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Author Topic: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".  (Read 18913 times)

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stitchygreyanonymouse

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #45 on: December 04, 2012, 02:24:11 PM »
This is something Iíve been thinking about and exploring over the past two or so years. I grew up pretty poor and was raised partly by depression-era or depression-effected grandparents and a depressed mother who got so overwhelmed by a cluttered house that it would never be cleaned because she didnít know where to start.

So, between my childhood of clutter, as well as having lost most of my personal belongings in a series of evictions that also happened when I was a kid, I get really emotionally attached. I also have a pack-rat "this could be useful" mentality.

I have to say thoughógetting rid of stuff is starting to feel incredibly freeing. And I love having an uncluttered house. It helps that Iím not so poor as an adult that Iíve realized that I can get rid of things like that lotion I didnít really like, because I can *gasp* buy the kind I do like! And replace it when I run out! Or on the flip side, I can use that gifted organic soap I really, really do like, because I can buy it for myself if I choose to.

Itís an ongoing battle though. As time has passed, Iíve been abel to winnow down my collection of sentimental items to a small box. I still have a lot of issues with the ideas of having spent money on something or that it will be useful. We keep certain boxes if space allows, namely for electronics in case they need to be transported, but having just bought a house that we plan on staying in for a good long while, itís easier to say "weíre not going to be moving this TV, so why keep the box?"

Now, my craft supplies are another story. But, my SO and I each have our vices of things to hold on to (does he really need his collection of Mac OS disks spanning from 8.0 to 10.6 or that 1990s sweater from his grandmother that he hasnít worn since that decade?). Luckily, weíre on the same page of getting rid of other things so that we can have some exceptions.

Sophia

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #46 on: December 04, 2012, 03:04:55 PM »
I've recently flipped from a clothes hoarder to a clothing de-clutterer.  I know that until recently it was because money was tight and I didn't want to get rid of any clothes I might need.  I also kept clothes with stains on them for "wearing around the house".  Then I lost 50 pounds since this summer (still more to do but I'm just maintaining at the moment)  I changed to being a clothing de-clutterer.  Now that I found a way to lose weight, I know I won't need the larger sizes and I've done some serious decluttering in my closet.  I even found some crushed velvet stirrup pants in the closet.  When was the last time anyone saw one of those? 

CakeEater

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #47 on: December 04, 2012, 03:22:50 PM »
I was thinking about this more over night, and I've decided that sometimes I don't want to get rid of stuff because it means admitting my own failure. Getting rid of my skinny jeans that I haven't fit for 5 years means I'm admitting my failure to get back into them. Getting rid of the half-done craft means I failed to finish it. Getting rid of the painting I bought 8 years ago but haven't displayed means I made a failure in judgement at the time of the purchase.

I want to hang on to the idea that actually I can get that diet workng/will eventually finish/did make a good decision.

lowspark

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #48 on: December 04, 2012, 03:29:03 PM »
Oh yeah, I'm the same way. But then by the same token you can turn it around (as I try to) and get rid of something because then it's no longer hanging around, taunting you and reminding you of your (perceived) failure. If it's out of my house and I don't see it anymore, I can forget it ever existed and therefore forget my failure.
Houston 
Texas 
USA 

Lynn2000

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #49 on: December 04, 2012, 05:04:13 PM »
This thread inspired me to do some decluttering last night and throw stuff out! So I did a couple hours of inhaling dust, getting stuck under a table, and moving heavy things at strange angles. I threw out several old textbooks (barely used... shows you just how hard I worked in those classes!) and a bunch of related school papers/notes. Not anything creative like essays, but exams and notes mostly. I briefly thought about keeping some, but I wasn't much interested in looking at them myself, and I figured I wouldn't be interested in showing them to anyone else ever, because 1) if I've already forgotten most of the material, it's a bit silly to crow over a good grade; and 2) several of them did NOT have such good grades. Best to dispose of that evidence post-haste. Found some CDs I hadn't ripped onto my computer yet, so that was useful. Then I packed other things that I still want to keep (FOR NOW) into the freed-up space.

And when I was all done cleaning up... yeah, probably no one could tell I'd even done anything.  ::) But it's a start, right?
~Lynn2000

Coralreef

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #50 on: December 04, 2012, 05:24:29 PM »
When I left my EX, I had one evening/night to pack up.  A lot was left behind and I'm still alive.  I've never really had strong emotional ties to objects except for a few family heirlooms my kids will eventually get.  EX had strong hoarding tendencies : a jar full of rusted bolts and nuts he would 'derust' at some point, every single carboard box he laid his hands on, 25 years old nonworking radio we had to schlep from apartment to apartment to house, etc. 

My mother would never throw anything away.  When she went to the assisted living center, we found so much stuff, most of it useless. 

I am very careful not to buy anything that will give me work (dusting, cleaning) or that is not absolutely needed.  If it stops working and is not fixable, out it goes.  If it doesn't fit, out.  If it doesn't give me some enjoyment, out.  I even got a kindle just so I can buy books that won't take physical space. 

When I was taking programming courses (way, way back, in the time of the dinosaurs) the teacher told us about GIGO : Garbage In, Garbage Out.  Maybe this applies to more than computers, if I don't fill my house, I won't have to declutter it. 
"It's not the years in your life that count, it's the life in your years." - Office coffee cup.

hobish

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #51 on: December 04, 2012, 06:15:16 PM »
This is something Iíve been thinking about and exploring over the past two or so years. I grew up pretty poor and was raised partly by depression-era or depression-effected grandparents and a depressed mother who got so overwhelmed by a cluttered house that it would never be cleaned because she didnít know where to start.

So, between my childhood of clutter, as well as having lost most of my personal belongings in a series of evictions that also happened when I was a kid, I get really emotionally attached. I also have a pack-rat "this could be useful" mentality.

I have to say thoughógetting rid of stuff is starting to feel incredibly freeing. And I love having an uncluttered house. It helps that Iím not so poor as an adult that Iíve realized that I can get rid of things like that lotion I didnít really like, because I can *gasp* buy the kind I do like! And replace it when I run out! Or on the flip side, I can use that gifted organic soap I really, really do like, because I can buy it for myself if I choose to.

Itís an ongoing battle though. As time has passed, Iíve been abel to winnow down my collection of sentimental items to a small box. I still have a lot of issues with the ideas of having spent money on something or that it will be useful. We keep certain boxes if space allows, namely for electronics in case they need to be transported, but having just bought a house that we plan on staying in for a good long while, itís easier to say "weíre not going to be moving this TV, so why keep the box?"

Now, my craft supplies are another story. But, my SO and I each have our vices of things to hold on to (does he really need his collection of Mac OS disks spanning from 8.0 to 10.6 or that 1990s sweater from his grandmother that he hasnít worn since that decade?). Luckily, weíre on the same page of getting rid of other things so that we can have some exceptions.

Yep. This really resonates with me.
It's alright, man. I'm only bleeding, man. Stay hungry, stay free, and do the best you can.
~Gaslight Anthem

Jones

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #52 on: December 04, 2012, 06:28:17 PM »
My problem is the kitchen. I have three objects that do similar things...but not the same! I have two sets of china (totally different colors, different occasions) and "everyday" dishes. Different sizes of pans and bowls, different types of bakeware. The "linen closet" is an extension of the kitchen. I do not have room for more kitcheny stuff. But....it's all utilized, most of it regularly, so I can't dispose of any either. Sigh.
ďA real desire to believe all the good you can of others and to make others as comfortable as you can will solve most of the problems.Ē CS Lewis

Dindrane

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #53 on: December 04, 2012, 09:54:10 PM »
I have found, since moving out on my own, that the majority of my issues with "stuff" stem from either laziness or poor organization.

When I was growing up, I'm pretty sure that both of those came into play, although there was more to it than that. It's hard to have a realistic picture of what's worth keeping and what's not when you try to throw something away, and one of your parents says, "no, hang on to that, you might need it." It also doesn't help when you throw things out and later regret it, or when your parents get rid of stuff and you only find out because you went looking for it.

When I moved into my current apartment, it was after moving across the country with just the contents of my Honda Civic. The only thing I asked my parents to ship to me was books. I actually did cram a surprising amount of stuff into that car, but it really wasn't all that much in the grand scheme of things. I left a lot of my childhood belongings behind, and did some serious decluttering before I moved out. My parents are hanging on to a lot of things for me that I will eventually have to either get rid of or reclaim, but I get rid of or reclaim at least a few things whenever I go home to visit.

The problem now, though, is that while I had very few belongings when I first moved in here, it mostly meant I had no way to organize anything. My apartment is not blessed with much built-in storage, so I ended up accumulating more than I really need or want just because I had no good way to really keep track of it all. What I find now, after buying a lot of primarily storage and organizational furniture, is that it takes me a long time to really use my space the way I want to. I have to go through what I have, sort out what I want from what I don't, and then determine the best way to organize everything. There are a million other things I'd rather do with my free time than that, so change is incremental at best.

Plus, when I first moved in, I kind of figured on at least moving to a new apartment relatively quickly, so I saved a lot of boxes and things that I would not otherwise have kept. That was 5 years ago, and I'm still here. We're still facing a cross-country move at some point, but I decided several years ago that there was no way I was saving boxes for that, both because they took up valuable space, and because I don't even want to think about packing up this apartment with the odds and ends of my move out here. Even if it costs money, I'll buy new boxes so that I have some shot at organizing things in a way that makes sense. The only boxes I've hung on to are for specific, fragile, and difficult to pack items that I know will be moving with me when we get to that point.

In the end, I haven't really gotten better about getting rid of things so much as I've gotten better at being organized (so I know what I have and what room I have available for storage) and sorting out the things I want from the things I'd really rather get rid of. That means that I am far less likely to throw something out and regret it later, because I'm not just pitching things in a random fit of decluttering. I'm actually planning what I really want to keep. I don't even really remember most of the things I get rid of these days, and if I regret it, it's the equivalent of a small sigh and shrug of the shoulders.


JoW

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #54 on: December 04, 2012, 10:05:25 PM »
..... We put together a 72 hour rule on cardboard boxes in the condo. We have 72 hours when a box arrives to use it for a specific purpose or it goes into the recycling bin. Otherwise we'd have enough cardboard to build a third bedroom.
My garage needs a serious cleaning.  I just through stuff out there in the spare parking space.  That clutter includes boxes of various sizes.

I make Christmas ornaments for family members every year.  I mailed this year's ornaments this past Sunday.  I packed them in small boxes I found in the garage clutter.  Which reinforces my hording tendencies.  But at least I got rid of those 5 boxes. 



We moved a lot when I was a kid.  I think some of my hording traits come from that.  Home is where your stuff is.   

ThatGirl

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #55 on: December 05, 2012, 06:41:34 AM »
This post is so timely! DF and I moved from a 2-bed house to a 4-bed house over the weekend and I nearly lost my mind over the sheer amount of cr@p we had to shift - much of it being unloved and unused stuff that had been dug out of cupboards and drawers at our parents' houses when we moved in together over 2 years ago, was consigned to a cupboard or drawer in the house we moved into, and has now been exhumed a second time, still unloved and unwanted.

Both of us have annoying little hoarding tendencies if I'm honest - he loves DVDs (over 500 at my estimate) and isn't keen to throw away electronics and suchlike, even if they don't work and became obsolete years ago. Whereas I have a hard time parting with clothes, which I put down to growing up poor and never having much more than my school uniform coupled with a painful obsession with fashion. But this time I'm putting my foot down - we filled a small house almost to bursting in 2 years, so if we're not careful I shudder to think what we could do in this big house! So I'm spending the Christmas break sorting, throwing away, ebaying and donating as much of the clutter as I can (he doesn't know yet. Hopefully the wedding will still be on when he finds out!)

The posters who talked about Depression-era people who hoard things reminded me of my lovely Nanna - she grew up in Liverpool and lived through the Blitz (air raids, rationing), and when she passed away last summer we found so much stuff squirrelled away. Cupboards full of food and literally hundreds of pieces of clothing and underwear, mostly unworn, were donated to her church and a local women's refuge - it actually helped in a way, knowing that her accumulated stuff would be doing some good in her community.

Cricket

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #56 on: December 05, 2012, 10:42:28 AM »
BarensMom: I've been reading through this thread, thinking when I get to the end I'd add my own thoughts. After I started reading your post, I had the thought, "Oh, I've already posted." Then I had a chuckle when I realised it was your post. My hubby is exactly the same about boxes, lol.

A couple of times I've become so frustrated with the clutter we have in our house, that I yell, "We have to much useless carp in this house!!" DH says, "I'll take some of it up to the shed". He then complains that there's so much in the shed that he can't find stuff he needs. I tell him we seriously need to get rid of things and his reasoning is "it might come in handy one day" or, "it's still works. Maybe we can sell it on ebay." But I hate selling stuff and he won't, and he doesn't let me donate to charity because we (meaning I) could sell it.

When I do declutter the kitchen, he pores through the bags to make sure I'm not getting rid of anything "useful". Most of it ends up in the shed or back in the cupboards. BLAH

As he gets older he is getting worse. I hang on to stuff, too, but at least my stuff really is useful ;)

After reading this thread, I am going to start decluttering my stuff and hope that he will follow suit when he sees how much happier and freer I am, and how much room we have to move once more.


Tea Drinker

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #57 on: December 05, 2012, 10:55:29 AM »
A lot of the difficulty seems to be agreeing with a spouse on what to keep and what not. Some of that is pretty straightforward: different people cherish different books, for example, but if we agree on "keep books only if either we expect to reread them, or they have serious sentimental value" we can start to weed. It's a slow process, and I think that's partly that there are almost always more interesting things to do, and partly that it's hard to admit "no, I won't reread this. I'm not the person who liked X anymore." But at least we have an agreement in principle.

Other things, well, if we disagree on boxes or old electronics or such, they tend to stay. And anything that one of us has piled on our own desk, the other is unlikely to say anything about. And then inertia sets in.

And no, I don't know how a bank statement from 2001 surfaced on my table yesterday. But I do know where the shredder is, so out it went.
Any advice that requires the use of a time machine may safely be ignored.

Sophia

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #58 on: December 05, 2012, 11:42:09 AM »
...When I do declutter the kitchen, he pores through the bags to make sure I'm not getting rid of anything "useful". Most of it ends up in the shed or back in the cupboards. BLAH...

A previous boyfriend now known as Mistake and a hoarder used to do that.  One day it started when I accidentally threw away one of my favorite shirts.  I tossed the shirt into the hamper and unknowingly missed and it ended up in the trash.  Mistake saw it in the trash and asked if I'd meant to toss it.  I was grateful that he'd seen it, because I did love that shirt.  After that he started to go through the trash when I threw stuff out.  If he thought I would object, he would hide the stuff. 

I am embarrassed to say that instead of a Huge Discussion with Lots of Emphasis, I would put broken glass on top in the trash whenever I threw stuff out.  I never broke anything intentionally but when I did, it was a cause for some quick decluttering. 

I will never forget the day that now-DH then-new boyfriend stopped to garbage pick through some remodeling debris.  He came back with nothing, and I fell a little in love. 

magicdomino

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Re: Why do people find it so hard to get rid of "stuff".
« Reply #59 on: December 06, 2012, 10:23:14 AM »
When I do declutter the kitchen, he pores through the bags to make sure I'm not getting rid of anything "useful". Most of it ends up in the shed or back in the cupboards. BLAH

My mother used to do that.    Even when she had moved out and I was renting the house from her (Dirt cheap rent, but I had her Stuff as a roomie.   ::) ), she would go through the trash at the curb to see if I was throwing out anything "good."

Once when we were still in the same house, we had a particularly stubborn insect infestation.  I went through all of the kitchen cabinets and tossed everything that wasn't in a jar.  Got rid of the bugs, but good heavens, did I hear about throwing away a box of tapioca.  Never mind that the box had been there since I was a child, and I was in my early twenties.  Never mind that nobody particularly liked tapioca, and thus were unlikely to ever use it.  That box was unopened, and therefore was still good.  I *gasp* Wasted Food.  She complained about that for years!  ::)  Then Mother wondered why I never again volunteered to clean out anything.