You’re belongings. Do you own them or do they own you? Where do you begin and you’re belongings end?
I’ve talked about our relationship to our belongings in other blog posts. This month I’d like to take another look at belongings and go over how to set boundaries with them. Setting boundaries can be very helpful in keeping the clutter out of your life AND also help you stay closer to your intentions and values.
Boundaries and your Belongings
Taking the time to reflect on your relationships, work and your life, is a common way to stay connected to yourself and life purpose. Setting boundaries is part of this and it’s easy to find information on boundaries these areas of ones life, however, there isn’t much out there on creating boundaries with your belongings.
It’s very easy to accumulate items over time, especially if you are not taking the time to:
a) let go of items regularly and
b) don’t have any boundaries around accumulating new items.
This means not only cluttered spaces but also a cluttered mind and spirit and even relationships. I know for myself that it’s been an enlightening process and has helped me not only set better boundaries with my belongings but also with others.
Setting out parameters for when you go shopping, how much you plan on spending or when to let go of items is key to creating a foundation. When we are in relationships with others, we think about what we are willing to accept and not accept. For example, not accepting that someone is more than 15 minutes late.
Doing the same around your belongings is just as important.
Knowing what you have and what you use is a great first step in creating boundaries. It’s also a way to gain awareness and see where you can strengthen the limits that you want to create around your belongings. If you are not setting boundaries with your belongings, it can be a chance to see where you are not setting boundaries in other areas of your life. It can also give you insight into you beliefs that may be affecting your ability to set healthy boundaries. For example, often when I work with clients, a common comment is that if they let go of an item that someone gave them, they are fearful that the person will be upset with them.
What boundaries do you need to set around your belongings?
There are different types of boundaries that affect your boundaries with your belongings, here are some:
Money: This looks like not having a budget and then accumulating too many things that you don’t need
Retail therapy: Going shopping when you are feeling emotional instead of using other tools to cope with your distress.
Saying no: People giving you things that they are letting go of and you feel bad to say no. Or accepting gifts from people when you don’t want them.
Emotional – Keeping items from past relationships and holding onto the relationship emotionally through the item(s). This causes a blurring of boundaries where a previous relationship ended and a new relationship began and the old one affects the new one.
Reusing items: Keeping things to be sustainable yet you don’t have a specific purpose or timeframe to use it.
When we don’t take the time to assess our relationship to our belongings we are missing an opportunity to address patterns that go beyond our belongings.
What you Can Do
Set intentions of what you want in your life. Remember to be clear with what you want and what your values are.
Pick one area to focus on at a time and be sure that you have help, a good chunk of time and a clear space to work in. For example, if you are starting with clothing, you can use your bed to sort all of your items.
Once you finish sorting, review your intentions and go through one item at a time to see what you want to keep and what you are ready to let go of.
It’s very important to refer to your intentions during this process because those are the boundaries you’ve created that will help you decide what to keep and what to let go of. During this step it’s helpful to take note of what’s coming up for you, a sense of guilt, sadness, etc. and so you can address it later.
Find a place to zone your items. This means choosing one location where you would access similar items. It also means that you are not cramming items into a space. What also helps is having items in sets, colour coding and staying away from stacking items.
The most important part of getting organized is changing your habits, beliefs and creating boundaries. When you take the time at the beginning of the process to set boundaries for what you want in your life, it not only helps you let go of items, it also helps you from bringing in new items and having the clutter come back.
Make a list of the boundaries you want to create with you items. Here are some suggestions to help you get started.
Set boundaries with:
Number of items you want
Record your clear simple boundaries in a journal or create a visual so that you can reference it regularly and integrate your new way of connecting to your belongings.
All of these suggestions are connected to your relationship to your belongings and how the clutter can creep back after decluttering. If you create clear boundaries around all of the behaviours and habits connected to your belongings, not only will you have an organized space, you will also feel lighter, more focused and present.