Today’s blog post is written by Bay Area Organizer Kiera Rain. Kiera is a professional organizer for homes, offices and businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s been a professional organizer since 2003, specializing in the mental health aspects of disorganization: Hoarding, OCD, Agoraphobia, ADD/ADHD, Anxiety, Depression and Grief. Read on and if you want to know more about Kiera, check out her YouTube video link at the end of this post.
People hoard to fill emotional voids. It’s not about the stuff — it’s about what’s going on with them on a personal level.
Here are the 5 reasons why people hoard:
1) Loneliness. Hoarders surround themselves with things to fill the empty space around them so they don’t feel as isolated. Stand in an empty, quiet room and then stand in a room full of furniture with a chiming clock, interesting knick knacks, pictures and books, and you’ll FEEL the difference of the space. Unfortunately, instead of making the home warm, inviting and cozy, the home becomes so crowded it becomes a non-functioning space. People can’t sit on the couches, people aren’t invited over because of the embarrassment of the mess, friends and family threaten to stop coming over until the hoarder cleans up their space, etc. I help clients take back their space while making it warm and inviting again.
2) Impoverished. For those who grew up in the Depression Days, poverty, had “penny pinching parents,” etc, buying things can be very powerful therapy. Until the retail shopping causes more damage than good. These type of hoarders love to bargain shop, buy in bulk, and always have multiples of everything.
3) Grief/Loss. This is probably the biggest reason why people hoard. Has the hoarder lost someone very close to them–a parent, partner, child, even a family pet? Doesn’t have to be death–divorce, job loss, retirement and more are all reasons to grieve. Grief is a very serious transition that we must all go through, and some people resort to trying to cope via hoarding. They try to fill the void in their lives, fill the empty space around them, shop for retail therapy to lift their spirits, and hold on to everything they have of the deceased loved one.
4) Memory. Many hoarders feel they need to keep things so they don’t forget about someone or a special event. They feel they will forget the person or occurrence if they don’t have the item to remind them. I give suggestions like taking pictures of the items to keep in the “Memory Box/Treasure Trunk” and donating the items to a good home where they will be used, loved and appreciated.
I also suggest hugging that favorite old t-shirt goodbye before donating it to a good home to ease the transition process, and/or calling the person you’ve been missing and have a long catch-up conversation. If they’ve passed on, write the deceased a letter or talk to them in your own special way.
5) Rescue Mentality, Commonly from Abuse/Neglect. People will also hoard when they’ve been abused/neglected. Because they were rejected and tossed aside and not taken care of, they rescue items in an effort to rescue themselves. They don’t want to see things go in the landfill, never to be used or cherished. They “might need it one day,” so they hold onto it. I help clients see that instead of that cup sitting in a corner collecting dust for 6 years, they can donate the cup and give it a good home. The cup is not serving it’s purpose if it’s not being used/cherished/valued so give it a chance to be useful.