‘Porous’ Boundaries

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Personal Boundaries are the limits and rules we set for what we share of ourselves within different types of relationships. 

Those of us who struggle with clutter often have either ‘Porous’ or ‘Rigid’ boundaries. 

  • Porous – we’re too involved with other people and their lives; we feel the need to please other people; we struggle to say no to other people.
  • Rigid – we keep a distance from other people.

The SMART BOUNDARIES concept helps understand if we have porous or rigid boundaries and help us start putting healthy boundaries in place. 

This concept was created by Dr. Jillian Roberts, child psychologist. The original Smart Boundaries concept consists of 4 circles, one inside each other. I’ve added 2 more circles for us as adults.

  • The SELF is you. Imagine your Wheel of Life in this middle circle. It represents your comfort zone of safety and security, your needs, priorities and LIFE GOALS.
  • SIGNIFICANT OTHER is whoever you are most vulnerable with – the person or pet that you share your hopes and fears with. For Clare her signficant other when she had her clutter was her cat (!)
  • FAMIILY is where people who love you unconditionally sit. These are the people who will always protect, respect and nurture one another. They may not be blood relatives.
  • FRIENDS are people who you have a bond with and care about.
  • The IN-PERSON COMMUNITY are colleagues, volunteering, extended family, neighbours etc.
  • The ONLINE circle is potentially 5 billion people who we don’t ever meet IN PERSON.

We will have different limits and rules for our relationships with people in the different circles, eg: 

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual / Religious / Beliefs
  • Mental
  • Time 
  • Material
  • Financial
  • Non-negotiable Boundaries


  1. Clarify your needs, priorities and LIFE goals for the ‘self’ circle in the middle by doing your Wheel of Life Review, then add to the table below
  2. Make a list of WHO is currently in each circle NOW in the table below
  3. In a notebook, list what boundaries you CURRENTLY have for the different types of people in each circle 
  4. List WHO you want to have in each circle, using the table below
  5. Define what each type of boundaries WILL BE between the people in each circle i.e. what you WILL and WON’T accept, using the table below
  6. Decide how you’re going to PROTECT each boundary so you can meet the needs of each circle and most importantly YOUR NEEDS in the SELF circle in the middle 
  7. e.g. saying ‘not right now’ to people, turning off your mobile / cell phone when you’re doing something that’s important to YOU
  8. Share your new boundary – what you will accept and expect – with your Significant Other, Family and Friends.

To find out how to a Wheel of Life review, and to get access to a template that will enable you to follow these 7 steps more easily, you can become a Clutter Clearing LITE Member and get access to all the resources in Clare’s Private Facebook Group – her VIP Circle here: https://www.clutterclearing.net/lite-membership/

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