woman holding picture-emotional attachment when decluttering

8 Ways to Deal with Emotional Attachment When Decluttering

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So let’s face it, decluttering is exhausting, not only physically but emotionally as well, especially when we have to declutter things that we have an emotional attachment to.

When I downsized 6 years ago it was because I was leaving my country and only bringing two suitcases with me. 53 years of my life was not going to fit so I had to get rid of basically 95% of my life.

7 Unique Ways to Express Sympathy
7 Unique Ways to Express Sympathy

Was it hard? Oh hell ya. Especially all the things I had an emotional attachment to. But I did it and to be honest, I don’t miss a single thing I got rid of.

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Is Emotional Attachment Bad?

Well, yes and no. I’m no expert or psychologist but if your attachment to a thing or person is consuming your life then I’m gonna guess that’s a bad thing.

I also think (remember these are my opinions only) an emotional attachment is bad if you can’t or won’t let go and move forward in life. Like you’re still hanging on to the past and won’t let go. I think that’s bad and you should probably seek professional counseling or talk to someone who can help you.

What is Unhealthy Emotional Attachment?

As mentioned above, unhealthy emotional attachment is when you are completely obsessive over an item or things and can’t seem to let go and move on. You’re pretty much stuck in the past.

You could be holding on to an item from a deceased loved one or a past relationship. Whatever the case may be, if you are hanging on too tightly and not willing or ready to let go, you could have an unhealthy attachment but I think it would all depend on how long you’ve been hanging on for.

If it’s been years and years, well, ya, that’s kinda unhealthy. Grief counseling may be needed and please understand there is absolutely no shame in seeking professional help. AT ALL!! Do it for you!

I’ve recently partnered up with online-therapy.com and the people there are truly amazing and caring. If you feel you need to speak to someone please click here now or the image below.

two women talking in therapy-how to deal with emotional attachment

How to Break Emotional Attachment to Your Things

I’m going to break this down into 8 small and simple steps because I know how hard it’s going to be to declutter these sentimental items. Trust me, I know.

Not to mention it’s stressful af!

When I had to go through all my things, the sentimental items that were the hardest to declutter were all the cute little school things from my son. He’s my only child so these things were like gold to me. He’s also now in his 30’s so he’s not a baby anymore.

But still, you get it.

So let’s move on to some ways on how to break emotional attachment to our things while we’re trying to declutter. Now you may be decluttering because you want to become a minimalist or you simply may just realize you have too.much.stuff!!

Either way, I’m gonna share some ways to detach and get rid of sentimental clutter.

8 Ways to Deal With Emotional Attachment to Things

Before we get into this, you may like this eBook I wrote as part of my mini self help eBook series You Are Amazing. Though it does deal with emotional attachment with a partner, all the rules still apply. Check it out and see if it’s right for you. It’s a super powerful eBook.

How to Cut Cords of Attachment

1 Learning to Let Go

This is hard, I get it. I’ve held onto things way longer than I should have. Do I miss them now that they’re gone? Nope. I’ve learned that when I let go of things from the past, it’s easier for me to move forward in life.

Not only that, it opens doors and makes space in my life for new things/adventures/people to show up for me.

2 Don’t Rush Into Things

Take your time going through your sentimental things and hold onto the memories that came with it. There’s no need to rush or act in haste. You definitely don’t want to regret the tossing of some items because you didn’t ‘say goodbye’ to them properly.

Feel the feelings. Hold it close to your heart if you will. Look back on the time you got this thing. Embrace all your emotions.

And then be ready to let go of it.

How to deal with emotional attachment when decluttering

3 It’s All in Your Heart and Mind

I can remember when Julian brought me home his first little Christmas ornaments he made in school. I’ll never forget those little things. I’ll never forget all the things he made me in school but they are all in my heart.

All these memories will live forever in your heart and you absolutely can’t replace those feelings. You can remember the day, the weather, the smiles and tears. They are all in your heart and mind.

4 Replacing Grief With Relief

I hope that doesn’t sound coldhearted but you know you’ve been grieving long enough and I know everyone grieves differently but there comes a time you have to not let it consume you.

You can’t stay in grief forever and I’ll guess some of the things you are holding onto are bringing you grief. It’s time to let them go and replace that grief with relief.

5 Take Pictures of Things

Sorry if that kinda sounds like a no brainer but I honestly never even thought of doing that until someone mentioned it to me. Oh snap! Hell ya I’ll take pics.

And I did. And the best part of that is you can upload them to your computer/iPad/phone or whatever and look at them whenever you please!

How to deal with emotional attachment when decluttering

6 Don’t Toss it All!!

Just because you are decluttering doesn’t mean you have to part with all of it. No no no. Even I hung on to some things from Julian and brought them down to Guatemala with me.

You have to discern what you really really really want and have to keep and what you know you can certainly live without and is time to part with. Be honest with yourself here or you’ll keep everything!

7 Call a Friend

No one said you have to do this alone. Get a bottle of wine or put the coffee on and call your bestie to come over and help you. I’m sure she’ll be more than happy to do this with you.

This way, you can both reminisce and laugh and cry together. It will be a special moment you won’t forget.

How to deal with emotional attachment when decluttering

8 Talk to Yourself

You can very well end up talking yourself out of doing this so you need to keep reminding yourself WHY you’re doing this. Remember you are doing this because you have to.

You know it’s time to get rid of all the things that are weighing you down so you can live freer and happier. You know this. Keep telling yourself this while you are decluttering your sentimental items.

Emotional Attachment to Things From Deceased Loved Ones

The only deceased people in my life who meant a little to me were my parents. When it was time to go through their things to see who wanted what, I wanted nothing but a ring my mom had and because she suffered with Alzheimers, we believe the ring got lost in one of her mindless wandering shuffles.

Anyway the reason why I’m telling you that is because I honestly have no experience in dealing with this, especially if your deceased loved one is a spouse or child.

I found this really great article from refinery29.com. It helps you deal with a deceased loved one’s belongings.

How to Deal With a Dead Loved One’s Belongings

You may also really like this video I found for you on YouTube about decluttering sentimental items.

Decluttering sentimal items will be hard

Let’s not kid ourselves here. It’s gonna be tough. I’m sorry.

You may need copious amounts of wine or boxes of Kleenex. You may need emotional support from friends or family. Just remember that all those icky emotions will pass.

Remember why you’re doing this. Remember you need to do this for peace of mind and to help you move on. Letting go and moving on is all part of the healing process and you owe it to yourself to heal.

I hope you found this article helpful!

mad love

xo iva xo

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  1. Great post! I have shared this on my twitter acount. Actually I’m inspired & impressed by your writing skills & precious thoughts. Have good luck forever.

    1. Hey thanx so much for your kind words!! Good luck forever to you too! xoxo

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