Certain items provide you with a feeling of sentiment or nostalgia, and can be hard to let go of. This is a challenge I see regularly with clients who attribute meaning to things that look meaningless to other people. Things as ordinary as old t-shirts can become “keepsakes” to someone.
When you let things take on qualities beyond their practical value, they take up more room in your life. They reflect how you see yourself and letting go seems like losing part of your identity. Your accomplishments are real, however, and you don’t need objects to validate them. Consider, for example, whether you need to keep every trophy that you were awarded for participating in an event. Would it be more meaningful to keep just the first one or last one? Could you let go of all of them and only keep the one that you earned because you met a goal?
People have trouble letting go when they believe that everything from their past, or from a loved one who has died, represents a strong memory and that they would lose the memory without the object. When someone has died, there may be an overwhelming desire to save everything that person had contact with. While you may feel like you are providing a tribute to your loved one’s life, you are not showing respect for yourself or the deceased by taking on the entire contents of that life. It is extremely difficult to sort through years of accumulated objects and make decisions about each one. You might benefit from allowing a professional organizer or an unbiased friend to guide you in decision making.