Emotional Attachment to Things:
Why Is It So Hard to Let Things Go?
Sometimes it is attached to a memory.
My husband and I had a wonderful week-long vacation on the coast of Maine in a lovely cottage by the sea last August. I bought a t-shirt to remember this particular time. I loved wearing it, and I wore it frequently. Too bad it was white because it got severely stained. It was hard to get rid of it, but I knew I needed to, so I did. I will always have those memories of the walks on the beach, the crisp sea air, and the site of all those beautiful seagulls flying overhead. Releasing the t-shirt did not remove those memories.
Sometimes it is attached to monetary value.
It could be that you paid a lot of money for an item and now you have to move, and the item does not fit in the new place. It happened to us when we moved out of a large home into a small condo. We had to sell many things that had high monetary value when we moved. One item was a huge dining room table and chairs that seated 14 people, and it was not that old. It was beautiful. We loved that table and created memories of happy family times and great meals eaten around that table. When I sold the table to a lady who often hosted international students in her home, it did my heart good that this family would use my table in such a good way. I tried to focus on the memories she was going to make with her new table, which eased the pain of releasing it.
Sometimes it is attached to a dream or goal.
My husband Dan was hanging onto 70 boxes of comic books for many years. Even though he reached the point when he could no longer read or enjoy them, he still kept them. They were just taking up space in our tiny home. He was finally able to sell them a couple of months ago. He used to say he wanted to open up a comic book store someday – that was his dream, but he knew it was not going to become a reality. Dan could give it to a man who could enjoy them, and it made us both happy.
Sometimes it is attached to a person you lost.
Drew, my youngest son, gave me some owl slipper socks the last Christmas we had together before his death six years ago. Over time, these socks had gotten raggedy with much use, but I was hanging onto them because he gave them to me. They represented that special Christmas and the extra thought my son put into each gift we received from him. They brought back memories of us singing Christmas carols together while he played his viola. I was able to get rid of them recently. That Christmas will forever be in my heart even though the socks will no longer be on my feet.
Whatever the emotional attachment may be, we can hopefully begin to realize that those memories are not in the things but instead in our hearts and minds. Only after we realize this can we start to release them and clear up space for new items. We need to look to the future when it comes to our things. We need to remove the things we have that no longer serve us. When we do this we will soon discover that less stuff equals more joy. When we release things we should never be attached to, we are free to enjoy new things and experiences. We are free to really live.