Have you ever tried to let go of something that you knew deep down you didn't want anymore, but before you even get the chance to put it into a donation pile, a little voice inside your head convinces you to put it back?
I can't get rid of that...
I know the feeling, and many other women do too.
Maybe it's a gift from a loved one. Perhaps it's something you've been storing for a friend or family member until they get a bigger place. Or, it could even be the belongings of a relative who has passed away.
What do all of these situations have in common?
They all involve other people's stuff. Other people's stuff that's now become an obstacle to decluttering your space.
And, if you've been hanging out on my blog for a while, you know that decluttering your space is not just about making things pretty although that is often a wonderful side effect.
No. Decluttering your space is really about taking ownership of your space. Whatever that space might be, and whatever your desired outcome might look like.
You could be the only minimalist in a family of five, and your personal space might be a closet.
Or, you could have a house to yourself and decide to dedicate an entire room just to your stuffed animals. It doesn't matter. It's your space, and you are the one who has to live in it.
You don't have to keep the scarf that your friend made you if it's not your taste and you never wear it. There's a good chance it's leaking your energy if the only feeling it gives you is guilt. It doesn't matter that you have a ton of room in your closet.
My friend made me that scarf with her own hands. I can't just throw it away; it's sentimental, right?! What if she comes by and notices it's not here?
You're not obligated to store your adult son's boxes in the basement until he decides he wants them again if you don't want the responsibility of housing them anymore. It doesn't matter if your basement is otherwise empty.
He’s still figuring things out, at some point he'll want his stuff back. I should be supportive and just let him keep his stuff here. After all, I have space. If I asked him to move it out, I'd seem like a jerk.
And you don't need to hold onto everything, or even anything, that your parent once owned now that they're gone. It doesn't matter how much they cherished any of it; they are not and never will be their stuff. You don't have to hold onto anything that doesn’t feel right.
If I were a good daughter, I'd want to hold onto my parent's stuff. I'm just going to hold onto it until I find the time to go through it properly. Surely I'll find myself with a spare year out of my life to wrap my head around everything and show it the proper respect (whatever that means).
If these examples seem harsh, it's because they are. And yet, so many of the women who come to me for help are struggling with these kinds of situations.
Lots of women feel the weight of other people's stuff being in their space. It has nothing to do with the amount of space that they have; though they may be struggling with that, too. Life may be pushing them to confront these scenarios because they've finally run out of space - but it's really about the mental, emotional cost.
And what it boils down to is a violation of their boundaries.
Boundaries: where you begin, and another person ends.
Many of us, as women, are naturally oriented to relationships. And, we have long been enduring stifling complications of living in a patriarchal society. Many of us struggle with knowing where we begin, and another person ends. We struggle with our boundaries, and it shows up in our spaces.
I believe that taking ownership of your space presents a practical opportunity to examine your boundaries.
Boundaries are not something that are easily thought through, or rationalized. Our programming can quickly get in our way, hence the voices in our heads that pop up to tell us what a bad friend/mother/daughter we are for not offering up our physical, emotional, mental space so freely.
Instead, I've found that our emotions provide the navigation system for our boundaries.
If you're feeling bad that you'll never wear the scarf;
If you're feeling itchy about someone else's boxes in your basement;
If you feel like you need to dedicate time that you don't have to address your deceased loved one's belongings until you can live your life again;
It's okay to surrender to those emotions. In fact, it's healthy to surrender to those emotions. Let them flow through you. It means you’re recognizing your boundaries.
It doesn't mean you have a free pass to be a jerk about it. It doesn't mean you now have a green light to impulsively throw things out without communicating with others who might be involved.
It means that you are empowered to set your stance and take ownership of your space.
And once you set boundaries in your space, before long, you start setting boundaries in other areas as well.
When you take ownership of your space, you create the support system you need to live your best life.
With Love + Gratitude,