According to the Mayo Clinic, 3 early signs of hoarding are:
- Acquiring things you don’t need and have no space for
- Difficulty throwing things away
Although most of us aren’t in danger of becoming hoarders in the clinical sense of the word, how many of us shrank a little when we read those symptoms? What can we do about it?
The drive to acquire stuff is epidemic. Psychiatrists are currently debating whether to name compulsive buying as an actual disorder. The problem is they can’t seem to agree on the parameters. It’s complicated. How much is too much? Does it depend on the income of the shopper? Do they draw the line based on the damage it causes to the individual and their family?
One thing they do agree on, however, is materialism can be a real problem.
In her book, Keeping Up with the Joneses: Envy in American Consumer Society, 1890-1930 Susan Matt creates a link between morals and materialism. Her premise is 100 years ago people saw envy – the desire to have what others have even if you don’t need it – as base and unattractive. But, along with mass produced goods, department stores, and catalogs came marketing. What better way to sell products than to turn envy from a sin into a virtue.
There is no question we live in a keep-up-with-the-Jones world. But most experts agree, rather than buying us happiness, materialism is weighing us down.
According to the American Psychological Association not only does increased wealth not make people happy, it may actually make them less satisfied with life. People who are materialistically driven are more prone to depression and anxiety, more likely to divorce, and have greater difficultly relating to others.
So, why do we want more stuff? The Psychological Association says it’s because we are insecure. We’re worried we won’t have what we need when we need it. We want to prove our value by how much we own. We have unreasonable attachments to things, maybe because things are easier to deal with than people.
These answers are the same as the hoarders give when asked why they hold onto piles of old newspapers, clothing that doesn’t fit, and empty jam jars. The idea of getting rid of their things fills them with such fear and insecurity they would rather be buried alive.
Most of us wouldn’t allow our home to become our tomb, but we do make limiting life decisions because of our stuff.
My family is in that funny place between a full and an empty nest. My chickies are flying back and forth these days, but the handwriting’s on the twigs. Off and on, my husband and I rattle around our suburban home and dream of downsizing. But when I walk from room to room what do I see?
- Antiques I’ve acquired from my parents
- The remodeled kitchen we’ve spent so much time and so many hard-earned dollars on
- Odds and ends from my kid’s childhood years
It’s hard to imagine parting with those things, but I’m no longer happy taking care of it all. I want to live by the beach, or in a more rural area. I want to be out of doors more and cleaning the house less. I want to be closer to nature and spend less time caring for the land up to my property line. I want to be an active part of a community and spend less time on social media.
Real estate prices are too high for us to pay extra rent just to house our stuff.
Hubby and I are going to have to make some tough decisions. In response to this, I’ve been doing some reading. I guess I’m psyching myself up to get rid of stuff. The New American Dream is an interesting site for just that. There are articles on the evils of materialism, but also plenty of practical ideas to help your home and community break free from its grip.
- They have booklets on how to parent in a consumer driven world.
- Guides for starting community programs.
- They even have information about how to have a more joyful Christmas.
Here is a video that explains their perspective.
Are you between a rock and a bookcase full of stuff? Or, have you already begun to downsize. I’d love to hear your perspective. Please comment below.
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