Author Topic: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".  (Read 8528 times)

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kareng57

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #15 on: December 01, 2012, 11:37:03 PM »
Anyone who has cleared out an elderly person's home - either after a death, or a major-downsizing - will attest that there is stuff that absolutely no one will want.  Some of it's a no-brainer, such as canned foods or condiments in the basement fridge that expired in 1996.  (I'm not kidding, my mom had containers of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup that still showed her wearing the head-scarf).

But sometimes it's less clear, such as casserole dishes that have a chip or two in the rim.  They still seem to be perfectly serviceable - but the reality is that even a thrift shop or a "free" source probably won't take them.  My DS #2 actually had a good mindset about this - reminding my siblings and myself that Mom had been through the Depression and WW2 rationing, and it's hard to get rid of the mindset that Someone ought to be able to make use of this stuff.  The reality is that these days, unfortunately, they just can't.

hyzenthlay

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #16 on: December 01, 2012, 11:38:32 PM »
I use the guidelines from The Flylady.

'If you don't use it twice a year and if it doesn't make you smile, get rid of it.'

It's let me cut memorabilia down by 2/3rds, junk clothes that don't fit me, let my kids ditch their old toys, and generally keep my possessions to a reasonable level.

stargazer

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2012, 12:01:24 AM »
I have the hardest time with paperwork that I probably don't need but have a hard time throwing away.  Maybe if I could find my paper shredder again I would feel better about throwing out old statements and such.  I also keep financial magazines probably past their prime although I can throw those out more easily if they are more than six months old so I never have more than 6 and I think right now I only have 3.  Anything with my name or my husband's name on it - I have a hard time. 

mbbored

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2012, 01:56:25 AM »
I sometimes feel "Hey, I spent money on that!" I'm not poor, but my budget is certainly tight, so I hate to feel like I've wasted money and getting rid of something I paid for makes me feel like I wasted money on that item.

cicero

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2012, 06:46:48 AM »
i tend to not hold on to "things". and when DS and I ran away from ex husband, we purged a LOT of things (as in "left them behind"). suddenly my house was clean and neat and uncluttered. ex husband is a hoarder - he held on to everything (his mother was a holocaust survivor, his father was a soldier in WWII (hungary) and lost his entire family in the holocaust).

I do have a problem with clothing - good clothing that "i will fit into some day". and also with gifts - not that i get a lot of gifts but i always feel guitly about getting rid of gifts, even if i don't like them. Since I don't have a lot of clutter, i allow myself to hold on to unwanted gifts. With the clothing that doesn't fit, at some point i put them in a bag, put a note on it with the date and a note "if not used in one year then throw out". and i do.

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pwv

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #20 on: December 02, 2012, 06:51:01 AM »
When I was little, my parents had this oddly shaped piece of wire hanging on a hook in the kitchen.  No one knew what it was for, but they refused to throw it out in case it was "important."  Dad was in the Navy, so this wire traveled across country every few years, and even made the trip to Hawaii and back.  After dad had retired, one thanksgiving we were preparing the turkey and discovered an oddly shaped piece of wire holding the turkey legs together.   After throwing it in the trash, they agreed they could also throw away the "might be important" wire.

Garden Goblin

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #21 on: December 02, 2012, 11:17:01 AM »
In my case, I had so little growing up that was 'mine', I tend to be very territorial about my belongings.  Even stuff I bought with my own money or was gifted or won was fair game for my mother to throw out in one of her crazy episodes, and I had to share everything with my sisters no matter how badly they treated it or whether they left it out in the living room for my mother to decide it was a 'mess' and throw it away.

Sometimes I kick myself in the rear and do a purge, but may the gods help anyone else who dares.

Amara

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #22 on: December 02, 2012, 01:36:21 PM »
I immediately thought of this discussion last night when I was reading a few of the Metropolitan Home magazines I got yesterday. In the May/June 1997 issue is an article by Joyce Maynard titled "In My Backyard: How a Flea Market Maven Sold Off a Quarter-Century's Worth of Collectibles in Order to Start a Streamlined New Life in California." (I tried to find the article online but could not.)

In it, she talks about this issue. Yard sales and flea markets, she points out, make sense financially ("you get so much more for so much less money"). Plus, they also allow you to get "glimpses into so many households and lives." But she also noted that her possessions were making her feel "weighed down by the sheer volume . . . and the time it took caring for and keeping track of them." So she decided to have a yard sale.

Quote
"This must be sad for you, seeing all your stuff disappear," several people said to me, and of course, I could see why they might think that. But the truth was, though the day held a lot of poignancy, it was a wonderful one. I felt as if I were scattering wildflower seeds al over my town; a teacup here, a beaded evening gown there, a garden sculpture of a chicken, my collection of plastic cake-decorating accessories and cookie cutters. And in every one of those households, where something that used to be ours ended up, there would be mothers making cookies, or women having tea with a friend, or children discovering a chicken in the garden, or fathers shaking up martinis to the tune of "How Dry I Am."

. . .

Six months since our sale, here's what I have concluded: The world is full of beautiful, funny, memorable, bizarre and lovable objects. There's no way to hold onto them all anyway, except in your memory. Knowing I can't take them with me, I'd rather put them in good hands while I'm around to enjoy it, than leave my children with the heart-wrenching task of disposing of them . . . without me there to help. Or leave them weighed down themselves in the same unhealthy way I was coming to be myself. . . . Going through a process like this one leaves you with a changed perspective.

. . .

There is a hidden price to acquisition, not reflected in the cost of so-called bargains. Carrying an item home. Finding a place for it. Dusting it. Worrying that it might break. Chasing after your kids when they leave it in a different place from where it's supposed to be. Having to deal with it when you move. From now on I consider all these questions before I take out my wallet.


happygrrl

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #23 on: December 02, 2012, 02:36:43 PM »
There is imdded a hidden price to an acquisions; a wise person once told me that we do not really own our possessions=they own us.

I am a combination of emotional and "maybe I'll use it" mindset. I have 2 very distant relatives, but other than that, I don't have a family, so by default, my stuff from when I was a kid becomes my memories since I don't have anyone to say to, "Hey, do you remember that walking doll that I had when we were kids?"  or something like that. I have paired down majorly, but I still need to get rid of more.

And as for the "maybe I'll use it" mentality, I've went from having it all to being homeless in my car in the blink of an eye, and that made me loath the throw away somethings. I've gotten better, and i see a purge coming on the spring.
"I am the laziest person on Earth. I want to learn to photosynthesize so I can buy a sun lamp and survive without getting out of bed."  M-theory 11/23/10

Lynn2000

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #24 on: December 03, 2012, 11:21:44 AM »
Great thread. I've been thinking about this a lot lately as the holiday season (aka gift-getting time) approaches, and I look around my very small apartment at all the STUFF. Mostly, they are things I really like and want, and will in fact use someday, but I honestly don't need to have THAT much stored up in advance. Books, blank notebooks, craft supplies, DVDs, magazines, etc.. So that's a case where I need to use what I have already, and stop acquiring more until I get a little ahead of the game.

Sometimes I keep stuff because it made sense at the time (years ago) to keep it; and now, I could get rid of it, but that would involve digging out the storage containers from where I've so expertly tucked them. Kind of bizarre, now that I think about it--I use those places to store things that I really want to hang on to, but they're so inaccessible, I can't use them to store anything I'll actually want to use anytime soon.  :P

Sometimes I feel bad just chucking something in the trash because I think, "Surely someone could use this!" But am I really going to go to the work of finding that person? Gently used clothes are pretty easy to donate, but what about textbooks from ten years ago? I feel bad throwing a book in the trash, but I know I'm never going to read it again, and it's probably at least a couple editions behind whatever the class requires today.

Also my dad's family are hoarders/keepers. Any space my dad gets fills up with junk mail and the like that he just can't part with. It is a deep-seated emotional thing, almost a phobia or anxiety--my dad is so nice and mild-mannered and easy-going, but if you threaten to throw out one plastic sack of ten-year-old grocery store sales fliers he just morphs into this entirely different, angry person. If he sits down and takes the time to go through the sack, he'll end up throwing out some (but not all) of it, but even doing that is visibly hard for him. His siblings are like this too. The worst part is that they don't actually take care of stuff--they'll always say, "Oh, keep that, we might need it later," but then when they really do need it, they either can't find the thing in the mess, or it's broken and useless because it was just at the bottom of a pile somewhere instead of really stored. Seeing this kind of thing is what really causes me to constantly rethink my stuff, look for whatever small amount I can get rid of, make sure I'm storing things properly so I can find them and use them if necessary, etc..

Perhaps oddly, I don't really attach much significance to gifts in particular. I love to get (and give) gifts, but I can throw something in the trash as soon as I get home, or regift it, and still think warmly about the person who gave it to me. I don't get much in the way of home decor, clothes, etc.--it's more like books, and I will cheerfully say I haven't read it yet if someone asks.
~Lynn2000

Just Lori

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #25 on: December 03, 2012, 11:38:56 AM »
I tend to wrap memories and emotions around intangible items.  Hence, I have a huge garbage bag full of stuffed animals in my basement.  I will have to ask my husband to take them to the thrift store, because I look at those and can remember when my daughters played Pet Shop or School with a full roster of furry students.  I miss those days alot, particularly when I'm dealing with teen-aged surliness.

I alos hate to throw away things that someone might need.  So I'm donating "Windows 95 for Idiots."  Maybe there's a vintage collector who scours library sales for those kinds of things.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2012, 12:10:26 PM »
If something is actually damaged or broken, I have no problem throwing it out.  But I do try to find out if it is recyclable, first.  I can recycle cloth, electronics, metal, etc.  And one of the centres in town will give you money for electronics and metal, based on weight.  It isn't much but it makes me feel better about pitching the items in question.  I'm also pretty good about purging clothes.  Higher quality stuff that doesn't fit anymore or I'm tired of, I'll take to a consignment store.  If it doesn't sell, they donate it to a women's shelter, if I don't go back and pick it up after the consignment period ends.  Cheaper quality stuff, I'll donate to Goodwill or to a lady who runs a small charity handing out food and clothes, since a friend of mine knows her quite well.

I do have a hard time getting rid of things that people have given me, especially if it came from my mother, since she's gone now.  I'm getting better at it.  When my Dad passes, I hope I'll have an easier time getting rid of stuff I don't want, either donating or selling it.

I have a set of book shelves built into my spare bedroom wall.  Once the shelves are full - and it is getting close - I will make myself donate books that are less treasured.  The local hospital runs a book drive every spring.  I've started using an e-reader so that has cut down on the number of books I've been buying.

I have a good system for paper; it might take a while to get around to shredding the pile but I have a box set aside to put the stuff in that needs to be shredded.  I keep 6 years plus the current year of records, since tax stuff has to be kept that long.  When I do my taxes, I shred the oldest set of records.

A year ago, we rented a dumpster and my brother and I went home to help my Dad clean out a bunch of stuff.  We filled that thing.  And there is still more to go but we made a huge dent.  Dad will be moving to a smaller place soon so we'll have to go through some more of that stuff and keep pitching.  I found it really difficult because we pitched stuff that could have been donated or recycled.  But if we'd taken the time to separate everything, we would have been there for a week or more.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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magicdomino

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2012, 12:14:51 PM »
Anyone who has cleared out an elderly person's home - either after a death, or a major-downsizing - will attest that there is stuff that absolutely no one will want.  Some of it's a no-brainer, such as canned foods or condiments in the basement fridge that expired in 1996.  (I'm not kidding, my mom had containers of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup that still showed her wearing the head-scarf).

But sometimes it's less clear, such as casserole dishes that have a chip or two in the rim.  They still seem to be perfectly serviceable - but the reality is that even a thrift shop or a "free" source probably won't take them.  My DS #2 actually had a good mindset about this - reminding my siblings and myself that Mom had been through the Depression and WW2 rationing, and it's hard to get rid of the mindset that Someone ought to be able to make use of this stuff. The reality is that these days, unfortunately, they just can't.

It might be more precise to say that Someone won't make use of it, rather than can't.  Can you use a chipped casserole dish?  Yes, you might even be able to use it for a casserole, as opposed to feeding animals or as a water "saucer" for plants.  If you are having trouble paying the rent and buying groceries (like during the Depression or in really poverty-stricken areas), you'll keep it.  But once you have a little money, a new casserole dish doesn't cost that much (unless it is Le Cruset or Henri Emile), certainly not enough to deal with germs or a potentially self-shattering dish.  Thrift shops don't want chipped dishes because people won't buy them.  It costs just as much to ship damaged goods to poverty-stricken areas as it does to ship used-but-like-new goods, and it isn't much more to buy cheap new goods.

The problem comes when new stuff comes in faster than old stuff gets used up and thrown out.  My mother seldom bought anything other than groceries, but accumulated huge amounts of stuff because what did come in never left.  Glass jars do come in handy occasionally, so she carefully washed-out and stored every coffee, pickle, jelly, and mayonaise jar that happened to enter the house.   One of her friends had a necklace made from styrofoam egg cartons.  When Mother passed away, she had a huge box filled with styrofoam egg cartons, enough to make millions of necklaces even though she never made one.

I inherited the pack-rat gene, but try to fight it. 
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 12:19:25 PM by magicdomino »

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2012, 12:19:29 PM »
If something is actually damaged or broken, I have no problem throwing it out.  But I do try to find out if it is recyclable, first.  I can recycle cloth, electronics, metal, etc.  And one of the centres in town will give you money for electronics and metal, based on weight.  It isn't much but it makes me feel better about pitching the items in question.  I'm also pretty good about purging clothes.  Higher quality stuff that doesn't fit anymore or I'm tired of, I'll take to a consignment store.  If it doesn't sell, they donate it to a women's shelter, if I don't go back and pick it up after the consignment period ends.  Cheaper quality stuff, I'll donate to Goodwill or to a lady who runs a small charity handing out food and clothes, since a friend of mine knows her quite well.

I do have a hard time getting rid of things that people have given me, especially if it came from my mother, since she's gone now.  I'm getting better at it.  When my Dad passes, I hope I'll have an easier time getting rid of stuff I don't want, either donating or selling it.

I have a set of book shelves built into my spare bedroom wall.  Once the shelves are full - and it is getting close - I will make myself donate books that are less treasured.  The local hospital runs a book drive every spring.  I've started using an e-reader so that has cut down on the number of books I've been buying.

I have a good system for paper; it might take a while to get around to shredding the pile but I have a box set aside to put the stuff in that needs to be shredded.  I keep 6 years plus the current year of records, since tax stuff has to be kept that long.  When I do my taxes, I shred the oldest set of records.

A year ago, we rented a dumpster and my brother and I went home to help my Dad clean out a bunch of stuff.  We filled that thing.  And there is still more to go but we made a huge dent.  Dad will be moving to a smaller place soon so we'll have to go through some more of that stuff and keep pitching.  I found it really difficult because we pitched stuff that could have been donated or recycled.  But if we'd taken the time to separate everything, we would have been there for a week or more.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
Ontario

lowspark

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #29 on: December 03, 2012, 12:21:15 PM »
I've been on a "major" decluttering mission for the last year and a half. I didn't realize how much stuff I had that I didn't really need or even want anymore but when my older son moved out I decided to repurpose his bedroom and by the same token, the spare bedroom. And that led to going through multiple closets.

The reason it is taking so long is that I'm doing it slowly, bit by bit, so that a) it isn't an overwhelming task and b) I can sell stuff that actually has value. I've sold a bunch of stuff on ebay and craigslist and continue to do so. In addition I've given away a ton of stuff.

I work on it when I can, mostly on weekends. I might spend an hour or six hours or 15 minutes, depending what it is I'm doing. Clean out one drawer, list 10 items on ebay, pack up bags for charity, etc.

I also revisit stuff I've previously decided to keep. Just yesterday there were a couple of things I'd previously set aside as "keepers" which were important to me. Well, they were important to me 30 years ago! I keep reminding myself that whatever I don't get rid of, my kids will have to deal with. Those things are in the "to sell" pile now.

I am trying to get rid of (almost) everything that is not either being used or displayed or somehow still relevant in my life. If its only purpose is to sit in a box in a closet, it needs to either come out of that box and get repurposed or it needs to go.

It's still an ongoing project and I don't expect to finish any time soon. But things are definitely continually progressing!

I should add that a huge amount of the stuff I'm getting rid of are small collectible items that do have value. I'd collected them and then quit and never did anything with them. So each of them has to be photgraphed and listed on ebay which takes a lot of time and work.

Oh! and in the meantime, younger son moved out. He had a ton of stuff to contribute to the "this is worth something but I don't want it anymore" pile so I've been working my way through listing his stuff for sale as well. One of these days, all that stuff will be gone and I won't know what to do with myself! LOL

Reading through this, it sounds like I'm a hoarder. I'm not. Really! My house is pretty well kept and neat, it's not overwhelmed by junk. It's just that I do have a lot of closet space and places to store stuff so what happens is stuff gets stored and forgotten about. I've discovered many things that I'd intended to use and just forgot I even had them when the time came to use them. It doesn't happen often and I've learned not to do that anymore. I remodeled my kitchen 8 years ago and swore I'd never buy anymore gadgets and I've studk to that so it's not a real problem of no control, more just a problem of not realizing how much stuff I'd gathered.