When helping my clients to simplify their homes, we inevitably find a treasure trove of gifts that have been given to them that do NOT spark joy. You name it - candles, soaps, scarves, trinkets, souvenirs, the works. You can probably think of the ones in your home right now.
We feel an obligation to hold on to these items, even though we don't find them beautiful or useful, for fear of offending the giver. The thing is, they are weighing us down.
I help people let go not just of the item itself, but of the guilt that may come along with it.
Here's how the conversation typically goes:
Client: "Ugh, so this is a scarf that my daughter gave me a few years ago for Christmas."
Me: "Does it spark joy?"
Client: "Damn. I knew you were going to ask me that. I really don't like it, but I'm afraid she'll ask me about it if I let it go."
Me: "The act of giving sparks joy in the moment. It's the person's way of telling you that they care about you. Once the act of giving is over, if the gift doesn't spark joy, then you can feel free to let it go and let it spark joy for someone else."
Client: "But what if she asks me about it?"
Me: "You say: 'Hannah, you remember how I am doing this KonMari process to simplify my home and my life? You know, I'm identifying everything that sparks joy? Well, I just wanted to tell you something. You spark a ton of joy for me. I love you. That scarf you gave me last year for Christmas does not. I let it go. [Wait for laughter and possibly a spontaneous hug of forgiveness.] And I want you to know that if I ever give you anything that doesn't spark joy, you can let it go as well."
Client: "Ooooh, that sounds good. Will you write it down for me?"
Me: "I'll write a blog about it and send it to you."
Remember, simplifying and de-cluttering your life means having a ruthless focus on what truly sparks joy, so that you have the time and space to focus on what really matters. It's the gift-GIVERS in your life that matter, not the gifts themselves.
Happy simplifying, friends.
PS - If you need a little laugh, check out this hilarious Saturday Night Live skit about the oh-so-frequent gift: the candle. :)