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23 June 2017

Lose not, want not – how our brains handle loss and protection

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Protect your memories

Take pre-emptive steps to protect your memories by taking photos of your important items, for safe-keeping.

  1. 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.

  1. 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 Home and Contents Insurance – save 30% on combined policies online (first year’s base premium only). T&Cs apply – see disclaimer below.

Find out all you need to know about ING's Insurance.

ING Home and Contents Insurance is issued by Auto & General Insurance Company Ltd ABN 42 111 586 353 AFSL 285571 as insurer. It is distributed by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd ABN 61 003 617 909 AFSL 241411 (AGS) and by ING Bank (Australia) Ltd ABN 24 000 893 292 as Authorised Representative 1247634 of AGS. ING is a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Ltd (ING).


ING will receive a commission from AGS for each policy purchased which is a percentage of the premium. For further details see the Financial Services Guide.

An ING Insurance policy issued does not represent a deposit with or liability of, and is not guaranteed or otherwise supported by, ING or its related bodies corporate.

ING Home & Contents Insurance is subject to AGS ‘ underwriting criteria and ING’s Customer Eligibility and Name-Screening Assessment. Home & Contents Insurance is not available in NT, North QLD or Northern WA.


This is general information only, and does not take into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you having regard to these factors before acting on it. Conditions, limits/sub-limits, waiting periods, exclusions and excesses apply.  Read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Target Market Determination, Key Fact Sheets, Financial Services Guide and the ING Customer Eligibility and Name-Screening document and consider if an ING Home & Contents Insurance product is right for you before deciding to purchase or continue to hold the product.

The price we quote is at the insurer’s sole and unrestricted discretion. It is based on the profile of the risk to be covered and any other factors the insurer may choose. These factors may change at any time without notice, as may the prices. If the policy renews, the price may exceed the price paid for the previous policy. Premiums are subject to change. You will be responsible for all applicable GST and other statutory charges.


DISCOUNTS: Discount applies to the first year’s premium paid for a new ING Home & Contents Insurance policy obtained online for approved applicants only. Discounts do not apply to any renewal offer of insurance. Discounts are applied before government charges, taxes, levies and fees, including instalment processing fees (as applicable). The full extent of discounts may therefore be impacted. We reserve the right to change the offer without notice. The discount applies accordingly:


ING Home and Contents Insurance:  30% discount on combined Home & Contents Insurance, 15% for Home only or Contents only policies.

The information is current as at publication. Any advice on this website does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs and you should consider whether it is appropriate for you. Deposit products, savings products, credit card and home loan products are issued by ING, a business name of ING Bank (Australia) Limited ABN 24 000 893 292, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 229823. Living Super, a sub-plan of OneSuper ABN 43 905 581 638 is issued by Diversa Trustees Limited ABN 49 006 421 638, AFSL 235153 RSE L0000635. The insurance cover offered by Living Super is provided by Metlife Insurance Limited ABN 75 004 274 882, AFSL 238096. ING Insurance is issued by Auto & General Insurance Company Limited (AGIC) ABN 42 111 586 353 AFSL Licence No 285571 as insurer. It is distributed by Auto & General Services Pty Ltd (AGS) ABN 61 003 617 909 AFSL 241411 and by ING as an Authorised Representative AR 1247634 of AGS. All applications for credit are subject to ING's credit approval criteria, and fees and charges apply. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, Terms and Conditions, Fees and Limits Schedule, Financial Services Guide, Key Facts Sheet and Credit Guide available at when deciding whether to acquire, or to continue to hold, a product. Before interacting with us via our social media platforms, please take a minute to familiarise yourself with our Social Media User Terms

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