How to let go of items people have given you.
OK, this is a tough one: the people that love you generally love to give you gifts, for birthdays, Christmas, even just to say thanks. But what if these items aren't your style? Or you don't need them any more? How do you let them go without feeling guilty? I come across this all the time! People are holding onto items they don't like just because someone gave it to them. "Oh, but my Aunt Julie gave this to me, I know it looks awful, but I can't throw it". Don't get me wrong I'm not a robot, I felt just as bad letting these items go the first time. It’s worse if someone has pasted away, my mum died when I was 17 and letting things go felt like I was loosing part of her. But after some time I realised she wouldn’t love me less if I threw out that birthday card or gave away that awful fleece jumper she bought me from Target when I was fifteen. I have learnt a few things along my journey of living with less that I hope may help you in letting go of those items that no longer serve you.
First things first I think we need to get down to the why of this problem. Firstly why did the person give it to you? And why do you feel bad letting it go? Here is the thing, when someone that loves you is giving you a gift it isn't the object that is the important part of it, its that they are showing you love by spending money on a present that they have picked out just for you. And yes they may have spent hours thinking about what to give you or even a lot of money, but they did that not because they wanted you to keep the item forever. They did it because they wanted to show they care. They were thinking of you and always will.
And what does this mean for that object you know own? The important part was the gesture of giving it to you not what it is. The act has been completed, you feel loved by that person, and the other person has shown their love.
Know you say yes but I still feel bad letting it go. And to this, I ask why? If it was the gesture that was important why are you holding onto the object? If you still love the item or use it all the time, by all means, hold onto it! This isn't about getting rid of everything, it's about getting rid of items that don't serve you… or you just don't like. So if you don't like it, it's sitting in the back of a cupboard collecting dust, but you can't let go of it, here is what I always say to people: take a step back for the item. Really it's just an object. You have attached your love to it, but it isn't the object you love, it was the fact that you received it from someone who loves you. If you no longer own it will they love you any less? Or will that memory of them giving you this item dissolve? Of course not. And I promise you they won't remember that stuffed teddy bear they gave you fifteen years ago that you no longer have. Or not love you as much if they find out you let it go.
Secondly, I always ask myself, could this object be giving someone else more joy? That really expensive vase you got that is hiding away as it just doesn't suit your décor could be in a home where someone cherishes it every day. That hideous star wars mug you got from your in-laws as they found out you liked the movies so presumed you wanted memorabilia from it, could it possibly just go to charity? I know there is some super geek out there who will go nuts for it! If its hidden and not being used, could it be given to someone else that will love it more then you?
Which leads me onto my last point, in the day and age of too much consumerism, I am all for re-gifting. We all get those presents from work colleges that don't really know us but feel obligated to give us yet another body wash, or cheap perfume box set we will never use. Why not re-gift it? Will they really know? Will they really care? Again refer to my first point; they have fulfilled their showing of love, they aren't going to check your bathroom to see if you used that coffee body scrub. Instead, if you have a friend that actually loves that kind of thing pass it on! They will love it, you will look like a fabulous person, and no one will be the wiser. And the bonus, you saved some money.
At the end of the day this is a slow process, don't rush it. As humans, we attached a lot of emotion to objects, and it takes months if not years to separate that sometimes. I started culling my home two years ago, and I am still doing so. I think I am done then a few months later I realise I still have some much stuff! You may look at something the first time and think to your self " I can't give this up, it meant so much to my dad when he gave it to me" and instead get rid of yet another candle you were gifted. But maybe a few months later or a year later after culling less sentimental items, you will be able to come back to it and see that your father gave you that item because he loved you so much, and he still does even if that object is no longer in your life.