Clearing Sentimental Attachments

Wedding shoesThis is a photo of my wedding shoes. I wore them just once on my wedding day 29 years ago and I’ve kept them neatly in this box ever since.


Because these grass-stained relics remind me of the joyful day that I walked across a grassy knoll on the coast of Maine to marry my sweetheart and best friend. (Never mind that they take up space and no longer fit or feel good on my feet.)

The bigger question to ask of course is this: Is it possible to remember that magical day without carting a box of shoes (I never open and will never wear) from house to house, closet to closet? Is it possible to pull the box out and use it to practice letting go with compassionate awareness?

The short answer is yes. And here’s why:

“Some of us fear that letting go of the sweet reminders of our past will erase and nullify the good memories forever. It’s things like the tattered quilt that reminds you of summers on Lake Champlain; the kids’ art projects; the blurry and faded snapshots of people and places you don’t even recognize. Perhaps knowing that good memories – as energy – can never be lost or erased (and “bad” memories can be a constant drain) might make it easier to keep what makes your heart sing and release what does not.”–Chapter 5, “Mental Clutter,” Your Spacious Self

And the longer part to the answer that most clearing approaches do not address is that sometimes it takes as long as it takes to let some things go.

No amount of coaxing or analyzing is going to move something any faster out that door if the mind is spinning a memory from the past, feels duty-bound to save “just in case”, or is in caught in fight or flight survival mode.

The only way to unhinge a mind that is in lock-down is to adopt a gentle approach that involves clearing things that are doable and won’t activate the fight or flight response.

After nearly three decades, I finally let the wedding shoes go.  I took the photo of them and added the box to the mountain of stuff we took to the Goodwill that day. No biggie.

Way easier than I expected…

… even if the grass stains I see in the photo do still elicit a smallish pang.

Happy clearing!

Is there something you’re still hanging onto for sentimental reasons that you might be ready to release? Let us know here in the comment box or our page on Facebook. How does it feel to let go – with compassionate self-care?

p.s. If you find this message helpful, please forward it to someone else (or share, like, tweet, pin… ) and let’s build the clearing energy together that will help to lighten all of our loads!



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Showing 4 comments
  • Terrie

    Getting rid of it all sounds great in the aggregate, but I get stopped cold when I look at each individual item. Part of what stops me is the recommendation to take a digital photo. Technology changes so quickly that I am afraid the memory will be lost for all time when the latest whiz-bang tech solution doesn’t support the old ones. No doubt this probably boils down to a trust and faith issue, which is probably true, so now I’m stopped on 2 fronts! Oh my…

    • Stephanie Bennett Vogt

      Hi Terrie,

      I know what you mean. I get stopped cold too sometimes. I agree that it all boils down to trusting that if we are meant to revisit and remember happy times from our past, there will be a way – digital or otherwise – to recapture them.

      It’s a trade off – holding onto memories from our past, or being present here and now. The small mind doesn’t want to lose and goes into its default setting of holding on to past memories and fearful thoughts of what if I forget. I believe that by cultivating being in the present moment we are way more spacious and less needy about having those cookie crumbs guide us back to the “good old days.” The best bits from our past will be there, in the form of energy, continually enriching our lives in present time, if that makes sense.

      Thanks for writing!

      Happy clearing!


  • Crystal

    I am reading what you have to say about the ‘material reminders’. It makes it a bit easier to see that another is having those same experiences, those sentimental ‘waves’. I have noticed guilt feelings from things I had to let go of, nearly a decade ago, that belonged to my Father. But then being in the present I notice that he sends me little gifts, like a feather at the right time. So even though I have a hard time forgiving myself, I believe he is sending me compassion to help me heal. I do have a question though. How do you handle feelings that arise when you had asked someone to take care of a sentimental object for a while and they ended up donating it?! I plow through anger about it, sadness, etc. Thank you and love this website!

  • Elizabeth Murphy

    I have seven children and have managed all their mementos and photographs in scrap book form for them. It had overwhelmed a large part of my life trying to keep up and created ongoing clutter. At one of my daughter’s 8th grade graduation ceremony, I had forgotten my camera. Pictures always accompanied programs, tickets and journal entries in their books. I was beating myself up for forgetting the camera and that this event wouldn’t be “properly documented.” When I told my daughter I’d forgotten the camera she said, “Don’t worry mom I will have the memories in my heart.” All their memories didn’t have to be documented, they belonged to them.

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