Redefine Your Relationship to Your Stuff

Does your stuff tell the story of who you are?  Does your identity depend on your past accomplishments, memories from the past or stuff that is in your home and possibly taking up valuable real estate?  Does your clutter protect you from getting out, taking risks and living your life?

Identity With our Stuff

Books:  Textbooks from attending school in the past might speak to our intelligence. Books that we have read give us happy memories of wishes or dreams of how things could be. Books in general on our bookshelf show others that we are well read. Self help books not read offer us the promise of a future self who will have it all together once this book is read and the steps are followed.

Art Supplies: Do you see yourself as an amazing artist or a historian ie: scrapbooker but you just continue to acquire items as opposed to actually doing the projects

Attachments to Stuff 

Clothing:  Clothes that no longer fit or remind us of happier times we cannot let go of.  Or the hope for the future that we will lose/gain weight in order to fit into those clothes again.  

Baby Clothes:  Tiny baby items that reminds us of when our children were young.  That time is really so fleeting.  It goes by in a blink of the eye.  The memories are priceless and sometimes those cute little outfits are just too hard to let go of. 

Unfinished Projects:  If you look at the definition of clutter this is one of the things listed.  UFO’s (Unfinished Objects) can be about the dreams for the future.  “Someday……. I will fix this, finish this”.  If you have a plan to finish the project in a defined amount of time, great, otherwise it’s just clutter taking up space.  It is negative energy that reminds us of what we think we “should” be doing.  Don’t “should on yourself”. 

Sentimental Objects:  Memories from the past, items from family members that have passed and things that remind us of happier times can be some of the most difficult to let go of.  I am not saying to let go of everything. It becomes a problem when there is “too much”.  Perhaps you are in a position to choose the best of the best or just a few things to keep the memories.  Remember the memories of others are inside of you…..inside your heart.  

Relationship to our Stuff

Relationlships:  How does your clutter in general affect you?  Perhaps it feels very comforting and safe, like a little nest that you have created for yourself.  You have things around you that you love and this feels like your happy and safe place.  There is nothing wrong with this at all.  However……..sometimes we create a space where we know we don’t want others to come in.  This can be a way to keep relationships out of our lives.  When one has been hurt in a relationship it can feel pretty scary to think about letting a new person in. So it feels like our stuff can replace a relationship.  Our stuff is not going to hurt us like a relationship could. 

Gifts from others:  Gifts come with good intentions from others.  Once in our hands, it no longer belongs to the person who gave it to you.  It’s up to you to decide what you want to do with it.   If you don’t love it or use it, maybe it has served its purpose and it is time to let it go. 

Items we have spent a lot of money on:  I hear this a lot.  I paid so much money for that, I just can’t donate it.  It is worth a lot of money and I could get a little cash for it.  If you can do the Kijijji thing or other online avenues and it is worth your time and energy, I say go for it.  In my work I hear that a lot of individuals do not have access to a computer or the knowledge on how to do it.  You could always ask for help though.  

Can you see yourself with any of these attachments to your stuff?

I am sure there are a lot of other factors that contribute to our relationship with our stuff.  It can be very complex.  Please let me know your thoughts about how you relate to your stuff?  I always love to hear from you.  Happy Decluttering!!

Would you like more inspiration and motivation ideas from others?  Please join the Declutter Your Life and Mind Facebook Group at


About Kim

I’m Kim, your go-to Professional Organizer and Virtual Coach! I’m beyond excited to embark on this clutter-free adventure with you. With a background in mental health and a passion for transforming spaces, I bring a holistic approach to decluttering. It’s not just about neatening up physical spaces; it’s about fostering a mindset shift that radiates throughout your life. I founded Space For You Clear the Clutter, Heal Your Life and have been working with individuals and groups for about 15 years. I've also trained with Professional Organizers of Canada and the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.
This entry was posted in De-Clutter Your Life, decluttering, Emotional Clutter, goal setting, Inspiration, mental health and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Redefine Your Relationship to Your Stuff

  1. I definitely think that our stuff can take on significance beyond its purpose. Clothing is a great example. We want to keep the dress we were wearing when we got engaged, even though we will never wear it again. Knowing WHY we are keeping things helps us decide where to store it. We don’t need to keep it all to keep the memories to sustain our sense of self, but keeping a few in the right place can be meaningful.

    • Kimberley says:

      I love that first line Seana “Our stuff can take on a significance beyond its purpose”.You always have such wisdom. Thanks so much for your comment.

  2. I like your thoughts on gifts, especially “Once in our hands, it no longer belongs to the person who gave it to you.” So many times we are trapped into thinking we have some sort of an obligation to whoever gave the gift, when really it’s doing neither of us any good to be unused, forgotten, or worse…resented. Great post.

    • Kimberley says:

      Thank you Sara, Gifts are always a big topic of conversation in my work with clients. There can be so much guilt attached. I remember once having a friend over and she was admiring something on my front door. She had actually given it to me but did not remember. So there you go.

  3. Oh, you would have to start with books! If I got rid of the ones I keep for sentimental reasons but will likely never read again, I would clear up half a bookcase for sure.

    • Kimberley says:

      Ha you are funny Janet – yes, we love our books for sure. As long as they are not in the way, not falling off the shelf you are probably okay. It might be helpful to think about how those books make you feel though. Do you feel like “I should read that again” or “If I read that and follow the exercises, I will be able to……”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.