Bore that I am, I mentioned R. H. Blyth’s definition of sentimentality: that we are being sentimental when we give to a thing more tenderness than God gives to it.
Getting rid of these objects won’t wrack you with guilt, just like no longer having a physical reminder of “Remember that time…” won’t make you feel empty. Quite the opposite. Cutting your emotional ties to physical objects will make you feel free and fulfilled. When the object is gone, there will no longer be an intermediary between you and the memory. Instead, there will be a direct link. You will stop caring about these objects physically because you know that even if they were to disappear from your life, the memories you have never will.
Letting go of sentimentalising objects also allowed me to let go of living in the past. By surrounding myself constantly with physical reminders of time gone by, I was constantly revisiting my memories when I should’ve been living in the present. While this was usually an unconscious act, I also started to use this retreat as a coping mechanism whenever something bad happened to me. Instead of dealing with the problem so that I could happy again presently, I’d try to cheer myself up with memories of “the good old days”. While this did and does work, it is ultimately a form of escapism whose results don’t last. It can also build unnecessary and unhealthy feelings of resentment towards the present, and idealizes the past.
Even after realizing all of this, I still identify myself as a sentimental person. However, I now approach sentimentality in a different way. I deeply appreciate happy moments and occassions in my life, and apply maybe a little too much tenderness to these times. But I no longer keep physical reminders. If the moment was as great as I thought it was, I will remember it, and look back on it fondly when appropriate. My home, life, and mind will be uncluttered, allowing me to give precedence to that which is most important: the present. I will cherish all the laughter, experiences, and good times. But I won’t keep the receipts, won’t cry if I lose the birthday gift, won’t step into the souvenir shop. I’ll appreciate the here and now without having to worry about sentimentalizing it when it’s gone, because I’ll know that more good things are on their way.