knowing when to let go of gifts and other sentimental objects

Countless times in cleaning, I come across dust-coated objects that are utterly useless to me but still decide to keep them, only because they were gifts. Is it ever appropriate to throw out a gift someone gave you?

If your goal is to enrich and evolve yourself, you’ll naturally shed what’s no longer useful. If you’ve lost the connections you once had with gifts from loved ones or objects that were sentimental, don’t feel guilty about it. It’s a sign of growth and that should be celebrated.

For me, the realization that it’s time to let go often comes like an epiphany, usually accompanied by tears. I cry because I’m mourning the girl that I am no longer and at the same time I’m making space for who I’m becoming.

For you, letting go might look different. Maybe the realization builds itself up little by little over months or years. Maybe you know you’re not strong enough to let go and enlist help from a friend who’s not attached. Maybe you won’t feel right until you run it by the gift giver: “Hey, remember that book you got me for my birthday in 05? Man I read that book a thousand times. It fed me for years. I’ve been thinking lately though, maybe someone else could benefit from it. How would you feel if I donated it or gave it to a friend?”

keep or discard?

If you’re not ready to let go, don’t.

If you aren’t sure, ask yourself:

  • Is the item useful to you?
  • If not, can it be of use to someone else?
  • Is the item’s sole purpose to represent a memory? If so, consider taking photos of it or writing down what you love and what you learned from the memory. Then, let it go. Give the item to someone who can use it or throw it away if it’s useless.
  • Is the object emotionally charged? Do you look at it and travel back in time, reactivating emotions you felt? Is this productive or destructive for you? Are you holding on to hurt by keeping this item around? If so, let it go. Let go of hurt. Make space for love.

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