The great thing about organizing with clients is that I learned many things about human behavior. One particular action I come across often is the customer's bad memories. Many of these experiences come to the surface because of an object they encounter while purging clutter. This distraction usually stops them in their tracks, and they need to rehash the story to gain perspective to help them let the object and the memory go. No matter the situation regarding an object, the results come to pass the same way every time.
Most of the objects that I found that stop clients in their tracks are sentimental or experience-based. From journaling about previous situations to given objects from others, there are ways to let go of these objects that represent memories you do not want to rehash. Read on about the different types of objects and how to deal with those negative memories.
Ways to Change Your Bad Memories into Good Ones.
Below are ways to change your bad memories into good ones:
- For items in your home: While looking at the object, think of how you felt while the event happened. Did you feel sad? Were you crying? Did the situation physically or emotionally abuse you? Then, step back from the situation and recall what you learned from that experience. Are you in a better place because of the situation? Allow yourself to accept that the situation happened. Then, tell yourself; I will let this memory and the object go. Place it in the bin to donate.
- For Sad or Angry Letters: Try this if it is a letter. Read the letter. By avoiding it, you are giving it power. So, don't! Then, get a metal pot and light the letter on fire. Do this outside, of course. Watch it burn and turn into ash. Then take a deep breath and say, "It's done. I am moving on."
- For Journals: Many of my clients are lifelong learners and have taken many self-improvement classes. So, they had many journals and writings that detailed their learning process and letting go. Remember: You learned these lessons and do not need to revisit them, so it is time to let them go. An excellent way to get rid of journals is by ripping out the pages and shredding them. You can also burn the pages in a large metal pot. If you have many journals, contact a shredding company to come and shred the stuff for you. While getting rid of these journals, recall the positive experiences you learned about yourself in these classes.
Where to find items that stir up sad/bad memories?
Go through areas like your jewelry box and your memorabilia boxes. Clean out any objects that symbolize an upsetting or frustrating moment. And turn it into a good one. Take those objects and do something positive with them, like donate them to someone in need. Personally, I sold jewelry from my jewelry box and used the money to convert my grandmother's one-piece earring into a ring.
Where to donate objects that have bad memories?
Remember that we place our thoughts on these objects. The next person will not have the same experience as you did with the object. So, if you want to ensure this, try saying this object is clear of the emotions I have attached to it out loud. I am willing to let it go for the betterment of another person for their highest good. It may sound corny, but bringing awareness to the situation and not ignoring it will release you and clear the object simultaneously. Try it and see.
I hope this inspires you to eliminate items that stir up bad memories. It will help you make your home an oasis.
The challenge for this week:
Go through one area of your home and find two items representing sad or bad memories. Get rid of them. Comment below on what you got rid of and how you felt after it.
Feel free to visit these other articles I found on the topic.
Turning Bad Memories Into Good Ones, And Vice Versa?
SCIENTISTS TURN BAD MEMORIES INTO GOOD INSIDE THE BRAINS OF MICE
Looking for more advice about changing habits? Visit our posts on the topic here.
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Looking for items to take care of yourself after a sad day of purging your bad/sad memories? Check out these items from Amazon.
These are great tips, Sabrina! As an organizer, I declutter frequently, but I am sure there are some keepsakes I'm holding onto that have bad memories associated with them rather than good ones. It is time to dig into my keepsake box!
I think memories are what stop people from decluttering. Whether they are good or bad memories. As organizers, I believe we hold a place for our clients to remember their goals and to help them move forward.
Letting go of the objects and writings that make us sad or remind us of hurtful periods is not easy to do. Each time we come in contact with them, we can experience those wounds all over again. You have several unique suggestions for allowing things to move on. I particularly like your idea of releasing or clearing the object "from the emotions I've attached to it," by saying those words out loud before donating.
Good advice! This even applies to gifts people have given you, that you dislike. I like to tell my clients about the William Morris quote: "Have nothing in your home that you do not believe to be beautiful, or useful." If it makes you unhappy or you don't enjoy looking at it, let it go!
For a long time I kept my engagement ring and wedding ring from my first marriage. I was going to pawn them once but they offered me so little for them that I wouldn't accept it. Finally I realized they had no value to me, either emotional or financial, and I just donated them. No regrets!
Good for you, Janet. Thanks for sharing. =)
I'm not gonna lie, it felt pretty dang good to pawn my husband's wedding ring after the abandoned me. Plus selling his bike and fly fishing gear made me feel lots better too. I wish I could say I was joking, but I'm not. I also re-read all of our old letters before scanning them and getting rid of the paper copies.
I'm glad to hear that getting rid of his stuff made you feel better. It really does put us in a better place when we let go of these objects. I wish people would purge these items more often.
We are in the process of decluttering, simply because we are getting on in years and don't want to leave the children with things that have no meaning to them. But I do find that as I remove things my thoughts go back to the happy memories and I enjoy that. The bad memory items never did have a place here so that has never been a problem. Interesting view on organizing.
Great observation, Lenie! Thanks for sharing.
wow what an awesome post!
Very good advice and points.
Thank you Sabrina x
What a wonderful post and suggestions. If there is one thing which unites all of us, is that we all have bad memories. Thanks for sharing.
A few years ago, before I started dating my now husband, a guy really broke my heart. Well, I kept this stuffed animal he gave me (I know, so high school) and I really liked the little critter. Needless to say, I realized eventually he had to go. He kept reminding me of my broken heart. I took him to Goodwill and I hope he is making some child very happy.
This is excellent advice on dealing with objects associated with bad memories. I hadn't really considered the bad memory aspect of decluttering before. When I downsized last year, I didn't come across many objects associated with bad memories. I did find a few letters and notes that reminded me of tougher times in my life. I read them and then got rid of them.
The only things I can think of at home that might be associated with bad memories are things that I kept from my parents and that are somehow associated with them passing away. These things are also memories of them so I really don't want to get rid of them. But I loved the burning letter in a pot suggestion. Since nobody really writes letters by hand anymore I guess this excellent idea will become obsolete.
I especially like the suggestion for objects in your home. Thinking about what you learned may change them from sad to at least content. If not, get rid of them.
What a great perspective on getting organized Sabrina. I have never been one to collect stuff so I don't have much to clean out, however I am a huge fan of journals so that is an area where I can take advantage of your advice. Thanks!
So agree with getting rid of items that make us feel bad. I find this myself a lot, and I say "why are you keeping this if all it is doing is making you feel badly?" -- let it go!
Meredith @ The Palette Muse
These are good actionable tips! I'm a natural declutterer and love to be surrounded by only happy memories, but I too find this issue with my decorating clients (a lot of decorating involves decluttering too) so this will really help.
I love this! I am a great believer in dealing with those things in life that make you feel unhappy. I went away on a women's encounter and one of the activities we did was to write down issues we struggle with on a piece of paper and watch it burn on an open fire.
This is very good advice. I have never kept things in my home, within sight, that would ever evoke a sad memory. Why would anyone like to inflict that kind of pain on themselves on a daily basis? I'm with you...purge!
When I declutter I get rid of it all: good memories and bad ones. Clutter is clutter. I'm actually due a clutter clean. It's amazing how not maintaining a routine because of going on holiday, can slow down normalcy for me! Thanks for the reminder.