In her book Let Go of Clutter, Harriet Schechter writes about how to let go of sentimental clutter. This kind of clutter is stuff with valid emotional attachments, and logic doesn’t play any part in whether you decide to keep it or not.
Items that make you feel joyful with the memories they bring back, such as love letters and home movies, you’ll want to keep.
We all have items that bring up less than happy feelings, but they are parts of our personal history, so we want to keep them too. The trick is that not all negative emotions are created equal.
What you need to know is: is it sad or is it bad?
Items that make you feel sad, such as condolence cards or pet mementos, are worth keeping in spite of the memories they hold. Even if they make us sad, they give us the warm fuzzies as we remember how much we loved those who aren’t with us now.
Items that make you feel bad should go. These are angry letters, heirlooms from relatives who make you feel bad about yourself, gifts from embittered ex-spouses, etc.
Certainly, into each life a little rain must fall, but that’s no reason to keep a bucket full of it in your closet.
Let the mementos you keep inspire happy memories, or tender ones. Mementos should be reminders of a full, rich life.
Another way to pare down sentimental clutter is by keeping only the “greatest hits.”