Accumulating stuff that has little intrinsic value and then assigning it a disproportionate amount of value is one major symptom of clutter hoarding. One of the worst ones for me was keeping practically every birthday card, Christmas card, Thanksgiving card, and any other type of card that anyone had ever given me, even if it was for a birthday that I had 10 years ago. I always felt guilty at even the thought of throwing those cards away, so I had a shoebox full of cards from over the years. This is yet another symptom of a hoarder; they attach such a sentimental value to everything that they feel it would be doing the giver of a gift an injustice if they were to throw it away, even long after the usefulness of the gift was obsolete. This attachment of “sentimental value” actually runs pretty deep; it’s a way to preserve your sense of sameness and normalness, and is actually an offshoot of the fear of the unknown. You’re afraid of letting go of things because of what they “mean” to you, and it’s always based in the past…it’s almost as if you believe that the way things were in the past is the best your life was ever going to be, so you want to keep the things that remind you of the past. You basically short-change yourself right out of believing that anything good (or even—gasp—BETTER) can happen to you in the future.
So in a sense, that old saying is true: “The human fear of losing something is greater than the human desire to have more.” This is an offshoot of a poverty mentality, one that says you have to hold on to everything you’ve got (or ever had), for fear that you may not get anything else like it again. That, my friends, is broke-minded thinking. A lot of what I’m learning about this hoarding disorder stuff is basically helping me to see how much my upbringing has had to do with my current state of living. Growing up, we never had anything more than just enough to stay afloat. There really was no such thing as having “disposable income” in our family; it was basically “Let’s rob Paul this month to pay Peter instead, since we owe him from last month.” So it was ingrained into me to hold on to whatever I had, because there may not be enough to make it next week. It’s really hard to let go of stuff when you’re not sure you’re going to see the likes of it again. This has obvious drawbacks, namely the fact that you’ll go into “hyper-accumulation” mode and not want to let go of ANYTHING. So, you begin to hoard and accumulate and clutter up your living space with all of these items that are basically worthless now, but will be “worth something” in the future (a little side note: That future date where these items all of a sudden gain in value by leaps & bounds never happens).
It’s amazing how as you go along, you begin to peel back layer after layer of this stupid hoarding disorder mentality, almost like an onion. I’m determined to eliminate the whole clutter hoarding way of thinking out of my mentality, and hopefully shed some light to help others along the way as well.