The excuses we use to hold on to things

The excuses we use to hold on to things:

“I keep it ‘just in case'”

“It’s for emergencies”

“It was a gift”

“It’s an heirloom”

“These are memories”

“I’ll get to it”


I’d like to explore these one at a time.


“just in case” – In case what? how often do we realistically expect this rare circumstance to happen? Isn’t it rare enough such that in the event it happens, it is worth acquiring it at that time of the occurrence rather that retaining now and having it take up space in our home.


“It’s for emergencies” – Do we mean “life or death” emergency? If not, see the paragraph above, but if it is a matter of survival it has substantial value in the home. Just be sure it’s not more of a hazard than an asset (I’m thinking of course of keeping a weapon in the home).


“It was a gift” – How long have we kept this gift? Don’t we believe there is a limit to how long an item retains value in our lives? What is that time? Hasn’t this item lived out its value? Don’t we think the giver of the gift can respect that?


“It is an heirloom” – Is it truly an heirloom, or are we just calling it that because it’s old and our elders owned it? If our family is truly tied to it, I can see the value. If on the other hand it is just a tie to our memories, see the next paragraph.


“These are memories” – How many things do we have that tie us to the same set of memories? If we downsize this collection, can we not still stay tied to those memories, that history? It is also important to remember that our memories are in US, not in things. While it is important to maintain some link to our past, too much of this acts as an anchor holding us down; keeping us from growth, from our future. The mind purges old memories for a good reason. Retaining too many old “heirlooms” keeps too many of those memories fresh, denying the mind it’s natural inclination to purge. Out with the old to make room for the new.


“I’ll get to it” – Oh YEAH, when? If we don’t have the drive enough to set a time, then our commitment is weak. A commitment THAT weak should be discarded to make room for stronger ones. If we feel we ARE committed and just haven’t found the time due to obligations (the argument about unnecessary obligations is another essay, another time), then lets try this:

Discard the item ANYWAY. In the event we ARE committed to it, we will acquire it again. Consider the act of acquiring again as proof to ourselves of our commitment. It will also answer the very important question “Do I have it because I am committed to it, or am I committed to it because I have it?”. Also, we are more likely to honor such a commitment if we just dumped a lot of money into it. There is always the real possibility that once we discard the old item, we will feel relief, as we are no longer bound by a commitment we were tied to because of a thing we were holding on to.