As we were packing for our move, we were incredibly discriminating about what items we’d bring with us and which ones we no longer loved, needed, or used.

Because we hate the idea of using precious box or truck space on items we’re not sure we want, we took the time to go through everything before packing as long as my attention span and energy levels allowed.

Well, here we are, less than one month later, and as we are unpacking our books in the office, we end up with a donation box of about 30 of them!

How the heck were these important enough to get loaded into the truck, but only a few weeks later, insignificant enough to be put in a donation box?

Because our relationship to our belongings can change daily.

Lots of factors can contribute to this, such as:

  • the mindset you’re in at any given time
  • how vulnerable you’re feeling
  • the space you have available to store them
  • your boundary-setting abilities, and
  • how much you trust yourself

Are you scratching your head wondering what the heck vulnerability and boundaries have to do with whether you keep an item or not?

Let me explain.

Looking back to when I was packing up those books, I remember thinking things like:

  • “When I have more space to display these books, I’m going to read all the time.”
  • “My mom gave me this book. I can’t get rid of it.”
  • “Ooh, I’ve been meaning to read this book. I bet this one will help me eat better.”
  • “This was such a good book. I might want to read it again.”
  • “Why do I have two copies of this title? I’ll think of someone to gift it to.”

Ah, books. They can hold such promise.

Doesn’t that all sound so reasonable and well-intentioned?

Here’s the reality:

  • A lack of space isn’t what was stopping me from reading. It was a desire to zone out to TV.
  • My mother would be completely fine with me donating that book, but the story I tell myself is that I’d be ungrateful and unloving if I did.
  • That book isn’t the missing link to my dietary changes — my commitment and action are.
  • Sure, that was a great book, but I have several more I’d like to read. The chances of me re-reading this one is slim to none.
  • Yes, I can gift that second copy to someone — someone like the thrift store!

Prior to the move, the stories I made up about the books allowed me to hold on to familiar items as a way to feel less uncomfortable with the forthcoming change. And they served their purpose.

Once we moved and I settled into our new home, my confidence and clarity returned making it much easier to let them go.

When you’re feeling shaky on your feet, you’re much more likely to hold onto things, thoughts, and relationships that no longer serve you well because change is scary on any given day, let alone when you’re not feeling your most secure.

It may take you a few rounds of looking at the same items before you decide to finally let some go. That’s okay.

When you struggle to clear clutter, it’s almost never about the item. It’s about the story you tell yourself about it. And that story rewrites itself often. And those stories are penned by the secrets in your stuff — the limiting beliefs, the lack of boundaries, and the unrealistic expectations.

So cut yourself some slack. If you’re fed up with clearing clutter, step away and come back to it another day. You might be surprised at how easily you can make a different choice and wonder why you ever struggle at all.