Cluttered Craniums

Having trouble throwing away those old odds and ends? Hanging on to that broken picture frame that can’t actually frame a picture anymore? How about that growing 5-year-old collection of buttons that your cat keeps stealing? What about the used-to-be-white, jelly-stained sweat shirt (with the spoiled zipper), that you wore 8 years ago in college? If this is what you’re going through, it’s probably safe to say that you’re struggling with getting rid of clutter.

Yale School of Medicine says that in their study, when asking participants whether they wanted to keep or discard of certain items, some of them showed higher activity in the areas of the brain responsible for feelings of pain and conflict. The perfect perfectionist? That doesn’t exist! You‘d think the people who are obsessed about things being prim and proper, would be the same ones who would be less likely to keep storing stuff they don’t even need. Wrong. They’re the ones most likely to keep things in the event that they may need to use it someday. Perfectionists like to be prepared. If this is what you struggle with, it’s a good idea to start small.

Clean bit by bit – instead of doing a total clean sweep, look for areas that you can work on over time. “I need it!” Clutterers hold onto the fear of not having an item when they actually need it, that’s why they have so much trouble finding the strength to let stuff go. Psychologists have asked persons with this mentality, to imagine the consequences of not having an item at a time when they need it. Most times, the worst-case consequence isn’t as serious as the persons have rationalized it to be. However, this exercise seems to help persons to distinguish in which cases this mentality is rational or not. “I love it!” To many persons, some items hold some sort of sentimental value. Throwing away such an item out can cause a clutterer to feel a sense of loss or anguish. The fear comes from the rationale that once the item is gone, the sentiments will be gone too. In treatment, psychologists attempt to highlight to their clients that this line of thought is flawed – you can cherish a memory without the presence of the item that corresponds to it. They may even be able to take a picture of the treasured item instead of keeping the actual thing. “My great-grandmother-in-law made it for me.” You just don’t use some gifts anymore, but you keep them anyway. Why? Because some close friend or relative gave it to you and you’ll feel bad, if they feel bad that you threw or gave it away. Yes, it’s someone else’s expectation that causes you to keep the clutter.

Don’t do it!

Psychological professionals say that by putting some effective systems in place, persons get themselves to overcome psychological barriers (like lack of self-efficacy or indecisiveness) and learn how to keep their environment clutter-free. Remember, you don’t need to do it all at once. Move stuff out bit-by-bit and over time, things will look better. If you’re ever looking for a personal storage unit, or even a business storage unit, Just Right Self Storage, in the heart of Ottawa’s downtown core and only minutes away from Gatineau, is the place for you!