"I don't really have trouble with buying things. What I hate to get rid of, what is cluttering my life, are sentimental things: Gifts my kids gave me, things they made, and all their photos and videos. I can look at something I bought and toss it easily. But I have BOXES of photos, slides from my past, 20 years of videotapes of the kids, and I do not know what to do with them."
What happens with sentimental things is somewhere in our mind is branded the idea that old photos, kids art, gifts and videos are sacred and must be hung on to. They usually go unquestioned. And when these things are questioned, the emotional hold is too powerful, and we give up.
Normally we get caught up and trapped in the emotional attachment. The memories we associate with these things act as anchors that keep us stuck. That makes sense because when we took the photos, or the video, or we got the gift, or we first saw our kid's art, it was a very alive, heart moment for us. But time has passed, and we are no longer in that moment. But a part of us feels, "If I let this thing go, I'll lose the memories and the feelings that go along with them."
The thing to know is, we can't lose memories and feelings. By trying to hang onto them, we cause ourselves grief. When you say these things are, "Cluttering up my life" and "I don't know what to do with them" and "I hate to get rid of (them)", these are red flags. They are indicators of the disturbance you are feeling. They are not joyful and uplifting responses. It helps to shine a light on the side-effects they are causing.
The way to make the process of clutter busting sentimental things easier on us is to go through each thing separately, and ask, "Do I like and enjoy this, or can I let it go?" It's easier to assess and let go of emotionally loaded things if you do it one at a time. I've seen this process help a lot of clients release the "sacred" hold.