Could it be – that we have too much STUFF?

I’ve written a number of articles on how “clutter” creates a much more difficult environment in which to get rid of bed bugs; but the sense of discontent and fear for a hoarder, can send them both physically and mentally into an emotional tailspin.

Clean, well-organized people are often overwhelmed with just the thought of having to prepare for a treatment; face it, it is a lot of work, but when a hoarder is faced with the challenge the game changes. “Clean it up or give it away” comes through loud and clear often leads to the building of serious psychosomatic fear. The very thought of having to give away their exaggerated sense of protectiveness for these “precious possessions” creates an indeterminate state and traps them like a deer in headlights.

No one knows exactly why, but they just can’t let go. The true epiphanies usually don’t come until one attempts to prepare for the removal of bug that is biting daily. Meanwhile, they live with piles of useless things that create immense discontent.

In the past, I wrote about one particular woman that had record amounts of hats, purses and shoes that she had collected over many years, which overflowed in boxes and bags under and alongside of her bed. It got to the point when she was being bitten nightly but would not budge the items under her bed for the love of money. She expressed how much she has spent on these items and how valuable they were to her. In her exact words, they were “irreplaceable”. When I asked her when she last worn any of them or pulled these things out to clean, she answered, she didn’t remember, maybe six years or so. I cringed. Now, I am getting a huge vision here, I can only image, but have a clue what is going on under her bed.

After back-to-back phone calls like this from people who asked if they had to get rid of their “stuff”, I reached out to better understand the physiological attachment to these belongings. I can understand a couple heirlooms and artifacts that have deep meaning, but a collection of old “stuff”, I grappled.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Cory Chalmers, Owner of Steri-Clean Inc. Cory launched the series Hoarders, which depicts the real-life struggles and treatment of people who suffer from hoarding and was one of the most watched series on A&E for years. Daily, he and his crews deal with immense biohazard conditions and severe emotional struggles. He shared with me that many times on the show, in an effort to help his clients live a better physical and emotional life; the psychologists and clean-up crewmembers were shown to the door by the hoarder in refusal of any help. They just couldn’t let go.

Re-evaluating your material possessions

We live in a world where the vision of “more is better”. If one is good, ten must be better! Unfortunately, more always gets in the way. Now you need a bigger house with a bigger garage or another storage container. What happen to the days when good enough was good enough?

Modern day kitchen gadgets took the place of a knife and a little time. Conveniences, immediate satisfaction and things to make others think we are more than we are, fill store shelves. Even with all these “conveniences”, we still have little time to enjoy our families. Weekends are filled with, “We have to clean the garage”.

How many times have you walked into a store and saw something so cool that you just had to have, and purchased it? Where is that item now? Crammed in a drawer, in storage, in a closet? When is the last time you found the need to use it or use it for entertainment? Exactly my point!

When my kids and I moved from what I call “the big house” to a smaller home on the oceanfront, we had no choice but to scale down. We sat and went through “stuff” that we just “had to have” and believe me; my kids didn’t suffer from not ever having enough, I asked the question, “Do we need, want or desire this?”

When you look at items that way, you find that there really is very little that we actually really “need”. Does one need fifty pairs of pants, twenty pairs of shoes or sixty T-shirts in every color? How many jackets does one need?

More than half of what we humans have hung on a hanger are collecting dust and not worn for years. Women, how about that pre-pregnant “size eight” dress that you were holding onto to fit back into one day? Men, what about those pants with size 34 waist those are crammed between another dozen or so things that don’t fit you since you took up drinking beer?

I placed many items into boxes and would review the contents a week or so later. Before I was done, I had reduced the box to half of what it was originally. My kids did the same and I saw them piling their “stuff” for give-a-ways, donations and rubbish.

I often tell women to think about how much time it takes them to clean a house that has lots of “stuff”. Women tell me that they have to go in and “organize” rooms, which takes hours of their time. I’ve received calls back from women that I spoke to that went through their items and reduced them only to be told that it freed them up from having to organize or move them here and there and it takes them less time to clean their homes and more time for their families.

Now is everyone going to do this, probably not, but if you have an hour here and there, grab up a box of your “stuff”, go through it and delete the things that hold you back and think about buying only what you actually need which helps eliminate excessive debt and you can put more into savings or retirement.

Two significant contributors to depression and anxiety are financial hardship and stress so ask yourself, have you over-accumulation “stuff” and how much time do you have to work to pay the bills for this stuff?

I read somewhere that hoarding is the “endowment effect on steroids” and there is a wide spectrum of over-accumulation. We own more things than we need or can possibly care for, and cannot park our cars in the garage because it is filled with things that don’t fit in the house.

I ask myself when I am about to purchase something, “Do I need, want or desire this – will I actually “use” this item up – and is this going to bring me closer or further to my goals?” I don’t know about you, but at this time in my life, I want to focus more on living with less “stuff” and focus more on building a more meaningful life and spend time with those I love. I want that freedom of choice every day of my life from now on.

When it comes down to the nitty gritty, all the “superfluous wants and must haves” don’t make up the person. No material possession really has any meaning; they only fill your ego or deplete your pocketbook.

Here to help!

Denise Donovan

www.ibbra.org