Most people associate the word “addict” with alcohol or drugs. Reality is that people can become addicted to either a substance or a behavior. As a professional organizer, I work with many clients who are addicted to stuff. What does this look like? Here are some of the signs:
- more stuff enters a space than leaves a space
- the urge to have the “latest and greatest” is strong
- shopping is used as a type of therapy
- although clutter may bother a person, it doesn’t affect the person enough to stop acquiring new items
So if you or someone you know is addicted to stuff, here are three ways to overcome these difficulties.
First, admit you have a problem. Now I realize that this may sound trite, but it is true. No one can accept help unless they are ready for it. As such, a person needs to acknowledge that they have a problem collecting too much stuff and that they are willing to receive help. This help comes in a number of forms: family, friends, self-help organizations, and professionals such as therapists, coaches and professional organizers. Each type of assistance comes with pluses and minuses. But the important piece is to recognize that there is a problem and that help should be obtained. If you can’t admit that you have a problem, what motivation do you have to take action?
Second, take action. The first step can be small or large; it just needs to be a step. It might be contacting someone – friend or professional – for assistance. You could decide not to shop anymore (whether it is in person, over the phone, or on the web). You could have a “no shopping buddy” that you contact when you have the urge to acquire. You could implement the one-in-one-out expectation which means that every time you bring a new item into your space you have to delete a similar item. Consistency will be a key factor in whatever action you decide to take.
Third, make substitutions. Smokers often find that chewing gum helps curb the desire to smoke. If you shop a lot, find something else to do. Instead of going to a store, read a book, exercise or take up a hobby. Block out shopping channels on your television or computer. Your stuff addiction is a response to something deeper, as such, you can’t just stop the behavior, you must replace it with something else.
Addiction can be powerful. This article highlights some of the ways to combat stuff addiction. However, like any addiction, stuff addiction is multi-faceted and usually needs intervention on a number of different levels. Here are a couple of places to look for help:
- National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization
- Messies Anonymous
- Squalor Survivors
- National Alliance on Mental Illness
Are you ready to conquer your addiction to stuff?
© 2008 Janice Russell. North Carolina’s first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Janice Russell, and her firm, Minding Your Matters® Organizing, have built a reputation for helping business and residential clients organize their space, items, documents, and time using the flexible structure principle™. Janice’s workshops on topics such as tackling the “no time” trap, perishing paper piles, and stopping stuff from being overwhelming are dynamic, informative, and practical. Minding Your Matters® is dedicated to helping people achieve organization with lasting results™ in their personal and professional lives. Janice is highly regarded within her industry. She is a Golden Circle Member of National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) and past president of the North Carolina Chapter of NAPO. Janice is the author of the book Get Organized This Year! and the audio Stop Letting Stuff Overwhelm You. For more information, please visit www.mindingyourmatters.com or call 919-467-7058.
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