Around Valentine’s Day we all start to think about love. But do you think about love when it comes to the things that fill your home?
Do you ever ask yourself, “Do I love it?”
Another way of asking this is, “Does it make me happy?” Or ask yourself the opposite: “Does it make me feel bad?”
Whether or not my clients love or hate/dislike the objects and items in their homes is probably the most important factor in keeping them or letting them go – but they rarely ask themselves this. Your home is the one – and ONLY – place in the world over which you have complete and total control (OK, we share control with our spouse/partner, kids, pets…go with me here): so fill it with things that you LOVE, things that make you feel good, feel happy.
So many times I’m working with a client and as they pick up an item (object, clothing, etc.), they make a “Eeewww” face. Or they actually say, “Oh, I hate this” under their breath. They don’t even realize that they’ve said it or made that face. When I point this out, they’re surprised, and I always ask, “If you hate it, or if it makes you feel that way, why do you keep it?”
Often they answer:
“It was a gift.”
“It was my mom’s.”
“I spent a lot of money on it.”
“But do you love it?”
“Do you like it?”
“How does it make you feel to keep it because you paid a lot of money for it, but don’t use/wear it?”
And then they get it.
Time to come clean: my mom sometimes gives me gifts that aren’t really my taste. They’re given with love, and received with love. I just prefer to surround myself and my family with things that we love instead of things that we don’t. An example would be some Christmas decorations that don’t really fit in with our Christmas décor (of which there is a lot). But my mom comes to visit us for Christmas every year or so and I want her to see that we appreciate her thoughtfulness. So I keep these items in my Christmas decorating bins. When she’s coming to visit, I pepper them throughout the house. When she’s not coming for Christmas, they stay in the bins. Everybody wins; nobody feels bad.
I’ve had clients who were keeping every piece of artwork or classwork from their kids. On the occasion when their kids were around, I’d ask the parent to see what the child thinks of letting it go. “Why are you keeping THAT?” You don’t like it, they don’t like – let it go!
Sometimes, you feel guilt – not a happy feeling. Guilt that you don’t like something that you think you should like, because your mother/father/etc. loved it. Recently, I was talking with a woman who asked for advice on some items that she had inherited. As an only child, she inherited everything from both of her parents. This included some porcelain teapots that belonged to one of her grandmothers. They were packed in boxes in her attic. I asked why she kept them: “Because my grandmother loved them. She always made tea in them, and they remind me of her.” I asked, “Would you make tea in them, or is there a place you could display them in your home as decorations?” “No, I don’t like tea, and I don’t really like them. They wouldn’t fit in my home.” To give them away made her feel like she was giving away her grandmother, who she loved dearly.
“So, no judgment here, but let me ask you this: You loved your grandmother very much; she was very important to you. She loved those teapots, and they meant a lot to her. How are you honoring that love by keeping these teapots packed away in the attic? Wouldn’t it honor your grandmother, your love, and her love of those teapots to give them away to someone who would display them, and use them, and love them as much as she did?”
“I never thought of that. Yes! That is SO helpful! You just solved my problem.”
I recently saw this woman again at a lunch meeting. Not only had she started giving away some of the teapots, but another friend of ours at the same meeting asked if she could have some of them: she loves older things, and loves to make tea.
Surround yourself with things that you love, that make you happy, that make you feel good.
Do you love it? If not, let it go so it can be loved by someone else.