By Amanda Gordon
We’re often encouraged to collect memories not things, but did you know the two are very often interlinked? We asked Clinical Psychologist Amanda Gordon to explain why we become so attached to our possessions, and the impact of losing things we value.
Ever experienced that sinking feeling when you think you’ve lost your phone, only to be overcome with relief when you find it buried deep inside your bag? Or been about to throw away an old item of clothing from your wardrobe before rescuing it at the last minute and returning it to its hanger?
These emotions may be fleeting, but they can give us some appreciation of just how important our possessions are to us.
It’s all about the memories
Even though an old dress/suit/onesie we haven’t worn for five years (and probably never will again!) has little material value, it’s infused with memories of the event we wore it to, and how we felt that day. And while our phones are easily replaceable, the contacts, photos and notes we’ve stored on it are often not.
Psychologically, our possessions become an extension of us. They give us a sense of who we are, and being around them makes us feel safe. Whether it’s a dining table we’ve had for years, a souvenir from our trip to Paris, or even the home we live in, all of these are a symbol of security, familiarity, and a life well lived.
Making new connections
There’s no doubt we grieve following the loss of a loved one, but we can also grieve the loss of things. That’s why it’s so important to protect things that mean so much to us – understanding which items we value and why, storing them correctly, and insuring them appropriately.
And if something you value has already been lost, damaged or stolen? Recording your memory in another way – such as literally writing down ‘I used to have a watch that was passed down to me from my grandmother’ – could help to transfer the emotional connection and mitigate your loss.
So, next time you’re struggling to de-clutter at home, take a photo of your item or write it down. You may find it makes the process of parting with your possessions that little bit easier.
Amanda’s 5 steps to peace of mind
With the emotional connection we have to our treasured possessions making them both valuable and irreplaceable, we asked Amanda how can we keep them, and our memories, safe.
- Understand what’s important to you
Valuable things are not always the most expensive – or the most obvious. So do the ‘fire test’ and consider what five items you would absolutely save from your house if you had to flee quickly.
- Stay organised
Now you’ve identified your important possessions, take steps to keep them safe. Remember where they’re located, and make sure they’re easily accessible in case you need to get to them quickly.
- Protect your memories
Take pre-emptive steps to protect your memories by taking photos of your important items, for safe-keeping.
- Back up your devices
Our laptops and mobile devices are more than just practical items – they’re often a hub for our memories too. Back up your hard drive regularly and make sure you keep copies of photos, videos, contacts and important documents elsewhere.
- Take out home and contents insurance
While we don’t like to contemplate losing our home or treasured possessions, taking out insurance not only helps protect us financially, it helps us better cope emotionally in the event we do unfortunately lose something important – because we feel secure in the knowledge that we did all we could to safeguard our belongings.
How safeguarded are your things?
If Amanda’s insights on emotional and financial security strike a chord, start today on her 5 steps to peace of mind and take a look at our current saving on ING DIRECT Home and Contents Insurance – you could save up to 30% online.
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