Did you know that aimless clutter turns into hoarding fast? Without moderation and boundaries, aimless activity of any sort encourages tiny bad choices. Small errors in judgment repeated over time accumulate.
We all have clutter and need to get rid of it, and when you are aware of it, you have choices. And to stay aware, we use the 10-pound rule of self-discipline to set boundaries on how much stuff to have.
If you have the alertness to clutter, you can manage your relationship to stuff.
I Used to Be an Aimless Eater
When I was 18 years old, I moved away from home. The first thing I did was discover the world of ice cream, French fries, and a bunch of other stuff we didn’t have as kids.
I grew up on a farm where snacks consisted of apricots and apples and cucumbers from the garden. Those are all foods that don’t add a lot of weight. But when I moved out on my own, I discovered sugar and salt, and it became a huge staple of my diet.
I knew it was bad for me, but I said, “It’s just a Krispy Kreme donut, it’s not going to hurt me this one time.”
So, I ate it, and like I thought it did not hurt me that one time. Then I ate it again, and it didn’t hurt me a second time either. And I ate some French fries and they did not hurt me either. “So, see,” I told myself, “I’m okay if I eat this stuff.”
But what I did not pay attention to was my small error in judgment. And a small error built on top of another small error over a period of time creates something chaotic.
My Family Noticed I Was Gaining Weight
I went home to visit my family after six months. When I left home, I was 125 pounds – a perfect weight for my height. But when I visited home, I was 186 pounds. I had gained 61 pounds in six months.
My family looked at me, and they were like, “Whoa! What just happened?” And I said, “Whoa, what do you mean?”
My Errors In Judgment Piled Up
Well, I had been looking at myself every day in the mirror as I was doing my hair and putting on my makeup. And the changes were so slight that I didn’t actually notice the difference. But my family hadn’t seen me in six months, so they were super aware that I had let myself go.
So, when I came back from that trip home, I was sad and so, hurt by the comments about my weight.
But then I realized: I have a choice, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life going up and down in weight. So, I created a boundary.
I Created Boundaries Against Random Calories
I decided to get back down to my perfect weight, which was 125 pounds, and never go 10 pounds over or under that weight. That way, I can still have the French fries and ice cream and other foods I enjoy.
But if I start to get close to that 10-pound window, I’ve got to rein it back in. I’ve got to have some control and some personal boundaries.
Because if you’re not paying attention, those small errors pile on top of each other. They build until, before you realize, you’re in a situation that’s difficult to control.
Aimless Clutter Isn’t Harmless Clutter
So, when it comes to clutter, what are personal boundaries, and how do you set some? Well, you might be thinking it’s okay if you come into the house and you put all your mail on your kitchen counter. That’s okay, right?
One time, it’s not going to hurt you. Two times, it’s not going to hurt you. Three times, it’s not going to hurt you. But if you do it every day for 365 days, you’re going to have a great big pile of mail spilling off the kitchen counter.
You’re going to have bills that will go into late payments because you haven’t addressed them yet. And it’s going to have this weird domino effect that leads to excess clutter and overdraft charges. It creates a whole bunch of different outcomes than the ones that we expect.
Avoid Aimless Clutter in Your Life
So, we need to create boundaries for our stuff, like when I said I’m never going 10 pounds above or below. If I bring the mail in, and I put it on the cupboard, it never goes there for longer than two days.
Two days is like the 10-pound window. We don’t want to overextend ourselves by continuing to let stuff pile up.
Make Rules for Your Clutter
We can put a 10-pound window on a bunch of different things. If I go to the store and I buy something, I have to get rid of something so that I’m still in that same 10-pound window.
For me with my weight, that meant it’s okay if I eat this, but I need to burn off X number of calories so I can maintain my goal. Or, I’m going to have to say no to eating that because I didn’t exercise, and I need to stay inside that weight.
The cool part of it is that about 30 years have passed, and I’ve stayed in that same 10-pound window. There are times when life gets complicated, and I either don’t eat or I overeat. But as long as I’m in that 10-pound window, I can have control.
Know the Limits for Your Stuff
So, I want for us to look at our lives the same way. If we don’t have limits, the small errors in judgment add up and create overwhelming clutter.
It’s hard to let go of clutter. It doesn’t feel like we’re ever going to get rid of it, right? So, I want us to stop for just a second and say, “When I have so much stuff, at what point is my 10-pound window?”
What’s Your Limit?
There’s got to be a limit for the things that we have. How much stuff can be in the car? How much stuff can be in the bedroom? How much stuff can be on the bed? How much stuff can be in the closet?
We have to start creating those boundaries. Once we have those boundaries, then as we start getting close to our limit, we get rid of or donate something.
The Key is to Be Aware
The secret to the 10lb. rule game is to constantly be aware. What are your limits? And are you close to your limits? Limits with food, with clothes, with books, with makeup, with jewelry, with nail polish, and with dishes. I want you to have stuff that’s useful to you.
What I don’t want is for you to get in a place where you’re just drifting without focus. You may be eating or buying all this cool fun stuff, because in your head, it makes you feel happy, right?
Every Choice Has Consequences
The food also made me happy. But it also made me feel lethargic, and it made me gain weight. There were a ton of other side effects that came along with the donuts besides the joy I got when I ate it.
Have Your Stuff in Moderation
But I discovered that if I eat a lot less of that stuff, I can still enjoy it and have fun, but with moderation.
I want us to have some boundaries and limits so as we go through our stuff, we can create a new relationship to it. We can serve the longevity of our home, health and happiness so everything runs well with new limits.
I hope that helps a little bit. Just food for thought. We have a group called Hoarding World on Facebook, and I’m inviting you to come over and join us. We believe that anyone can change their relationship with stuff. Until we meet again, I’ll be supporting you in your journey.
Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hoardingworld
Reclaim Your Life From Hoarding: Practical Strategies for Decluttering Your Home – https://amzn.to/35R1zIU
Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things – https://amzn.to/2SXEeme
Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding – https://amzn.to/364zyxT
Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Therapist Guide – https://amzn.to/3jdbUqn
Treatment for Hoarding Disorder: Workbook – https://amzn.to/3wUQse7