Karyn Ellis, M.A., L.M.H.C.

Hoarding and how to Declutter

Moving is a never-ending process. I have been sorting through items that have been piling up for for years and asking myself, 'why the heck have we been keeping this.' I started watching the TV documentary Hoarders while I packed as inspiration to declutter. I have always suspected a few people in my family were being hoarders, but our recent move made me realize how much my husband and I have accumulated. So I turn on Netflix while putting stuff into boxes--it helps me focus on the true value of our things.

Without fail, the TV show mentions every episode that the memory is not in the object. People can:

  1. Fill emotional voids with shopping or 'the great hunt' for the perfect item or buying unnecessary stuff just because it's on a super sale.
  2. Keep items and not able to donate/discard items because of an emotional attachment or memory associated with it.

Filling Voids

People can feel like they need to fill voids for numerous reasons:

  1. Grief: losing someone they care about and not being able to move on
  2. Lack of resources as a child: they never had much growing up and compensate in adulthood
  3. No emotional connection: growing up they never had anyone to attach to or someone to relate to them on an emotional level.

Keeping Stuff

Usually we keep things because they serve a purpose, have meaning or have value. Sometimes it can be hard discarding things because:

  1. We think that they may have a use in the future:'eventually I will use this."
  2. Someone we cared about gave the item(s) to them
  3. The item(s) are associated with a positive or joyful memory or a person (see my post about Buttons). In my process of discarding (mainly donating items) I would ask myself several questions:

  4. How long ago was the last time I used this?

  5. Is it still in good condition (does it have holes? Is it broken in any way)?
  6. How much does the item mean to me? We all have things that are of value that we can't bring ourselves to let go of because of a memory associated with it or because of the person who gave it to us. If you are realizing that you are holding on to things because you are still grieving, shopping to fill a void due to lack of emotional connection or because the memory connection is so strong, it would be a good time to seek counseling.

And if you just need a bit of encouragement to declutter, check out Hoarders on Netflix