Clutter is a big problem for many people. If you were to do a sample of a group of your friends regarding how many of them had a problem with clutter and disorganization, you’d probably find that at least half of your friends would raise their hands.
And even more shocking is that if help was offered to get rid of the clutter, most people would refuse the offer. Most people are unwilling to get rid of the clutter.
Why? Why is “Stuff” So Important to Us?
Underneath all addictions lies fear – of emptiness, helplessness, loneliness and aloneness. Addictions are a way to feel safe from feeling these difficult and painful feelings, and an addiction to clutter is no exception. It’s all about having a sense of control over feeling safe. Clutter, like all addictions, provides a momentary feeling of comfort. However, as with any addiction, the clutterer needs more and more clutter to maintain the illusion of safety and comfort.
Let’s look at an example. The death of a family member may uncover huge amounts of clutter in the deceased’s home. The house may have always looked neat and clean, but the cupboards and drawers were filled with clutter. There may be 6 broken hair dryers in one cabinet. Why would someone keep six broken hair dryers?
That person may have grown up during the depression and always had a fear of not having enough. No matter how much she accumulated materially, she never felt that she had enough. The six hair dryers made her feel safe from her fear, even if they didn’t work.
When we don’t feel safe on the inner level, then we try to make ourselves feel safe on the outer level, and clutter is one way of doing that. Whether it’s things, such as hair dryers, clutter addicts do not trust that they will have what they need. Clutter addicts may also be resistant people who see messiness and clutter as a way of not being controlled by someone who wants them to be neat.
Healing the Addiction to Clutter
Clutter is created and maintained by a wounded, frightened part of ourselves, the wounded part that operates from the illusion of having control over people, events, and outcomes. As long as this wounded part is in charge of the decisions, we will continue to accumulate clutter as a way to provide comfort and feeling safe, or continue to be messy as a way to resist being controlled.
Healing from an addiction to clutter occurs when the individual does the inner work necessary to develop a strong, loving perception of self. A loving adult is capable of taking loving action on our own behalf.
The loving adult operates from truth rather than from the false beliefs of ourselves, and knows that the comfort and safety that clutter seems to provide is an illusion: that no matter how much clutter accumulates, we still feel afraid. Safety and integrity do not lie in resistance. Only when you feel capable do you create a sense of inner safety and then the clutter no longer has an emotional hold on you making it easier to eliminate it from your space.