The KonMari Approach to Sentimental Items – KonMari | The Official Website of Marie Kondo

The KonMari Approach to Sentimental Items

Hands holding family photos

Even after you’ve begun to discover what sparks joy for you, the category of sentimental items can feel unexpectedly challenging — for good reason! Letting go of a grandmother’s heirloom or photos you’ve collected over the years, requires more courage than tidying a kitchen or closet. 

Every one of us struggles with letting go of mementos. But now that you’ve built a strong foundation and mindset, it’s time to tackle the hardest KonMari Method™ category. Here are our tips for finding your way forward while still celebrating the joys of your past. 

Trust Yourself

Sentimental items make up the final category in the KonMari Method™️ for a reason — tackling them requires an expertly-honed ability of determining what sparks joy. 

Before you take stock of any of these items, look inwardly. Celebrate the progress you have already made and trust in how that same progress has developed your power to discern what’s truly joyful. Doing so will help you address your sentimental items with confidence.

As you move through the category, don’t force yourself to let go of anything you’re not sure about. If deep inside you know an item has already served its purpose, let it go with a send-off ritual to make saying goodbye easier. Hold on to the rest with absolute certainty!

Honor the Past by Setting It Free 

As you start to address some of your more difficult sentimental items, start by reminding yourself that mementos are not memories. We can still honor our past while letting go of excess. 

As always, using the KonMari Method™ to ask what sparks joy will help you decide which items hold genuine value. To push past any lingering uncertainty, try asking a few additional questions like: Why is it hard for me to let go of this heirloom? Do I feel connected to this item or to the memory it represents? Will I forget a part of this memory if I let this go? Am I honoring the past by holding onto this object, or am I avoiding the present? 

By discarding what doesn’t spark joy, we free up space to reflect more deeply on our past experiences — and to recognize how they’ve prepared us for whatever comes next. 

“No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.”

— Marie Kondo

Embrace Your Growth

Marie often reminds KonMari Method™ beginners that successfully tidying up requires that we keep the focus firmly on ourselves. That means taking personal responsibility for deciding what sparks joy and what we can discard from our lives.  

With the sentimental items category, in particular, you may find that you have stored certain items in spaces that no longer belong to you — perhaps in the attic or guest room of your childhood home. 

Don’t use your parents’ home to hold onto mementos that no longer feel significant. Build time into this process to reclaim them, take inventory, better organize what sparks joy and let go of the rest.

Make Space for What Inspires 

Of course, some mementos inspire us to work on becoming the best versions of ourselves. These are the sentimental items that spark joy and they deserve a designated place in your home. For many of us, certain photos — of a wedding, our child’s first year, or a once-in-a-lifetime family vacation — will fall into this category. Much like you used the KonMari Method™ to handle other categories in the home, we recommend collecting them together in one place. Keep them in plain sight so that you can reach for them often. Choose an album over a photo box, so you can easily revisit these memories during quiet moments or share them with visiting friends and family. Let them serve as a reminder of how far you’ve come and encourage you to reach new, joyful heights.

Need inspiration on how to showcase your special photos? Check out the Shutterfly x KonMari collection.

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