Sunday, July 28, 2019

Overcoming Hoarding

Not actually Erin.
Picture by KJ Photography
& is used with permission. 
I have mentioned before that my father is a hoarder. I think it's time that I admit I have hoarding issues as well, although thankfully they aren't as bad as my father's and I'm fighting them because they annoy me severely.

I feel the need to justify myself, so please allow me to explain:
  • I have literally lost count of the number of times I've thrown something away only to need it later. While I acknowledge this is confirmation bias at work and that there are many more times when I haven't needed something I've thrown away, I still get a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I realize had X in my possession and now I need it, as if I've betrayed myself. Thus I find myself reluctant to dispose of anything useful because "I might need it later." So at least I'm not hoarding newspapers and pizza boxes!
  • I hate waste, by which I mean even if I've never used a particular something, I don't want to trash it if it's still serviceable. This is why I have so many hex wrenches: they're still perfectly fine tools and they don't belong in the garbage. If there were some way for me to extract value from them I would do so happily; for example, that I lived in the fictional Star Trek universe, then I would happily shove them all back into the replicator and turn them into credits, because then I wouldn't be wasting them. Alternately, if I could give them to someone who wanted them I would do that, because again that's not wasting a resource, that's transferring it to someone else. 
  • I'm sentimental about some things. There's some stuff from my childhood which makes me smile inside and I can't bear to get rid of it, even though I know I ought. 

The good news is that I know it's a problem and I'm working to correct it. 
  • I have realized that my mental happiness today is more important than the value of any one thing. For example, if I am irritated because I keep having to step over/around X, and X is not likely to serve me in the future, then I need to get rid of it because "not being irritated on a daily basis" has a value as well, and that value is likely far larger than whatever nebulous benefit I get from X. 
  • If I am undecided about something, I hide it, by which I mean "I put it in a bag and remove it from my sight." If I need it, then I know where to go to get it. But after a period of time -- a week, a month, a year if need be -- I go to that bag to clean it out. It's so much easier to throw away something that I know I have neither used nor needed for a long period of time. 
  • Sometimes it's the little steps which matter. Tackling a large pile can be daunting, but it's a lot easier to do it one "bite" at a time. If there is a collection of stuff which needs sorting, when I go past it I make a point of taking one item from the pile and then determining what to do with it. Curiously, it's easier from a mental standpoint for me to dispose of a single thing than an entire box of them. 
That's how I'm dealing with my hoarding impulses to (hopefully) ensure they don't become a large problem in the future. If you have similar problems, I'd love to hear how you have coped with them. 

1 comment:

  1. I try to pass things along to my friends, that way I don't feel so guilty about getting rid of items. I recently gifted a family friend with all my reenacting kit. It saved him on the cost of investment and bonus I gained a closet and several book shelve space.


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