Lost Sock Syndrome

baby socks

No, no, lost sock syndrome isn’t a real term. It’s not a thing. I made it up. But, stick with me. Do you have a bunch of lost/mismatched/singleton socks that you keep…..just in case…just in case you find their mates? How long do you keep them? Indefinitely?

Now I’m not promoting wastefulness or hastiness. Anyone who keeps a single sock for months or even years awaiting its mate must have the patience of a saint and the optimistic disposition of Pollyanna. But, truly, it’s ok to let the sock (or insert whatever it is that you hold onto) go.

Most of the time, our “socks” just take up space and add weight to us. But, that doesn’t mean we need to toss them out in every instance. Here are some guidelines that can help to know whether to hold onto something or not:

Item Size

Practically speaking, the more space an item takes up, the less likely I’d be to hold onto it. It’s just not worth the prime real estate in your physical and mental space.

Likelihood of use

In the sock example, unless a certain scenario happens (finding a mate), it is very unlikely you’ll use the sock again. Be realistic here. Hint: Using a word such as “maybe” is a red flag. “Maybe I’ll lose 30 pounds someday and will fit in these pants again”. OR “Maybe we’ll buy a light fixture down the road that would take this particular type of light bulb, so I’ll hold onto it”. If the realistic likelihood of use in the next year is low, let it go.

let it go in blocks


Hanging onto a $1 baby sock holding out hope for the other one? Even if the cost is higher than that, it’s a sunk cost. Hanging onto something won’t change that fact.

Outside Perspective

Run your scenario by a trusted person who has no vested interest whether something stays or goes. Ask for their perspective regarding whether your reason (or justification) for keeping a just in case item makes any sense. Of course, you make the final call. If you’re emotionally attached to your “sock”, it’s ok. Noone should guilt you into getting rid of something. But, we only have so much room in our homes (and accompanying mental space) for such things. You may be surprised by the freedom that comes with releasing them. Give it a try!