What happened to my? Where is the? Have you seen my? I can't find my??? Keeping track of our stuff, having too much stuff, wanting more stuff with nowhere to put it, and just getting to our stuff seems to ring out a warning bell that you may have some clutter challenges.
So why is clutter such a major event in so many people's lives? The first public story about hoarding was in 1947 about the Collyer Brothers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collyer_brothers This view that people had issues with their stuff was both alarming and eye opening. People, for the first time, publicy became aware that having too much stuff could pose a deadly threat.
This past year I have had 100's, yes 100's of clients ask me the same question. Why do I have this clutter challenge? My answer is never the same for any two people and or families. I have clients with mild disorganization and some that are decor challenged. Then I have clients that have their entire home stuffed with filth, grime, rat poop and just a whole lot of NADA. Each case is really more and more different than the next. I had one lady that was so over organized and such a minimalist without a stitch of decor or barely anything in the house. She felt deserted after her divorce and in a confused daze. She couldn't figure out why she still felt disorganized even though her husband had taken all the furniture and pretty much everything. I have other folks that have so many things collected over 20 years and not on thing they owned ever left.
Each person shares a different reaction after de-cluttering whether it is a pantry, a garage, an entire home or a business. Some people are super grateful for the massive change and than some, let's just say have a random and possibly psychotic reaction. The resistance to change can pose a strong negative reaction, and sometimes even danger and or threat to some clients if not handled well. When there are extraordinary circumstances such as hoarding, loss and grief an organizer with a mental health background will be the best resource for the project.
It is always fun to have the client symbolize their own demise or stuff. One lady I worked with last year had cluttered up her whole house with fabric. It was literally EVERYWHERE!! FABRIC, FABRIC, AND MORE FABRIC. She had gone through a grueling break up with her boyfriend, lost a parent, and had moved into a new home 3 years prior. She just kept buying more and more fabric. She symbolized the fabric as something touchable, that felt good, that never bit back and that made her feel warm and fuzzy. All the things she had lost with the lack of love from her ex-husband. Each piece of fabric made her FEEL positively ecstatic.
Another client had collected so much stuff from Disneyland. At least $10,000 in stuff from Disneyland, plus enough clothes to fill a Kohls. Why clothing and Disneyland? Well it symbolized her emptiness created from her childhood all the way through to her loveless marriage. The clothing made her feel important and loveable and the stuff from Disneyland symbolized the lack of love and attention from her childhood.
So whatever you seem to collect shoes, knicknacks, hats, books, papers, records, furniture, purses find out what all that stuff really means and symbolize it to understand what the objects truly mean to you. Having too much stuff can be Greed ( or really a hunger for power and control), Lust (or longing for real love and fulfillment), Attachment ( or lack of authentic relationships and achievment / ownership), Anger (especially evident with people who crowd out their loved ones and family members with their stuff, but also from having a lack of unconditional love and regard and attention perhaps from childhood), and Vanity ( or low self esteem, personality challenges, inability to have an authentic relationship with self and others).
Get to the bottom of your stuff by figuring out how to uncover the true meaning of it and you will soon be able to get it out of your space when it is no longer useful, serving a purposed, loved or sentimental.
Marla Stone, MSW, Professional Organizer
Any reference to clients is fictional in nature and not specific to any actual clients.
All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real
persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Marla is known as the Declutter Your Strategy™ expert. Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of