With Valentine’s coming up, it’s hard not to notice how practically everything is geared towards couples. This is fine if you’re one half of a happy couple, but meanwhile, there are people dealing with break-ups, separations, divorce or even the death of a spouse. So while others are out in the cold, shopping for Valentine’s gifts, brutal winter weather presents an ideal time to stay inside and focus on getting rid of emotionally painful signs, remnants and reminders of the past, including past relationships.
There’s not denying that the end of any relationship, including longtime friendships, can be extremely hard. Sometimes it takes more than a new hair cut to move on. And the last thing you should do is resort to a dose of retail therapy if you already have too much stuff. Unfortunately, your past can literally hold you back from moving on and finding joy. Even if you can’t make peace with aspects of your past, you can at least get rid of unnecessary or constant reminders. Spend time this Valentine's Day to focus on YOUR happiness.
For instance, a close friend of mine just spent the last year eliminating anything that reminded her of her ex, including gifts he’d given her. As well, she committed to getting all the work done in and around her house that he’d promised her he’d do, but of course, never did. Not only did she make a fair bit of money selling things that reminded her of him, she also donated clothing he left behind to a local men’s shelter and got long-overdue repairs fixed (doing many of the repairs herself with the aid of YouTube videos!). I visited recently and I’ve never seen her so happy!
I often ponder the irony of the word “mental” at the end of the word sentimental. Too often, being sentimental – or emotionally attached – to physical objects can eventually affect your mental health. As stuff and things begin to accumulate and take over your living space, stress and anxiety can increase, which can also lead to depression and even hoarding behaviour.
As a Professional Organizer specializing in decluttering, I can help you let go of attachments to stuff and get rid of anything, recent or ancient history, that’s holding you back from moving forward, turning your home full of clutter into a life full of joy. If you’re saving stacks of shoeboxes full of love letters and greeting cards, you’re not alone. But you don’t need to keep every one you’ve ever received. To cut down, I recommend these easy tips:
- Limit yourself to one “Memory Box” for old love letters, Valentine gifts, greeting cards, etc. Keep it on the floor of your closet or in the basement. Once the box is full, if you want to add anything new, you have to get rid of other items in the box to make room. Also, once you realize how seldom – if at all – you open the box up to look through things, you’ll be able to let go of even more, tossing them out for garbage or recycling.
- Hanging on to mushy post-fight apology letters from someone no longer in your life? Whether they’re on paper or emails, get rid of them all. They have negativity in them that can affect your present life. Delete or toss!
- When faced with years of commercial greeting cards, keep only the first and/or last one the person sent, along with a few extra-special ones. This applies not only to past relationships, but also to cards from your immediate family, including the dog. I consider greeting cards to be "temporary paper". Enjoy them for a short time and then move on.
- Handwritten letters from loved ones can be heart-warming to re-read, but unfortunately, ink fades with time. Scanning allows you to save as many letters as you want, saving them digitally on your computer and/or a memory stick. Once scanned, you no longer need the originals.
Get Rid of Painful Reminders
Memories can be very powerful, especially when they are reminders of unpleasant experiences and unhealthy relationships. So without stopping to hesitate, eliminate any emotional triggers from your home. And don’t just put them down in the basement, thinking “out of sight, out of mind” – get them out of your house for good.
For example, if a vase reminds you of flowers an abusive ex-boyfriend used to give you, that vase needs to go! Pack it and all other “negative” and “bad vibe” reminders in a box for donating to a women’s shelter or other worthy cause. Let things that remind you of miserable times bring joy for someone else.
I once had a client in need of help moving on from a complicated long-term relationship. After much discussion, one of the things we realized that needed to be done was removing anything orange from in her home. Why? Her ex was Dutch and orange is the official colour of all the Netherlands sports teams. He wore orange quite often, especially while watching the Olympics and FIFA soccer games. So we got rid of everything from orange nail polish and t-shirts to patio décor and, yes, even books with orange spines on her bookcase. By the time we were done, she was truly beaming with delight, putting an end to one chapter in her life and excited for the fresh start I’d helped her launch.
Choose Memories Over Mementoes
Conversely, if you associate something with fond, joy-filled memories but are challenged for storage space, consider whether you truly need to keep it to maintain the memory. Is it the stuffed panda from the CNE that means a lot to you? Or is it the wonderful memory of how many times your late husband kept playing a carnival game, determined to win it for you?
The Gift of the Present
Feeling overwhelmed by a lifetime of accumulations filling your home? Ready for make a change and feel recharged? Dealing with grief, but can’t let go of a loved ones things? Ready to downsize, but can’t let go of things you won’t have room to take with you? Please give me a call at 416-892-5919 because an easy way make room for happiness is to make room in your home. So, instead of being sad or depressing, this Valentine's Day can be the start of something beautiful.