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9 Tips for Sorting Memorabilia

9 Tips for Sorting Memorabilia

    Have you been putting off opening those boxes that your mother handed over to you when she was cleaning out her attic, boxes full of papers, trinkets and treasures from your childhood? Many people shove those boxes in their own attics to deal with later. Why? Because they have the power to bring your history back to life, at least in your memory. And, our histories are a mixed bag!

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    But, there is a payoff for sorting memorabilia in search of the most precious items, those that stir the best memories and feelings. When you let go of quantities of things from the past, you release some of the emotional burden of the past and can be more fully present in your life.

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    Use the following 9 tips to help you face the challenge of searching for the true treasures, the diamonds, among the stuff of your past, the stones.

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    1. Schedule a time for sorting your memorabilia when you’ll have plenty of time to reflect, feel your feelings and recover from any sad, mad or other uncomfortable feelings.
    2. Consider sorting memorabilia with a trusted friend or family member who might be interested in the content and who understands that examining and letting go of memorabilia can be a difficult process.
    3. Your intention for the first pass should be to eliminate items with obvious negative energies, those that bring up sad, hurt or angry feelings. If you hold onto those items you will be anchoring those old feelings in place.
    4. Sort the memorabilia into items that are for-sure keep, for-sure get rid of, and undecided. Remember that you are looking for items that have the BEST energies of the past, items that make your heart smile. You are looking for diamond energy in a sea of stones!
    5. When you choose items to keep, consider how they will fit into your home. It is always best if memorabilia can be displayed or at least is easily accessible to you so you can enjoy the positive memories it calls forth. If space is limited, keep the best of smaller items that anchor the energy of a particular time period or person. It isn’t necessary to keep everything that holds those energies. Just keep the best! For example, I keep the memory of my maternal grandmother alive with my favorite photograph of her on the wall of my office and her wedding band that I wear every day. When I inherit her china, I will keep a special piece or two and sell the rest. I need no more than 3 or 4 items to keep her awesome energy in my space and in my life.
    6. If items identified for release could be important to another family member or a museum, offer them to the person or institution. If they really have no value to anyone but you, and you’ve decided to part with them, either donate them or throw them in the trash.
    7. Only consider selling items that have clear monetary value, like jewelry or antiques. And, do it in a way that is easy and safe to do, like consignment or through an email broker who works with Craig’s List or Ebay. Selling is a hassle and often does not bring results that are worth the effort. And, it’s not uncommon for people to put things aside to sell, but never make those arrangements because they don’t know the best way to do it. Wanting to sell things can be a barrier to getting rid of them.
    8. If you get stuck on items that you are undecided about, put those items to the side and set a deadline for when you will revisit them. You’ll find that if you get rid of the items that you easily identified to toss, you’ll shift the energies in your space for the better. When that happens your perspective will also shift. That way, when you revisit those items, you can examine them with the benefit of better energy in your space and more clarity in your thinking. It will be easier for you to decide what to keep and what to pitch!
    9. If after a waiting period you are still struggling with what to do with certain items, invite a trusted friend or family member to help you make decisions about them. Sometimes if you tell another person the story of an item’s significance, you can let it go. Or, at the very least you’ll be able to hear your own energy in your voice as you talk about it. Items that should be kept are those about which you still have strong feelings and high energy.

    Clearing memorabilia will help you be more present in the current moment. Who knows? You may remove energetic barriers that you didn’t even know were blocking happiness, success and forward progress toward achieving your goals and dreams.

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    Last Updated on July 17, 2019

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

    What happens in our heads when we set goals?

    Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

    Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

    According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

    Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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    Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

    Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

    The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

    Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

    So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

    Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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    One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

    Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

    Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

    The Neurology of Ownership

    Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

    In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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    But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

    This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

    Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

    The Upshot for Goal-Setters

    So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

    On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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    It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

    On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

    But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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