comment in the comment section below.