Are You A Hoarder?
Have you found yourself asking ‘Am I a hoarder?’ lately? If so it is not surprising given how much hoarding has been in the spotlight over recent years. If you have been asking yourself this question lately then obviously you have cause for concern. With hoarding now being recognized as a mental disease, it is quite normal for people with a lot of stuff to consider whether they have a problem or whether their collection of things is within normal guidelines.
While you may believe that someone with a lot of stuff is a hoarder just because they have a lot more things than you do it doesn’t necessarily mean they are a hoarder. Plenty of people are just disorganized, sometimes to the point of it being a chronic issue, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they are hoarding. If this is you then please don’t automatically jump to the conclusion that you are a hoarder and will end up like the people depicted on the popular television series ‘Hoarding: Buried Alive’.
The Difference Between Hoarding and Having
Hoarding is not so much about the things a person has as it is about the attitude they have towards those things. It is fine to surround yourself with things that make you happy. In fact collecting certain items is something we as humans often do, sometimes even to the point where there are too many to store without having to find additional space such as a unit at a storage facility. This does not equate to hoarding.
When hoarding is a problem the person who has accumulated large amounts of things has an issue with letting go. A hoarder has trouble letting go of anything. Each and every item has value to them, and sometimes to a ‘normal’ person, that value is not realistic. Some hoarders will not only hold onto items of true financial value but also things that are trash to someone else, often with the thought that they can use those items at a later date, or that they can be repaired to make useful again. Recyclable items are a perfect example of this. While the hoarder may have more jars, plastic cups and other items that can be recycled they feel the need to hang on to more than they could possibly use.
The Opinions of Others
Family members and friends mean well when they may suggest that you have a hoarding problem. Before buying into their opinions consider where they are coming from. For example, a minimalist is likely to think that the homes of all his or her non-minimalist friends and family members is cluttered and therefore they could easily jump to the conclusion that you are a hoarder.
In fact one of the worst problems when feeling like your house is out of control is the well-meaning advice from others that you will receive, most often unsolicited. If you are fortunate enough to have a friend or family member whom you trust to give you their honest opinion, then that is a different matter. It seems that too often people are only too willing to inflict their opinions on to others, and you may find yourself in that position.
Avoiding Letting People In
If your house is messy and you have too much stuff that is just not organized and tidy you may find yourself avoiding letting people in because you feel ashamed and don’t want to see their reaction or hear their disappointment/disgust. Or you simply do not want to let people in because you are feeling too vulnerable and know in your heart that your house is not in a ‘normal’ state. Hoarders tend to keep their homes as their own ‘dirty little secret’.
What To Do
Ask a friend whether they think you have too much stuff. Choose someone you know will be supportive and caring and not judgmental.
Ask yourself if you can let go of things. If you can, prove it to yourself by going through some things and either throwing the items in the trash (no digging them out again) or take them to a donation center and hand them over.
Look around you and think about how you would like your home to look. Does it measure up? What would it take to get it ideal – a lot or just a little effort?
I really believe that it is the attitude towards things that dictates whether you are a hoarder or not. If your house has just gotten out of control and needs to be organized, with some purging/donating along the way, and you feel confident that you can do that without any emotional stress, I very much doubt you are a hoarder. If on the other hand the mere thought of getting rid of things sends you into an emotional downward spiral you may have a hoarding problem.