Yesterday I watched the show Anderson. It was only the second time I’ve ever seen the show and this one was about a mom and her hoarding issues. She was a regular mom with piles and piles and piles of stuff. I found it so interesting that she viewed her stuff with a similar love that you would have for a child. The idea of throwing something away for her hurt as if she was giving away her own flesh and blood. Those are some intense emotions for the things. I can imagine that to be just as overwhelming as all the stuff.
When Anderson showed this mom the video footage of her home, you could tell she was surprised. When Anderson asked about her reaction, she replied “this is the place I go to everyday for solace and that’s what I live with but I don’t always see it”. She then said “I see a ton of stuff with no where to put it. I use all of it”. Denial. She had enough piles of clothing in that house that even if she wore something different every day for a couple of years she still wouldn’t be using all of it. The Professional Organizer hired to help her found many many pieces of clothing with the tags still on.
And then I thought of another show I’ve been watching lately, the new one with Peter Walsh called Extreme Clutter. Over and over again Peter talks about the power stuff can have over our lives. We allow it to keep us from living in the present and truly living in the now. We allow the stuff to call the shots and push us around until we are “living” in a fraction of the house we own thinking we just don’t have enough space. The stuff holds us captive, and can be crippling. Then when we can’t take it anymore, rather than deal with it once and for all, we rent storage units and transfer the stuff to there just so we don’t have to think about it anymore.
Cluttered = procrastinated decisions
Do you know that North American’s spend over 20 billion a year on storage facilities? 20 BILLION DOLLARS! A YEAR! Wowsa, let’s let that sink in for a moment. I learned this staggering stat while watching yet another show called the Million Dollar Neighborhood, where a community in BC, Canada attempts to get out of debt. One couple had two storage units full of stuff that simply sat there collecting dust, they hadn’t used any of it in years. In all the years that they’d had these units the amount they paid for them was over 5 figures and yet they had no retirement fund to speak of. They’d never stopped to think about it, the stuff had that much pull over them. One of the show’s challenges was to have a huge community garage sale together. When it was all over it was so moving to watch how relieved families were to not to be burdened by their stuff anymore. And the couple with the two storage units were beyond ecstatic to have such a huge weight lifted off their shoulders. A weight they didn’t even know was there until it had been removed. Very emotional.
Recently I had to make some storage decisions in my own home. And while it was on a much smaller scale I did realize that the shelves my basket and bins “in waiting” were taking up could definitely be used for things I do use regularly. You’ll remember that just a couple of months ago I purged some baskets from this area but it was time to do it again. It was fine if I didn’t need the storage space but I do so the decision was made to part with even more of my baskets. You know how I love my baskets!!
My stash is almost next to nothing now. I’ve come a long way from my “container for my containers” days:
Do not be burdened by the stuff. Don’t give it more power than it deserves.
If you are having trouble making these decisions, please ask someone for help. Whether it be a friend, family member or professional, it’s amazing what happens when we try to explain out loud to someone else our reasoning for wanting to keep something. It might even be the first time you hear yourself say it and it can be very powerful. Try saying it to yourself in a mirror even.
While going through the list of challenge participants I loved what Elizabeth from Ready, Set, Simplify had to say. “Part of this project will be analyzing what happened and coming up with some solutions to prevent it from happening again”.
To do this, ask yourself some questions:
1. What am I hanging onto today that takes up valuable space that could be used for more needed purposes?
2. What am I allowing to rule my roost? Is the stuff calling all the shots?
3. What isn’t working? How can I make it better? Why do I want to make it better?
4. What is working? Why am I able to maintain these particular solutions and not others?
5. Am I trying to organize clutter to avoid making the tough decisions about my stuff?
6. Am I really seeing my clutter or am I in denial? Looking at pictures of your space really helps!
7. Do you have a storage unit? How long have you had it? Could you say what was in it? Is it worth it?
I would love to hear some of your answers!