I like this particular question because it applies not only to physical items, but also to mental processes and tasks on your to-do list. Any of them will be perceived as important and/or personal, but which is it really? Let me show you an example of a task first as these are easier to distinguish:
Your to-do list has a point saying “pay bills”. Seems straight-forward, but hold on a second: is this important or personal? Of course, it’s important. If you neglect paying your bills, you’ll end up without an internet connection next week. Check.
If there is a point saying “meet cousin Theo”, things take a bit of a turn. It could be important (Theo has offered to fix your fence to keep next door’s sheep out of your rose garden), or it could be personal (you haven’t seen him and want to catch up). See: it often depends on context.
Those are still relatively simple examples, of course, but let’s look at physical objects. Let’s say you have a set of silver cutlery in your loft that you got for your wedding 35 years ago and have never used. It clearly has no practical value beyond maybe a financial one, but is that important enough to hold on? In terms of sentimental value, I daresay it’s limited: I’m pretty certain you have better ways to remember your wedding day than a gift cutlery set you have never used. Doesn’t sound very emotional to me either, so why not let it go?
Other physical items will be less clean-cut than the cutlery example, I’m sure. But the same considerations apply. Distinguishing between important and sentimental is a crucial step in letting go. You may hate your tax return, but it’s important. You may find that something you love the look of can turn out to be such a burden that it ultimately falls into the “not important” category.
I’m not saying that everything you own has to have a practical reason to stay, but considering the practicalities along with the sentimental reasons can be very useful to make clear decisions.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.