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Blog: The Nature of Being Organized
TheTug Of Our Memories



One of the most difficult areas when it comes to letting go of our stuff, I think, and many of my clients would agree, is the stuff attached to memories. We love to look at our stuff and reflect back on the past and reminisce about where we were, who we were with, what we were wearing, what was special about the moment, how it made us feel, what was being said, everything, right?
                                                                                                                       
Memories and the stuff attached to them evoke many feelings. Some that we want to replay like our favorite song and others we'd prefer to forget. These powerful emotions are what create the resistance and the resistance creates the pain we feel when it's time to let go. If only the act of letting go were as easy as saying it! The challenge comes when the stuff attached to hundreds and hundreds of our memories pile up and up and up! 
 
I have met both clients and non-clients who have saved everything from movie ticket stubs from every movie they ever saw to clothes that belonged to a deceased loved one to saving a car they took a trip in twenty years ago and everything in between. It's as if we have come to believe that if we let go of the stuff we'll totally forget the experience, the person or the place attached to it. Is that true?
 
Unfortunately these "memory minders" can stay hidden away for years in the backs of closets, in the attic or basement where we rarely, if ever, look at them. They carry a lot of weight, both emotional and physical, but we can't get rid of them! Who would want them number one? And the thought of throwing them in the trash feels like blasphemy.
 
So what do we do when we begin to notice that valuable real estate is being consumed by these memory minders? The first thing we must do is a values clarification. Ask, "What is more important, my stuff or my space?" Then we need to ask, "What is the story I'm telling myself about letting go of this stuff?" Trust me, there is always a story and it's usually quite colorful and quite untrue!
 
I have been thinking for a long time of letting go of the sweater coat that belonged to my mother who died ten years ago. I haven't worn it in years. It's not taking up space in my closet—really. My story is about her feeling bad, or worse, mad that I had the nerve to give it away! She's not here anymore! She's happy where she is and doesn't care about the coat! She's actually forgotten she ever had it!
 
I am bringing the coat to the Salvation Army this weekend! There, I've declared it publicly. Now I'll do it! I'll take a picture of it first—for safe keeping--and imagine the smile it will put on someone's face.
 
Our stuff isn't another person, place or the actual memory. We'll never forget the really important people, experiences or places from our past. We do need to live in the present. After all, it's in the present where our memories begin and we don't want to miss out now, do we?
 
Happy Letting Go!
 
Maggie
 
 
 
 
 

posted on: 1/22/2009 12:00:00 PM by Maggie McCauley
category: The Mental Side


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Discuss This Post


by Don on 1/22/2009 1:01:48 PM:

I have thousands of these memories all over the house. They grow in dark places! How about a file cabinet of old travel magazines? They have been kept by me for twenty years or so because my late wife and I intended to travel a lot. Now when I do travel, I never look at them. I might procrastinate a little bit more because of being in the midst of a huge mess due to a broken pipe putting water in my house during this freezing weather. Then the mags go to the nearby recycling dumpsters. Thanks for a good article.

by Ann Marie Williams on 1/23/2009 8:08:24 AM:

You know the old saying, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Photographing "memorable" items is a great way to keep the memory but let go of the item that is taking up space. I worked with a client this week doing this with her children's artwork from school. There were a few very special ones that she will keep, but many went into the trash. Many we took photos of and stored on her computer. We filled up a trash bag. All that extra space, but you have the memory too. And to top it off, we found an emergency fund envelope in the box of artwork...so she not only had peace of mind from the space she gained, she was $3,000 richer!!!

by Maggie on 1/23/2009 7:20:40 PM:

Thank you Ann for sharing your story! Amazing! It beats the $300 check one of my clients found. Your client is making some wonderful new memories!


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The Nature of Being Organized


by Maggie McCauley

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About Maggie:

Maggie McCauley, ACC, LICSW, The Effortless Organizing Coach, is the president of "A New View". She takes a holistic approach to organizing coaching her clients to create new habits that promote overall well-being, a sense of freedom and peace of mind.

Maggie's Website:

www.anewviewforyou.com


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My Favorite Books

  • The Success Principles by Jack Canfield
  • It's Hard To Make A Difference When You Can't Find Your Keys by Marilyn Paul
  • Organize With Confidence by Elizabeth Hagen
  • The Secret Of Letting Go by Guy Finley
  • Life Is Short--Wear Your Party Pants by Loretta La Roche
  • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz
  • The Seven Whispers by Christina Baldwin
  • Loving What Is by Byron Katie
  • Making A Change For Good by Cheri Huber
  • "Happiness Now!" by Robert Holden, PhD.


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