What kind of value do you put on the things you own? Is it sentimental value or maybe emotional value? Could it be practical or useful value? Or maybe it’s monetary value.
If you don’t know what kind of value you put on an item you may be keeping many things that don’t add to your life and make it better. That’s what creates clutter.
It’s hard to let go of things when we put unrealistic values on them.
So how do you know if the value you place on an item is unrealistic or not?
Here are the definitions of the four kinds mentioned above. This knowledge can help you learn to recognize the true value of what you own. It can also help you recognize what has no value to your life. Those are the things that need to be let go of.
1. Sentimental Value
The basic definition of sentimental value is that something is of value to someone because of personal or emotional associations rather than material worth.
In other words we keep an item because it brings up cherished memories of a place, time, person, or event that meant a lot to us.
These items may be from:
- When we were children.
- From our own children when they were young.
- Souvenirs from vacations or other trips.
- Loved ones who have passed away.
- From an event we were involved in.
- A gift from someone we care about.
There is nothing wrong with keeping a few sentimental items. The problem comes in when you have so many of them that they keep you living in the past. When you are constantly surrounded by these things it’s hard to focus on the present.
As we get older we have more experiences to add to our memories. If we keep an item (or two, or three) to remind us of a lifetime of experiences then those items will take over our homes.
2. Practical/Useful Value
When something is of practical value it’s usually involving or concerned with experience or actual use. When something is of useful value it is used to do something or to help you in some way. Clothes, cooking utensils, furniture, toiletries, etc. are examples of practical and/or useful items that help us live our daily lives. Depending on our individual lifestyles we need the basics plus a few extras.
The problem comes in when we have trouble defining what our needs are and what our wants are. All the clothes in your closet may come under the definition of “useful” but are you wearing all of them? Do they all fit and make you feel great?
If you find that you are not using a practical or useful item then what value does it have for you? Why are you keeping it? Remember, it has to do something or help you in some way that makes your life better.
4. Emotional Value
Emotional value is different than sentimental value. It is defined as: caused, determined, or actuated by emotion rather than reason. Sentimental value is usually due to a personal association to an item. When you give an item an emotional value it may be for reasons that add to your life or for reasons that don’t make a lot of sense.
If you have a picture or wall hanging that you absolutely love each time you walk into the room then it has a good emotional value. The item may not be worth a lot of monetary value or have any sentimental value. Nor may it have useful value but it adds to your happiness in life.
But what about those items where there isn’t a good reason to keep them?
- It was a gift from someone. It doesn’t matter whether you like the item or not.
- You paid good money for it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had it for 1 or 20 years and it’s worn out or maybe never even used.
- You don’t need it anymore but you feel guilty putting it in the trash. Many things can be recycled but some things are just trash.
Maybe you bought a piece of clothing that didn’t fit right or the color turned out bad. You never got around to returning it so you feel guilty about wasting money. But you keep it anyway to remind you of your mistake. You don’t deserve to punish yourself this way.
Maybe you received a gift from someone but you never liked it. Yet you keep it because you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings. But what about your feelings? Are they less important than the other person’s feelings?
“Life is too precious to waste on items that bring out negative or guilty feelings.”
4. Monetary Value
This one has a simple definition – it has some material worth. That doesn’t mean it’s always worth a lot of money but it does have some value.
This can be a tough one when determining what value it has for you. All the other values can play into it. The big question is: Do you value the item for sentimental, practical/useful, or emotional reasons or do you value the money you think you can get for it. Monetary value can trump all the other values.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to decide if the monetary value trumps the other values you have attached to an item.
If you can get good money for any item would you sell it:
- even if it had a strong sentimental value for you?
- if it had a practical or useful value that made your daily life easier and/or more enjoyable
- if it had such a strong emotional value that you would feel depressed without it.
So the next questions would be:
If you are willing to sell an item for money does it really have a true sentimental, practical/useful, or emotional value to you?
Once you identify what kind of value an item has for you it will be easier to decide if it is worth keeping or not. Remember your life is more important than those items. Keep only the ones that make you feel alive and happy.
To a lighter load along the way.