"It was a gift! I feel like I can't just donate it or throw it out!" I hear this so often, I have a rebuttal ready before they even finish their sentence. "It was my grandmother's, I can't just give away her tea set, even if I don't use it!" I am ready to respond. "I feel bad just throwing away this food storage set, even though none of the lids close any more." I'm biting my tongue to let them finish, before I burst out with the following...
"A gift from someone you care about is not that person. Your memory of them may be tied up in the item itself, but that person is not that memory. Just because your grandpa gave you a "priceless" accordion before he died, does not mean that if you give it away to someone who actually will play it...that the memory of your grandpa is gone."
Do you need permission to get rid of something you're hanging onto "just in case"? Here, I'm giving you permission. It's free and it's yours. Use this permission as much as you need to, until you've released everything that doesn't fit into your life. (Can also be used on toxic relationships, FYI.)
Do you need some justification? Sure, we can do that. Answer these questions:
-When was the last time you used it?
(1 week? 1 month? 6 months? 1 year? 3 years? 5 years?)
-When will you use it again?
-Does it make you happy? (using your uncle's favorite mug every day, definitely happy-inducing.)
-If it doesn't make you happy, does it serve a practical purpose? (Your hammer may not make you happy, but it's practical to have one.)
-Do you have a lot of the items somewhere else, but keep losing them and so you buy more? (This can also fall under the "just in case" category)
-Are you keeping it just because it was a gift and you think the gift-giver will be upset if you gave it away? (Release yourself of that guilt. You don't owe other people the luxury of keeping something you never asked for.)
Memories last forever. Things do not. They break or get lost or become obsolete. Cling to the memories of those you care about and release that which doesn't make you happy, or something practical. We need to shift your mindset from "this item is this person" to "this item represents this person". Keeping things given to us from others is quickly filling up our attics, basements, and garages...which spills over into the rest of our house and eventually into storage units.
We don't need the majority of the stuff we have crowding our homes. The more stuff you own, owns you. The more you give to those who need it, the more freedom you'll feel. It's less stuff to move, to maintain, to clean. You'll be more thankful for what you do have, when you clear the clutter. You don't need to feel guilty any more.