When Your Stuff Becomes a Burden

You know the feeling. Anxiety, tension, suffocation when you walk into a room and it’s like, “How. did. all. of this STUFF get here?” I’d like to comfort myself and believe we’ve all been there at one time or another. Looking at it is exhausting. Tackling it seems defeating. Our stuff doesn’t just magically appear in our homes. It doesn’t have legs, walk in and sit down in the middle of the floor and say, “Deal with me now!” And I know, I know it seems cold to point the blame back onto you, or me, or anyone dealing with it. After all blame shifting never solves anything. Truth is, we have all developed habits that make us proned to hoarding too many things. It’s the world we live in. Any way we turn, we are pressed to buy one. more. thing. So it’s the world’s fault, right? Well no, not specifically. If anything, it’s a self-awareness issue. Clutter exists in our home from one of two ways or a combo of both – Buying too much or keeping too much. I’ve comprised a list to determine which side of the coin a person’s clutter causing habits fall.

Your clutter may stem from BUYING too much if several of these resonate with you.
  • You find items in your clutter that have never been opened. Exp: clothes with tags or duplicate items.
  • You respond to a compliment with a deal brag. Exp: Someone says, “I like your shirt.” And you say, “Thanks, I got it for $5 on clearance.”
  • You shop for fun without an agenda.
  • You keep unused portions of things that you have multiples of just because they are still good. Exp: journals, note pads, craft supplies.
  • Your hobby is chasing deals. Exp: a favorite pass time is yard sale hopping.
  • You buy things for others without their asking
  • You often treat yourself to cope with emotions. Exp: Reasoning that you deserve to be spoiled because you had a bad day or should celebrate a victory by buying something for yourself.
  • You get antsy if you haven’t bought anything for a few days.
  • You have a hard time paying full price for anything. You prioritize discount over quality.
  • You may have subscription plans that you have forgotten about.
Your clutter may stem from KEEPING too much if several of these resonate with you.
  • You keep anything that is still usable for an undefined day in the future.
  • You can’t find anything when you need it. Exp: You have scissors in every room in the house but you still can’t find a pair when you need them.
  • You buy a thing because you couldn’t find the one you already had.
  • Your clutter prevents you from doing common chores like cooking a meal.
  • You keep trash because of the memory associated with it. Exp: broken jewelry, things that are unusable otherwise.
  • You keep things for other people even when they have told you to get rid of it.
  • You have rooms in your home you won’t allow others to walk in.
  • You shuffle piles of things to make a room functional temporarily. Exp: moving piles of laundry to the floor so you can sit in a chair.
  • You wish your rooms felt lighter. You’d rather leave the room than face it.
  • You can hardly see your kitchen table. It’s easier to eat on the couch than it is to clean it off and eat at the table.

For me, I struggled with buying too much more than keeping too much. Once I had the self awareness of what I was doing (treating myself to fill an emotional void), I could start to develop habits to halt it. I realize much more quickly now when “I’m doing it again.” It’s hard in the moment to say, “I don’t need that.”, but I’ve never regretted not buying the thing that I wanted to treat myself. A little bit of time has been the best indicator for if I wanted to actually buy the thing or if my impulses were emotionally driven. This has helped me to create more meaningful purchases and better investments when I do buy something, which has ultimately led to less clutter in my home.

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