Reading “Stuff’ by Randy Frost and Gail Sketekee illustrates in full, shocking detail, the degree to which people become obsessed with possessions through a sort of ‘clutter blindness’. As a Storage Design Specialist, for 23 years I have witnessed the never ending and often lost quest to keep possessions organized and accessible. I have also seen incredible excess and ‘clutter blindness’ that accompanies it.
In “Stuff’, we learn about people whose intense connection to possessions hold them hostage to a shrinking world of space.
Hoarding and out-of control accumulating share a surprising similarity in the emotional, physical and psychological justifications for accumulating things.
Reasons for Clutter Blindness
Acquiring stuff feeds our emotional bank with all kinds of satisfying feelings. Plus, things, unlike people, are reliable — they never change and are always there.
Surrounding ourselves with things we find meaning and/or comfort in can trigger a pleasure response and temporarily ease our anxiety. When people and events have hurt us, gathering and collecting things can be a natural, albeit problematic, response.
Our emotional attachment to possessions becomes so great it prevents us from seeing what is important versus what is unimportant. It becomes difficult to ‘let go’ of obsolete possessions that are hijacking space and energy (meant for people and relationships!).
Types of Clutter Blindness
Each of us has a pre-disposition to accumulate certain kinds of things. This is usually justified by a feeling of responsibility/belief that the object will be needed in the future. For instance, the newspaper/magazine lover believes that each magazine/newspaper is filled with golden morsels of information just waiting for the moment it will be needed. Articles are viewed as unique treasures, each with an important purpose.
Similarly, stuffed animals, broken appliances/furniture, old clothing are waiting to fulfill their destiny of ‘someday’ being read, fixed, mended, shared and ultimately used. The problem is the ‘treasures’ will more often than not, stay in a permanent state of limbo.
Degrees of Clutter Blindness
The ability to be insightful and control ones behavior means one may not have a problem with hoarding. That said, collecting too much stuff which interferes with ones ability to maintain balance and organization in the home, is a problem many of us share.
It is so easy in our consumer driven society, to mistakenly focus our homes as a depository for things versus people. Clutter Blindness abounds in our society. I highly recommend “Stuff”. Reading, it challenges us to think deeply about our attachment to possessions. Seeing clearly the difference between ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’ is a beginning. Slowly, bit by bit we can believe that things do not define us. And letting things go opens up new energy and space for limitless possibilities.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts.
If you or someone you know has a problem with Clutter Blindness or Hoarding I recommend seeking help from the below organizations.
- Overcoming Hoarding Together
- The International OCD Hoarding Foundation
- Messies Anonymous
- National Organization of Professional Organizers