Do you have a problem with hoarding? Is clutter taking over your life?
You aren’t alone. As a therapist, I’ve been asked hundreds of times, “Why do I keep buying stuff I don’t need?” Yet every day, we’re brainwashed by clever marketing tricks encouraging us to buy even more.
From McDonald’s, “I’m loving it,” to the cute characters printed on cereal boxes with their eyes aiming down to peer lovingly into the eyes of excited, sugar-addicted children.
But it’s not all the fault of the big brands. There is a much deeper reason why we continuously succumb to the temptation of consumerism…
In today’s article, I’m going to reveal the truth about why we continue to fill our homes with stuff we often don’t want or need, along with my top tips as a therapist for overcoming this habit to have a happier, more fulfilled, clutter-free life.
Let’s get started.
The Thrill of the Purchase
Perhaps this weekend, you’re looking forward to going shopping?
You’ll go to the store and pick up an item that catches your eye, and you’ll tell yourself you couldn’t possibly leave without it.
As you buy your item, you feel great knowing you’ve secured your purchase—that’s because we often buy things to feel good, to satisfy a craving for fulfillment, enjoyment, and happiness.
That buzz may feel exhilarating at that moment, but let me tell you, it’s incredibly short-lived.
The feeling will last no more than a few minutes.
But we often fool ourselves into thinking that if we buy this one thing we’ve been dreaming about, we’ll be happy; we’ll not want to buy anything else for the rest of the month.
The reality is, once you own that item, you’ll soon be equally wishing for something else.
Let’s stop and think about this for a moment. If the things we buy actually make us feel good, why would we need more?
Just one piece?
It’s like craving a piece of chocolate cake.
All you can do is think about getting a slice.
At the time, you think it will make you feel better.
You tell yourself that eating this slice of chocolate cake will feel amazing. You won’t feel lonely, sad, or unfulfilled because you’ll be enjoying pure bliss while you bite into this delicious cake. It will deliver you everything you need.
But then, within moments, you’ve eaten it, and it’s…gone.
Sometimes you might eat it so quickly you think, “I didn’t even taste that, I need another slice.”
And this will almost certainly lead to regret.
Once you eat multiple slices of chocolate cake, you’ll always wish you stopped at one.
Now you still have all the same feelings you had before, but you also feel a bit sick.
And this is much like the aftermath of a shopping spree. You look around your home at everything you have collected, and they no longer make you feel fulfilled or happy.
Instead, items now fill up your home to the point where you feel even worse than when you didn’t have these things. Because not only do you have all the same feelings as before, you’re also now contending with living in a home that is cluttered, crowded, and full of things you don’t want.
Therefore, although they seem like they will make your life so much richer at the time, such objects carry very little value and can do much more harm than good.
Our Human Desire To Avoid Loss and Gain Control
As humans, we’re hardwired to link pain to loss. It’s actually three times more painful to lose than to gain.
That’s the reason why we say things such as, “I’ve lost my house,” or “I’ve lost my job.”
Loss is a painful word, and our minds are programmed to reject and repel us away from it.
This helps us understand why we have no problem buying new things and hoarding them in our homes. Our mind sees gaining things as a good thing, and it’s hardwired to move us towards that.
Hoarding also often provides a sense of certainty and control. That you will always have enough of everything you need or want, helping us feel safe—something our minds are programmed to move us toward.
But, of course, we’re never fully in control. We can only truly control one thing…our thoughts.
Thoughts are the only thing we can control and have a massive impact on the path our lives take.
Your thoughts control your feelings.
Your feelings control your actions.
And your actions control your events.
This leads me to the truth behind it all…
The Reason Why We Buy, Buy, Buy
So, with all this talk about thoughts, it’s about time we get to the real crux of the problem…
The feeling, “I am not enough.”
Not attractive enough, not interesting enough, not successful enough, not worthy enough.
And so you are left always needing more.
Because if you believed you were enough, you would never need to buy more to provide you with confidence, happiness, or fulfillment. You would already have all these things in abundance.
The impact of feeling not enough
Buying things, hoarding things, and allowing them to become clutter in your life all stem from the same belief—“I am not enough.”
The feeling of not being enough leaves you feeling empty.
And when you don’t believe you are enough, you will always want more.
You could fill your home up with all the material possessions in the world. But no matter how much you buy, you can never have enough.
And if you feel this way, you aren’t alone. In fact, 80% of the Western world doesn’t feel enough.
Even some of the world’s most talented, gifted people—Marilyn Monroe, George Michael, Whitney Houston—all felt like they were not enough.
This feeling, “I am not enough,” is why we buy things, hoard them, and allow them to clutter our homes. All because we hope they can fill the emptiness we feel.
You will never buy or have enough possessions to fill that emptiness. It is an emotional void. And you can’t fill it with physical items.
When you know you’re enough, you need less. So next, I will share my top five tips for progressing towards being content with less for a much happier, fulfilled future.
My Top 5 Tips To Stop Hoarding and Cluttering Your Life
Here are some simple tips you can start implementing in your life to help overcome your hoarding problem.
Tip 1: Acknowledge you want the feeling, not the things
The first step in overcoming a hoarding problem is acknowledging that you buy and keep all these physical items to fill an emotional hole.
Remind yourself every time you think of something you wish to buy, you want because of how it will make you feel.
Say to yourself, “Everything I want, is because of how it will make me feel.”
Whether it’s a new shirt, an expensive candle, or a perfume bottle, they are all desires to gain physical items to make you feel good.
But, as we now know, these things will never have the ability to make us truly feel good—no matter how much we buy and own.
Instead, we must learn to find ways to discover those feelings without physical things—and when you do that, your life will be amazing.
Please keep reading to find out my next top tip, where I’ll share how you can find those feelings while reducing your hoarding problem…
Tip 2: Swap with friends
The truth is, things don’t make you feel good—people do.
So the next time you have the urge to go shopping and buy more which you’ll undoubtedly end up hoarding in your home, invite all your friends over.
This is the perfect alternative, especially if you don’t have a lot of extra cash. Ask your friends to bring three things they no longer need, want, or like, and then have a big swap.
Make it more of an event and ask everyone to also bring some food so you can all have dinner together.
Much better than going shopping and spending more money on things that will add to the clutter in your home.
When you swap the time you would usually spend shopping by inviting your friends over, it will soon become clear that this is what really matters in life. Sharing stories, love, and laughter. Not keeping up with the latest style trends.
Tip 3: Give your things away
So by now, you know possessions aren’t playing the role you hoped they would.
This is why this tip is all about tackling your problem with hoarding head-on.
The first step is to look around your house and assess everything you have.
Ask yourself, “How does this make me feel?”
If it doesn’t add value to your life, if it’s not something that holds great meaning to you, if it’s not something you use in your everyday life, then gradually start to get rid of it.
Because while we’ve already established that buying and hoarding things won’t make you feel good for long. You’ll soon find out that it feels much better to give things away than to allow them to clutter your home.
Once you’ve decided what holds little emotional or practical value to you, start putting things outside your home with a sign they are free to take.
I did this once, and it was so exciting to see more and more things disappear every time I would look out of the window.
People would knock on my door asking if they really could take them, and I would say, “Yes. Please take it, take it.”
It provides so much pleasure to give things away and make other people happy. Try it! You’ll not only find your home becomes a lot more organized, but your mind with also become so much clearer.
Tip 4: Know when to say enough is enough
Of course, it would probably be unrealistic to say we will never go shopping again.
That is why this tip is all about knowing when to say, “This is enough.”
If you find yourself shopping and wanting so desperately to buy something, remind yourself that these items may be lovely, but having them won’t make you happy.
You’ve been shopping many times before, and you have bought more every time because they didn’t make you feel happy or fulfilled for long enough.
And if you do buy something, try saying this:
“I am enough.”
“I don’t need more.”
“This is enough.”
If you bought a perfume bottle and it made you feel good, then acknowledge that is enough. You do not need to buy more perfumes because you already have enough.
Saying this each time you buy something will help you realize you don’t need more. And will instead teach you to value everything you already have.
Tip 5: Delay Gratification
My final tip is a great way to reduce how much you buy and help you realize how acquiring things often actually gives you much more pleasure than the things themselves.
My favorite example is taking my daughter to a food store where toys also happened to be sold.
She came running up to me with Barbies overflowing out of the grasp of her arms.
She exclaimed, “Mommy, I need all of these!”
I replied, “Darling, you don’t need it.”
Despite her pleas, I reminded her that one Barbie would make her just as happy as six. Of course, she wasn’t convinced, but I allowed her to pick just one.
As we walked to put the others back, I explained that she would have the rest one day. One for her birthday, one for Christmas, one for doing some chores, and another for earning a hundred stars.
Children thrive off this kind of challenge and will wholly dedicate themselves to working towards receiving that reward.
In fact, I can tell you that my daughter had far more pleasure earning her stars than she ever did playing with her toys.
And that’s because once we have the things we want to buy, the novelty wears off within minutes.
The thrill of a new purchase disappears, and we’re back to the same feeling inside, which leads us to want to buy more in the hopes of fulfilling those feelings.
But in reality, all we are doing is hoarding and cluttering our homes.
Therefore, delaying gratification and buying or collecting things as a reward is much better than allowing ourselves to have them instantly and cluttering our homes.
The Solution: I Am Enough
Wouldn’t you love to feel the same amazing high you feel when you first purchase an item all the time?
When you believe the words, “I am enough,” you can make this feeling last forever.
You will never feel the need to go on a shopping spree to find happiness, fulfillment, worth, or success. You will already have all of these things in abundance.
You will already have and be enough and will never require more.
They are the best three words you can ever say to yourself…
“I am enough.”
When you think that you need more, remember, you are enough, just the way you are.
“I am enough.”
Write it on your mirror with lipstick…
Put it on your fridge using magnets…
Make it your laptop’s screensaver…
Wherever you will see it most is the best place to remind yourself of these words each and every day.
Put it everywhere.
Write it, read it, say it, speak it.
But most importantly—believe it.
The way you feel about everything is due to the pictures you make in your head and the words you say to yourself.
Therefore, treat yourself with kindness, and surround yourself with statements of empowering truth.
Before long, they will not only be what you do; they will become who you are.
To harness the true potential of this movement, I welcome you to join my 7-day I Am Enough course.
My 7-day course is designed to help you put these powerful beliefs into action. Removing limiting thoughts that have developed into unhelpful buying habits. Instead, helping you to reclaim your self-worth and speak to yourself with kindness.
Each day you will cover a new area, building upon newfound beliefs and knowledge, helping you move closer to a powerful conviction that you are enough.
Once you acknowledge that your desire to buy excessively was your way of dealing with your feelings on a surface layer, you’ll realize you need to go much deeper.
Start cleansing your home of things you no longer need. Of things that no longer bring you joy or add value to your life. And begin tackling the root of it all—and empower yourself with statements of truth by stating, “I am enough.”
Once you have this inner belief, you will change your life.
If you are ready to stop buying and hoarding things you don’t need to fulfill an emotional void in your life, join my 7-day I Am Enough course today.