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Old 06-23-06, 11:38 AM
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Why is it so hard to let go of all that stuff ?

Why Is It So Hard To Let Go Of All That Stuff?
Contributed by: Linda Anderson

http://www.addconsults.com/articles/full.php3?id=1003


Where does all this "stuff" come from, anyway, and why is it so hard to get rid of? Where one person can give it all away, leaving no clutter behind, another person will live eyeball-high surrounded with his or her life's accumulation, unable to part with any of it. Yet another person has no idea where or how to begin this "letting go". As a coach with considerable experience as a professional organizer, I have worked with individuals in their homes and offices helping them to let go of too much stuff and organize what's left. What I have learned may help you understand why it's so hard for you or others to give things up.

Whether you are an all out clutter junky or just a closet-clutterer, take consolation in the fact that you are not alone. I have worked with lawyers, doctors, nurses, members of the media, various professionals and business owners, as well as homemakers and retired senior citizens, who all share the problem of keeping too much stuff. For the purpose of better understanding who is prone to cluttering and why, I have described below six categories of collectors and clutterers. You might recognize yourself among them.

This first category includes a growing number of collectors, the environmentalists. These individuals can't bear to part with anything which might add waste to our planet. It is truly hard for them to throw out, since letting go also means giving up something potentially reusable, and they can find a use for almost everything. The environmentalist, however, probably found a use for everything before they even heard of the terms recycling or ecology.

The paper mystic finds giving up printed material impossible, because every word and every page holds potential meaning in their life. If they should lose or throw out a certain article or reference, they might never get it back again. The very thought of throwing out those stacks of unread material, which might contain the answer to the whereabouts of the holy grail or the definitive answer to losing those extra twenty pounds, is tantamount to sacrilege and unbearable for them to think about.

The archivist feels a religious attachment to anything old. They enjoy remembering the past while holding a letter written years ago, a faded photo or some small useless trinket. They forget that libraries and museums are much better equipped to store these things then they are. Archivists have a fondness for the good old days which stops them from looking very far into the future. And it doesn't seem to matter if the present gets a little obscured, as well.

The touchy-feely person can't bear to part with an item which has an experience or a memory associated with it. However, for them, almost everything has a story or a feeling associated with it. They like to be surrounded by a certain amount of stuff, which they can touch and see. It makes them comfortable. Like the others, however, they feel unhappy with too much to touch, feel, and see, but they can't understand how it all got there.

The artisan keeps things, because they can't help but see the unlimited possibilities for turning their own, as well as, another person's trash into mobiles, sculptures, furnishings, clothing, holiday decorations and various and sundry objects d'art. If only they would collect less and give more of their collection to charity.

One might never suspect this next category-the perfectionist. The perfectionist hides out under stacks of paper and old stuff. To see them surrounded by their clutter, one might never entertain the thought of them as per └fectionists, but perfectionists know themselves very well. They won't even get started on clearing out the clutter, because they can not do it perfectly.

The last of these categories is the procrastinator. This is someone who avoids the task of decluttering or who appears to avoid it. They share characteristics with any of the previous categories. Procrastinators are not always lazy. They may never have learned from a role model how to be organized in the first place and have no idea where to begin And they might certainly be someone with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or a Learning Disability (LD). Figuring out where to begin, let alone understanding the steps needed to get a job done and complete it without getting distracted, or bored, can be truly challenging. Add to this their fear of "out of sight - out of mind" and there is a real potential for getting stuck with too much stuff.

The previous categories are, of course, generalizations illustrating a variety of in-born personality and temperament traits, which can predispose one to having clutter and organizational challenges. Add to this the possibility of having ADD/LD, and then add behavioral traits and habits acquired, or not acquired, from family and life experience. What we end up with is a multi-layered picture of what can cause, for some people, disorganization, procrastination and too much junk!

What can you do if you have trouble letting go, but can't stand the clutter?

The answer is - find support. Find yourself a friend, relative, professional organizer or coach who is willing to help you. There is magic in working together, and it's less stressful and more fun. Decluttering requires sensitivity, honesty and humor. Find someone whose eyebrows won't hit the ceiling when they survey your collection. Choose someone who is non-judgmental, who will include you in the process, in the "doing" part, of organizing the stuff that stays, and find someone who smiles now and then. Remember this, start with what's going right for you, with what works for you, then move into the unknowns and boggles.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:40 AM
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I'm good at decluttering. :-) But I'm bad about accumulating things that necessitate it. As a general rule though if I haven't gone looking for something in a while I can circular file it confident that it won't be missed.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:50 AM
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It's not the 'clutter' that bothers me, so much- my place is tidy, and you can definitely be in it comfortably...it's my accumulation of 'stuff'..stuff like knick knacks, books, clothes...'stuff' that I had to 'have' more of, at the time when I bought it.

I got rid of so much 'stuff' when I moved last.
However, since I've been here, for the past nine months...I've managed to accumulate 'stuff' again.
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Old 06-23-06, 11:52 AM
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There is a solution to that. Collect set amounts of stuff on a sort of "decor" theme. Then periodically change your "look" (no I'm not home decorator material this is what my ex did). When you change your look get rid of all the old stuff. This way you have an ever changing personal environment that both reflects your tastes and manages not to overwhelm the load bearing ability of your home and crush everything.
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Old 06-25-06, 03:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by source
The paper mystic finds giving up printed material impossible, because every word and every page holds potential meaning in their life. If they should lose or throw out a certain article or reference, they might never get it back again. The very thought of throwing out those stacks of unread material, which might contain the answer to the whereabouts of the holy grail or the definitive answer to losing those extra twenty pounds, is tantamount to sacrilege and unbearable for them to think about.

I am bad with written stuff (books) and clothes okay shoes too. When my stuff gets restrictive then I go bezerk and begin getting rid of stuff. When I feel suffocated by too much stuff I can hyper focus to a certain extent. I say hyper focus to a certain extent is probably closer to normal focusing because I do not go to extremes and throw out every thing but I will finally mail those pants that are too short to my much shorter daughter. I will finally chuck out year old magazines I havenĺt read ect . . . .
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Old 06-25-06, 10:29 AM
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I do 'clean house', and get rid of most things...usually at some point, LOL!
It's not as bad as I make it seem.

I guess I tend to notice that my place has more 'stuff', when I go over someone else's house, and their dwellings don't....at least it seems like they don't....


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Quote:
The touchy-feely person can't bear to part with an item which has an experience or a memory associated with it. However, for them, almost everything has a story or a feeling associated with it. They like to be surrounded by a certain amount of stuff, which they can touch and see.
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Old 06-25-06, 10:49 AM
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Heh Nova I am not one too keep much stuff at all! I do not have baby books for my kids, I loathe what-nots, nick-nacks, etc.

And I wonder what's wrong with me! LOL! Where is my sentimental side? Why do I prefer to keep my memories stored in my historically unreliable memory and have virtually nothing in the way of objects of sentimental value?
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Old 06-25-06, 12:27 PM
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I don't get rid of anything!!!!!!!! LOL
You can barely walk thru my basement and garage!

However, I can't stand living in clutter, so the rest of the house is tidy. (That's weird, it wouldn't let me use the word --> spars e! LOL)
That's why everything is stored in the basement and garage. If it wasn't for me saving stuff, the house would be perfectly neat and tidy!

Anyway, come on over to my house if you need to borrow anything! (Everyone else does! LOL) I'm sure I have what your looking for somewhere! However you'll have to help me find it! LOL

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Old 06-26-06, 04:43 PM
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I can't stand knick-knacks, and I don't mind getting rid of stuff. I even manage to give away (or even put in the charity bin) clothing that I've made.

But HOW do I get through this pile of boxes plaguing me right now? I moved in March and still haven't unpacked. The bookshelf units I ordered are supposed to arrive next week, and before then I'd like to finish going through all the papers and stuff. I've put a lot of things on eBay. I have a huge bag to go to the church shop, and another to go to a summer camp for crafts.

Some things, I know I accumulate by biting off more than I can chew. Things like this 40-yard roll of top-quality irish linen I bought to make summer bedsheets. OTOH, I don't have the space to sew sheets when there's so much clutter piled up! OTOH, there's no way I'll get the same quality stuff at such a low price again. I could sew fabulous sheets in a weekend - if only I weren't spending so much time and energy hiding from the piles.

On the positive side ... meds have erased the old terror of the piles and paperwork. Now I have a pure organizational problem.
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Old 10-23-08, 06:57 AM
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Re: Why is it so hard to let go of all that stuff ?

My wife has a great name for stuff " Objects d'ust".
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