By Published On: October 27, 20217.6 min readCategories: Finance Therapy, Home and Lifestyle, Uncategorized

Material items have a way of holding on to us, and we have a way of clinging onto them.

I’ve been working with people for years who are trying to let go of not only emotional weight but also material things so that they can move forward in life. Sometimes these things are physical, sometimes it’s money or relationships, but the principle is the same.

We all have clutter. Some of us are too afraid to admit it, others don’t care enough.

Either way, it’s there and most people would agree that less is more. But what about the things we keep because they remind us of something? What if you’re keeping them because they represent a time in your life when you thought that everything was perfect?

Well, I say let go. Why torture yourself. Let go of those memories that are holding you back from living today with love and gratitude for all that you have accomplished. Let go so that someone else can enjoy the same happiness as you once did; think of releasing things as an act of sharing and gratitude. Let someone make their own memories.

Hoarding is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. There are many levels to this.

I’m sure you know someone who hoards.

Maybe it is you.

Hoarding is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. There are many levels to this. 

Maybe it’s your mother, or a friend, or an old classmate from high school. We all have that one person in our lives who can’t seem to part with anything – not the clothes they never wear, not the toys they don’t play with anymore, and definitely not the things they bought but never used. It may be hard to understand why people hoard objects even if we’ve seen them out of control on reality TV shows like “Hoarders” and “Clean Sweep.” But there is something about picking up a new item at a store and feeling so excited for what might happen when we get home that makes us want more than just one thing. When we feel this way over and over, it can result in overspending and hoarding.

There is a reason why we hoard. We don’t want to let go, and we will do anything to protect our things.

But the question remains: what are you protecting?

What’s worth holding on for?

I’m not talking about that pile of clothes in your closet or those old magazines under your bed–I mean that one thing you can’t seem to discard because it has some kind of emotional connection.

It may be time to take a step back and ask yourself if these memories really belong with objects, or if they’re better off left as stories shared over dinner with friends.

Hoarding is a coping mechanism that people use to lessen the pain of their past.

The more you have, the less you feel. It happens with food, too. This is the start of overeating and weight gain. It also happens with “things”.

When we fill our homes with things, it’s easy to ignore what might be going on in our heads and hearts. 

We are conditioned to think that it is a sign of laziness or poor living habits, but that’s not the case normally.

There are three signs you might be hoarding.

These signs include an inability to let go of items, difficulty in organizing your home, and feeling anxious when attempting to clear your space. Let’s discuss them.

Inability to Let Go of Items

It’s hard to let go of items that you spent a lot of money on. You want to show them off and use them as much as possible, but the problem is they may not be working for you anymore. It could be because your personal style has changed or maybe it just doesn’t fit well anymore. Whatever the reason, here are some tips to help you let go:
1) Make sure it is worth keeping – if it isn’t something you would wear again then get rid of it! If it costs too much money then try selling it online or donating instead of throwing away.

2) Think about what makes you hold onto things – do these reasons apply? Do I feel guilty about getting rid of this item? Am I really holding onto a memory or the past?

When you’re in the process of decluttering your home, car, or office, it can be difficult to let go of items that once meant so much. Even if they no longer serve a purpose in your life, eliminating them can feel like losing part of yourself or a relationship that you once treasured. But letting go is necessary for personal growth and happiness.

Difficulty in Organizing Your Home

How do you feel when your home is a mess? When the dishes are piled in the sink, clothes are strewn about and mail is piling up.-does it make you feel overwhelmed or stressed out? I know this feeling all too well. In our society, we’re taught that if our homes look good on the outside then we’ll be happy on the inside. 

There is a lot of pressure to be organized and have everything in order, but so many times we can feel overwhelmed with all the work it takes. Sometimes we need to take a break from thinking about how messy our home might be or what needs to get done. The problem with this anxiety around organization tasks is that it may lead to procrastination where nothing gets done, or at best, the bare minimum – or it might go the other way and you become a “clean freak’, which is also unhealthy.

Focus on being comfortable with imperfection and striving to tackle small projects. Do not start with an entire room, begin with a drawer or closet.

Anxiety in Getting Rid of Things

What if we all just stopped right now and gave up a memento. Would we suddenly be less of a person? No.  
This is the question I ask myself when I feel like my anxiety about letting go of things has reached its peak.

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to hold onto and what not to, but it seems like this simple sentence can help me decide.

What do you value in your life?

If you don’t know where to start, here are some questions that might help: What gives you joy? Who are the people who make your life better? What makes you happy? How have these things changed over time? When did they change or stop making an impact on your life? And so on… The point is that there should be logic and reasoning around what you feel and what you have. 

For me personally, I’ve had to discard some items that belonged to my late mother. Those items seemed to keep her alive, and I felt that the memories in those items would be lost. The trigger of seeing the items was always comforting in some way. I still own a few items that others might consider clutter but for me, it is worthwhile to own. This is what you need to factor in as well. As long as you negotiate the “things” you own, you’ll be less apt to feel sacrifice when you do get rid of some items as you’ve prioritized. 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in your house, it may be time to take a deep breath.

You can’t just get rid of everything that doesn’t excite or serve you anymore. Not everything that doesn’t “spark joy” needs to go away.

Did you know that the act of decluttering can be both therapeutic and cathartic?

A little-known fact about decluttering is that it helps to relieve stress, anxiety, and depression. Decluttering can also help with sleep problems, bad dreams, phobias, OCD tendencies or rituals, or inflammation issues such as chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia or arthritis- as you might be less stressed thus decreasing inflammation.  Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of sparking joy might help but then again, do you really feel happier with less? Maybe but maybe not. There’s plenty of people happily living with more.

There are three main reasons people hoard things and/or feel like they have too much stuff when they don’t need them – sentimental value, lack of trust with giving away items (especially if there’s no guarantee someone else will use them), and not wanting to let go because we think our circumstances might change. The key is recognizing what motivates these emotions so you can make decisions about how to handle your belongings based on your personal values, needs, and situation instead of succumbing to inertia out of fear or guilt.

Don’t allow yourself to see hoarding or clutter as a problem you must fix right now; it is a process and the most important aspect of this process, is your ability to accept yourself as you are.

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Michele Paiva

Michele Paiva is a Licensed Psychotherapist, Recovery Coach and Certified Finance Educator, with 30 years experience in helping others to see their true value, and the truth under their trauma, to love themselves and springboard into a full, rich life. Rewrite your money story and take control of your financial and emotional health.

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