Are you constantly looking through “junk” drawers, pulling boxes from storage, retracing steps to find things that have been “lost” in your own home?
As humans, we like to, and even need to surround ourselves with so much stuff for various reasons:
1. Didn’t have much
Maybe you didn’t have much growing up, and now that you’re older, you hang onto stuff because you come from a place of lack or fear of not having enough. You may fear giving up or letting go of things because you believe that you won’t have the means to repurchase them in the future.
2. Emotional buying
You may shop to fill an emotional void like when you’re bored, sad or lonely. But emotional buying can happen when you’re happy too.
3. Reduce, reuse, recycle
You may feel guilt when it comes time to purge. We live in a time when reduce, reuse or recycle, is the right thing to do. So when we need to throw something in the garbage, we feel guilt for “filling the landfill” and hang onto things much longer than we should.
For some of us, our accumulation of things may have started quite innocently with “hand-me-downs.” The passing of things from one person to another. Does anyone have a younger sibling that inherited your clothes? Or maybe you inherited items from your older siblings?
5. People pleaser
Some of us try to make others happy by taking their stuff- accepting gifts, memories of loved ones, moments, childhood etc. Clutter can add up when we continuously put people’s needs before our own.
6. Effort too great
When we have too much stuff, it can feel too overwhelming to tackle our things and decide what to keep and what to donate/recycle/throw away.
Psychology Today says that people also hold onto things thinking that they’ll be worth money someday or have a purpose in the future.
Other outside influences affect our buying habits as well:
7. Digital Ads lead to spending
Smart social media platforms now have ads tailored to us. Things we’ve searched for online show up and taunt us to buy with just the right price and just the right caption! We don’t even have to leave the house- with one click; it shows up at our door in less than a few days!
8. We have advertisements
Telling us that we deserve it and work hard for our money, so why not splurge? They try to convince us that we need something- that our lives will be more challenging or lesser than if we don’t purchase right now!
9. A great deal
If you’re a deal hunter- you can’t resist the lure of the sale! 50% off, 70% off, 90% off, liquidation, all calling to come and buy buy buy!!! But the deal isn’t that great if you didn’t need it in the first place. The lure of the sale makes you feel like you’re saving. It can make you purchase things you would have typically avoided just to “save” money, or it instills a sense of fear of “missing” something.
These advertisements promise a better life. But overspending can lead to credit card debt, feelings of shame and guilt, and a cycle of trying to fill a void in your life, such as sadness, loneliness, unworthiness, grief, prestige, achievement, and success.
Buying things makes us feel better for only a short while- but when we let it get out of control, and we end up in clutter- it can have a long-lasting impact on our home and also our life (see more on the downside of clutter HERE.)
What can we do to make sure we stop accumulating?
- Ask yourself: do you really need the item, or do you want it because you’re trying to fill a void or coming from a place of lack?
- Is this a reward?
- Learn to say no to other people’s stuff.- I teach people how to say no in my Calm the Clutter course
- When you’re tidying up and cleaning- always have a decluttering mindset.
- Decide what’s really important in your life? Is it stuff or relationships with family and friends, your career etc.?
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