You've made the decision. Drawn the line in the sand. It's time to get organised! Then you start thinking about where to begin.
Decision-making is so difficult for you...
What if I start in the wrong place?
Where is the "best" place to begin?
What are the "best" organising strategies?
How many times have you gone to start addressing your mountain of possessions only to be faced with the paralysis of indecision? Your perfectionist self takes over and bombards you with thoughts about how many times you've tried before. How useless and disorganised and worthless these efforts have been in the past. I say: thank your mind for its input.
Other people's opinions about your lifestyle don't create change for you do they? Heck no! Even if deep down you know they’re right and you do need to change, you don't listen to their put downs and criticism of every attempt you make to get your life together? Hell no!
Well why do you let your mind do it to you?
There's a saying about not judging people by their words, judge them by their actions.
Tell you mind politely to go get stuffed (see what I did there) and start taking action.
But in which direction? How?
This week I’d like you to ponder your “why” to provide motivation when you don’t see the point in parting with stuff.
As Viktor Frankl said in Man’s search for meaning:
“If you can find a “why” then you can bear any “how”.
Of course, Viktor was talking about the Nazi concentration camps, but perhaps you perceive that letting go of your precious possessions would cause you unbearable suffering. Viktor was able to take action towards his values even in times of dire uncertainty and you can too. What am I asking you to do?
Decide on what you value most in life.
Try these steps:
What are your possessions stopping you from doing? Think back to activities and relationships that used to bring joy and excitement to your life. Childhood passions and pastimes you thought you’d never give up. Can you start doing those things now or are the items you’ve saved in the way. This could be a place to start.
What are the things that give your life meaning? Is it family? Hoarding can have devastating effects on your children and spouse. The intense fear you have about being “found out” causes you (however unintentional) to force compliance on your immediate family. Your behaviours are restricting other’s freedoms. Do you want your kids to feel they can invite friends for sleepovers and pizza nights?
If your kids are grown I encourage you to have the difficult conversations with them about their childhood. Ask them how it felt to live in the hoard. If you value family you need to face your part in creating brittle relationships now in order to change and grow. Do you have grandkids that you can't have over because of the state of your hoarded home?
Is it your romantic relationship? Start by asking your partner how they feel about the living environment. Really listen. Active listening is about hearing the words and seeing the body language in order to understand the person’s POV. It’s not: waiting for your turn to speak, trying to turn their words against them, or stonewalling them when you don’t like what they say. Listen to understand. Show your understanding by reflecting back what they said: “So, let me see if I’ve got this right…” This might change your relationship dynamic for the better.
Is it your health? Look around and see how you are managing your personal hygiene and meal preparation. If you want to get healthy and break old patterns you need you’re home to be clean, your kitchen to be accessible, and food to be fresh. Dig deep. Perhaps your hoarding is a way to avoid making big scary changes in other areas of your life.
Even though you have trouble making decisions this is THE decision. What do you truly value? Effort here is worth it...this is the direction your life will take.
How do you work out what your values even are? Living a valued life, that is one you find meaningful, will guide you in every decision you make from here on... Hear your mind’s objections but don't listen.
If this isn’t something you’ve ever thought about you might not have the vocabulary to identify what your values are so have a look at this worksheet from Russ Harris, ACT Mindfully. I recommend this process to many clients who can’t articulate values. Follow the instructions and see where it takes you. We all have to start somewhere.