There’s a difference between a Collector and a Hoarder.
Collector’s LOVE their things. They’re displayed and enjoyed, arranged and rearranged. New things are added to the collection with pleasure.
A Hoarder (a person with hoarding behaviours) often feels a deep sense of responsibility for their things. They often feel tremendous anxiety if their things are likely to be taken from them, or they are stopped from their habitual gathering of more things.
I have a theory that we are all on a spectrum of collecting and hoarding Stuff. Some of us are waaaay down at the low end of the Stuff Spectrum, with Marie Kondo. Others of us are right up at the high end. But most of us are somewhere in the (really broad) middle bit.
When you start to look at your things with an eye to declutter, this is when your particular point on the Stuff Spectrum comes to light. And this point can vary quite a lot. It depends on how you’re feeling at any particular moment.
If there are big changes afoot in your life, you might respond by clinging to things that you might otherwise let go of. Or you might feel it’s a chance to clear out your life.
Only you know how much stuff is right for you. You might be feeling annoyance, anxiety at the thought of tidying or cleaning it all up, guilt, or just good old fashioned overwhelm at too much stuff.
That’s why you’re thinking about decluttering.
The tough part comes up when your point on the Stuff Spectrum is challenged. You might be looking at your cookbook collection. Or all the amazing toys you’ve spent so much money on over the years.
It’s stuff that you love. Stuff that you appreciate, know is still good and feel still has value. There’s just too much Good Stuff! You might simply have too much of a good thing.
Maybe you have a teapot collection, but only so much shelf space. So some are still in boxes.
Books that you’ve never read, or read once, that are at the bottom of the book shelf behind a pile of other books. No one ever reads them.
Clothes that have migrated to the deepest, darkest part of your wardrobe that constantly get overlooked.
You need to declutter to make those uncomfortable feelings of overwhelm or stress go away. Your choice is clear. There are some things here that you don’t love, use or need and they could go to a new home. But… on your point of the Stuff Spectrum your Collector and your Hoarder are battling it out.
Your Collector is happy to let them go, because they know which things really matter to you (and it’ll make space for new things!)
Your Hoarder is NOT happy. They’re worried that you’ll never get anything as good as this ever again. They’re worried that no one will look after this thing as well as you could. They feel guilty for even thinking of giving up Good Stuff that you paid good money for, how ungrateful!
In the end it comes down to How Much Do You Love It.
Would you swap the vase that’s dusty and unused under the sink for one that you use often and display with pleasure? No? Let it go.
Those toys under the kids beds? How long has it been since they played with them? It’s OK to let go of Good Stuff. More Good Stuff will come into your kids life.
You know there’s Good Stuff in the garage, but you can’t actually get to it without moving a whole heap of other stuff that’s in front of it. How long have you thought that it just wasn’t worth the effort to excavate it? You know what? It could go.
If you don’t love an item enough to give it priority, then it’s something you can let go of.
You can do good things with the Good Stuff you let go of.
Sell it, gift it, donate it.
Liz The Tidy Lady
Declutter Coach & Tidyness Expert