Decluttering Emotional Items?

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Post by Nagerusu »

I've been decluttering since 2008, when we moved and the room I live in got 2 times smaller. I'm not where I want to be, because I'm becoming more and more minimalistic and I'm going pretty extreme.

But there is an item I can't get rid of, even though I want to.

It's a box with letters from a girl I used to know.

I've thrown it in my paper bin several times, only to take it out again. An emotional barrier prevents me from going through with it all the way. I'm very close to breaking that barrier, but can't seem to get through yet.
Does anyone have tips on how to go through with this? That would be greatly appreciated.
p.s.: I can be very harsh and quick with all other items I'm getting rid of though...

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Post by Sven »

I went to that process as well and what worked for me is the following: first of all try to find out what is the reason stopping you of getting rid of it?

The memories you have of the good times you spent with that girl? You don't need the letters for that.. the memories will be there even when you don't have those letters anymore. In the end the exact words used aren't that important to keep those memories.

You still hope that one day you will meet again and be sad that you don't have those letters anymore? Well.. just try to get in contact again.. You don't feel like doing that? Then well.. there is no reason why to keep the letters! Maybe the girl you used to know has changed in such a way that you wouldn't recognize her anymore or she wouldn't write such letters anymore.. or even worse, you don't like/can't stand her anymore. So again, no reason to keep them. If she is still that nice girl, then well.. she can feel flattered that you still have those letters or she can feel awkward as she has get rid of hers a long time ago.
Facing the 'fear' is a good way to close a chapter!
If you decide to get rid of the letters, then do it in such a way there is no way back! Go through them one by one (if you really want to rake up the memories) and when you finished one.. then let it go through a paper shredder or burn it.

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Post by Nagerusu »

It's the situation where I can't stand her anymore. So it makes no sense to have this problem.

I'm gonna try shredding one letter, that might just set things in motion.
EDIT: Nice! Going over them one by one and actually shredding them seems to work. I do the least important stuff first and then work my way up.

I'm also in a good mood, so that helps too.

Thanks for the info.

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Post by Mo »

Something that has worked for me is scanning the letters into .pdf files. The image quality is nearly as good as having an original, if done properly. A page fed, duplex scanner can be very quick at scanning in a large number of letters, even of various sizes.
Then, I reason that since I have an electronic copy, I no longer need the paper copy. So I shred the paper copy.
Surprisingly I find I have very little emotional attachment to an electronic file, so it is mentally easier to delete the file at a later date. Or, if I really want to keep them, I just keep them on the computer.

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Post by photoguy »

I'm doing the same thing as Mo -- scanning all my excess paper files and destroying the originals. The only thing I would caution is having a good backup system (at least 3 copies, 1 offsite).

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Post by Nagerusu »

Those are good ideas too. But in this case, I'm still mad at the girl, so it makes no sense to keep it either digital or in paper. It is however, easier to delete a digital file. But going through the trouble to scan letters you don't want to keep is a little too much.
But I'm glad to tell you that today, I finally shredded all the letters! :D

Like I already mentioned, I was already close to breaking the emotional barrier... and today I could finally break it. Getting rid of them one by one, instead of the entire package, was the trick that did it for me.

It's a very liberating feeling and I have more space now.
But in any case, thanks for the advise. It's always interesting to learn about the little tricks people use to accomplish something...

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Post by AnneBentham »

Congrats on moving on. Isn't it nice to finally just let go? :)
When it comes to meaningful things, as other people here have also suggested, I usually scan them rather than keep paper copies. For 3D sentimental objects, I take/upload pictures and write about how they make me feel in my journal. That way I can look back at all of it without the burden of actual storage. It's usually the ideas that matter more than the things anyway. I do this when I'm getting rid of not-so-meaningful things, or acquiring new things as well, just because I like to track my progress and be able to look back on how my feelings about things change over time.

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Post by Piper »

You could also just wait until you no longer are mad. What's the rush? Let yourself have a little human failing. When it's time to let go, it won't be difficult at all to dispose of the letters.

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Post by Nagerusu »

@Piper: The rush was, because it was annoying to have the letters. I'm trying to declutter to a point of extreme minimalism. And they where in the way.

It does indeed feel nice to finally let go. That makes you wonder why it was difficult in the first place. It's a funny thing, the human mind...

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Post by il-besa »

Hi Nagerusu,

one question not related to those letters... you said you're trying to declutter to the extreme.

Beside the usual crap, old clothes and pointless souvenirs, what did you get rid of to consider the operation extreme?
I'm going trough a similar process and I need ideas :)

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Post by Nagerusu »

@il-besa: Everything I don't really need. If I can live without it, I'll try to get rid of it. Crap, old clothes, pointless souvenirs,...

Office supplies go down to the bear minimum (1 bic is all I need)

New clothes get worn until they break and will not be replaced, I just want to keep as much as I need and nothing more.

I took apart my bed and now put my matress on only the lat-bottom (I don't want to put it on the ground, because the matress needs some air underneed to breathe).

I have a big computer desk, which takes too much space, so I'm getting rid of it (and making a smaller desk from my bedframe).


Basically, I think about what I really need. I'm not becoming a monk, that would be the most extreme you can go. But I choose the most important things in my life and center my excess possesions around them. All other things need to be neccessities and not "wants".
Examples: I have 2 guitars. I like music and I play guitar a lot. It's not a neccessity, but it's a big part of my life.

I have a laptop I use for watching movies and a desktop pc I use for everything. I have to get rid of the laptop.

It's a difficult process and I often need ideas and inspiration too.

I get them from blogs and I also think about natural disasters. If they hit your house and you need to make a run for it, what would you take?

People who live in RV's, they can only store so much.

Living out of a suitcase (an ERE blogpost!), also a good measurement. Or even living out of a car. Can you fit everything you have into a small car? Use physical measurements to make it fun to declutter. In the end, you'll end up in a situation that's comfortable for you, but considered extreme by many.

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