My wardrobe is not the biggest in the world, but it is sure well over its capacity. Some of the clothes in it have been in there for over the last decade, some have only been worn once, others never. Let’s not even start with the shoes and bags! I feel guilty each time I bring a new item into the ‘collection’. If all my items were alive, I am sure I would have had to answer to some authority (thank goodness they’re not). Lots of people around the world have one time or the other felt this way, it might be right now as you are reading this article, or last year. But what did you do when you felt this way; did you ignore it, or in the words of my friend, did you give in to the voice saying, ‘you never know when these may come in handy? Perhaps you had a huge quarrel with someone because they called you the ‘H- word’, HOARDER.
The first time I encountered this word I was quite certain it did not apply to me, I mean how could it? There was just something negative about that word; this moral and medical element about it. I had weirdly connected ‘hoarding’ with another word ‘kleptomaniac’, I know it doesn’t really make sense why I made that connection, but I would tell you why. Hoarding refers to the accumulation of items, while Kleptomaniacs are those who take anything they see (in simple terms). So the connection I used to make was that hoarders become that way because they were Kleptomaniacs and were therefore bad, ill people. Hence, why I felt I couldn’t be a hoarder. Of course, two things were faulty with this thinking; one, I obviously didn’t understand the difference between Kleptomaniacs and Hoarders. Two, I had succeeded in logically excluding myself from a class of people I genuinely felt did not define me. Therein lay the problem- I was in denial.
For many hoarders, they only start feeling guilty when their wardrobes won’t shut, or when they cannot find the space to keep new items. Others have to be verbally assaulted by loved ones to get the message. The only way to ‘un-guilt’ is to admit you have a problem. Acceptance is the key to de-cluttering. What are you accepting though? That you have too many items or that there is something wrong with ‘the self’ that has these items? You guessed right, the latter. Only through self analyses can you understand why you have so many items. You can ask yourself, ‘when was the last time I went shopping? Did I really need to buy this item? How often have I used this item?’ The best way to overcome a habit is to question the habit. Many impulse buyers are often held captive to the lure to buy what they don’t need. What if you naturally think through anything you purchase, does this mean you cannot be a hoarder?
I looked up the origins of the word Hoarder and I was surprised with the search, it comes from a word that means to ‘treasure, valuable stock or store’. So the notion of this word comes along with it a connotation of ‘subjective priceless value’. In other words, it is possible for someone in a few years or month to acquire a skyscraper of items, provided it is of value to the person, regardless of whether it was pre-thought or not.
Is it possible for everything a hoarder has to be objectively valuable? How can a hoarder sieve through what is valuable and what isn’t when deciding what should be thrown away and what shouldn’t? To overcome this nature the first thing is to under-value the items held in esteem (this has to be the harshest thing I have ever said, but it is for the best). See things for what they are, not from your mind’s eye. Honestly, those items are tired of not being used, they want a new home, don’t deceive yourself that someday you will use them, you wouldn’t- You know it. Where is the time to wear all those dresses, to wear all those shoes, to clean all those items drenched in dust and cobwebs? Did I hear you say antique? Did I hear you say you are saving it for the next generation? Seriously, that’s your mind at work, rationalizing again. Try to rationalize differently- base it on fact not on untruth. Have/Can you really use all of these items regularly in the next year? To be fair, did you succeed in doing this in the last six months? You know the answer don’t you?
De-cluttering is hard work; I would advise anyone who intends to do this to set realistic goals, by sorting out all the items in stages. The hardest part about de-cluttering is not the physical work, it is the emotional task of ‘detachment’. Some items might have been given to us by people we love/d; thus each item is like a strand of memory. Think about it, if you have so many memories lying around your house or bedroom can you form fresh ones freely? At times, we just have to let go and move on. To de-clutter, the hoarder needs to detach any memory and stick to the goal in the list. One of the best ways of doing this is to use a time-plan. You could say, ‘I plan to take out any item I haven’t used in the last 6 months or 2 years’ (this all depends on the rate of acquisition) then take out any item that doesn’t fall in the list. Try and avoid making exceptions. The meaner and dispassionate you are toward the items the better you would be at de-cluttering.
Don’t get anyone to do this work for you (if you can manage). With a good plan you can succeed!
Today I look at my wardrobe and I smile. It not only shuts, but it makes a bang when I slam its doors. For the first time in years I notice its beautiful mahogany color, and even its inner mirror! Looking at this mirror, I see a happy sweaty faced girl looking at all the black bags around her, preparing to send them to where they would be needed. She doesn’t feel guilty anymore- her space is de-cluttered and so is her head, those cherished memories are settled where they belong.
*** The above article is not a professional manual for overcoming the psychological disorder of Compulsive Hoarding. It is only a mini-guide on dealing with the social problem of de-cluttering. The word ‘Hoarding’ was not intended to label or cause any form of anxiety.
Have you felt this way before, what did you do? Give us suggestions on more de-cluttering techniques .Feel free to LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE. And if you enjoy my write ups hit the ‘follow’ tab to receive updates on latest posts.