The Hoarders Effect: Letting Go of Excess and Embracing The Freedom of Order

While I enjoy many television shows, including everything from Project Runway to the various incarnations of Law & Order, there are no other shows on television right now affecting my actions quite like A&E’s Hoarders and TLC’s Hoarding: Buried Alive. While I am not and never have been a hoarder, I do often have a difficult time parting with things. And while I do watch these shows with my mouth agape in disbelief much like others I’ve talked to who watch, I also feel a profound sympathy for the majority of people on the show.

A word that is used time and again, episode after episode, is “overwhelmed”. We have all been there – overwhelmed – whether at work, in school, or in a more general way, from stress and obligation. But the overwhelming feeling these hoarders have is so tangible, so harshly judged, so seemingly insurmountable at times. And with my sincere sympathy for all they are literally and emotionally up against comes a personal call to action – to never let that happen to me.

It is highly unlikely that most of us will ever wake up to a home as filled to the brim as the home of a hoarder without an ongoing awareness of what was happening. After all, a floor to ceiling pileup of goods doesn’t happen overnight. However, it does happen one item at a time. One pair of shoes, one Christmas decoration, one expired can of soup at a time. Luckily, ridding yourself of things and the possibility of ever becoming overwhelmed with physical goods also happens one item a time. One pair of shoes, one Christmas decoration, one expired can of soup at a time. And that is exactly how I pare my things down to ensure I never wake up to more things than I can use, enjoy, store, or quite simply, handle.

I don’t say this to downplay the mental, emotional aspect of what hoarders are dealing with, as I am certain there is something very strong at play that prevents them from being able to part with items as easily as most of us can. But as someone who does feel a sense of loss at letting go of certain items, I am increasingly aware of how important it is that I not let that sense of loss win. And the reward for reigning triumphant above it is far-reaching and fantastic. By keeping only what I love, I get to enjoy it more, whether it be a knickknack or a pair of well-fitting pants.

Each week, after watching an episode of Hoarders or Hoarding: Buried Alive, I tackle a new clutter project. These projects are usually small, such as going through all my socks and tossing those that I no longer wear, or those with holes. Each of these projects amounts to small changes that become big changes. For one, I never accidentally wear a pair of socks with holes in them again! For another, the basket in my wood closet that holds my socks is no longer filled to the top, making finding a matching pair a tricky task while detracting from the attractiveness of my closet itself. It’s an all-around win!

If you’re like me and you feel what I’ve termed “The Hoarders Effect” kick in after watching one of the many clutter shows on television – you know, the desire to throw everything away! – I invite you to join me on the journey to a life of less unnecessary stuff, a greater appreciation of the things you do love, more breathing room, and a neater, more functional home. I hope you’ll love looking into your wood closet full of only your favorites as much as I love looking into mine. And I hope you’ll take time to really grasp that getting organized and investing in things like closet systems is about making your home and your things work for you instead of against you. All while wearing a pair of socks without a hole to be found. 🙂