Oh man, this is where things start to get real. I took Julie Morgenstern’s quiz of yes and no questions about organization and found I answered “yes” to 10 of the 21. There are definitely some psychological issues at play here.
I’ve debated how deeply into my psyche I want to delve in this public space. I’m naturally pretty reticent about my internal life, but I want to be honest and authentic here, even while I maintain some sense of privacy. All that to say, I’ll talk in general, but not in specifics.
I have two major psychological obstacles, as defined by Morgenstern: “Need for Abundance” and “Need to Retreat.” I joke all the time about both my Depression era mindset (“You never know when you might need that!”) and my need to be alone; although, I don’t joke about how recharging with alone time can sometimes tip over into loneliness and isolation for me.
One of the most encouraging things Morgenstern wrote is, “No matter where this need for abundance comes from, the key is to work with and build around it, rather than fight against it.” I think my usual approach is to fight against my need for abundance, and that leads to a lot of failure. I do feel lighter when I get rid of things, but there are certain categories of stuff that are hard for me to get rid of, and that’s okay, I think. I can still collect some things, but I don’t need to collect all things. As she also wrote, “If you have a need for abundance, it is often better to organize what you have rather than try to force yourself to throw stuff out.”
The other area I found myself in is the “Need to Retreat.” I was surprised at how seen I felt when I read, “Some people use clutter as a protective shield, a barrier between themselves and the ‘outside world’ in the same way that many overweight people use their extra pounds as a ‘cushion’ for keeping others at a safe distance.” As a person who has struggled with my weight for that very reason, seeing a connection drawn between my extra pounds and my extra stuff made me understand it a lot better.
I often think that I let my weight provide an easy excuse for my prolonged singleness, and thinking about my clutter providing that same excuse is an epiphany of sorts. I still have to figure out the root cause for that cushion & somehow get past it, but knowing it’s there is enlightening and encouraging. To quote G.I. Joe, “Knowledge is half the battle.”