If you’re finding that stuff is taking over your home or you’re weighed down by the amount of physical clutter in your life, this post is for you. I’m sharing seven signs you’re obsessed with stuff, and outlining why you need to take control of your stuff before it takes control of you.
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Stuff has been on my mind a lot over the past couple of years.
We decluttered like mofos this past year in preparation for our big house move and to be honest, we’re still moving items on now. The process of unpacking and finding a designated place in our new home for our belongings has made us question every single item and whether or not we really need it.
But stuff has been especially on my mind lately, because last month my father lost all his belongings in a fire.
Every single item he’s collected during his 69 years disappeared up in smoke due to an arson attack on a storage facility.
Any person would find this a massive blow, but to my father it’s insurmountable.
Because he really likes his stuff.
He’s always been very emotionally attached to his belongings and will fight like crazy to never part with anything.
That’s one of the reasons my parents’ divorce settlement was so nasty.
And another reason why all my childhood photos and toys went up in smoke in that fire.
You see, Dad couldn’t, and wouldn’t, part with anything easily.
If it wasn’t for a single small photo album my beloved Nan kept of my childhood, I would have no photos of my childhood. None of my childhood toys were passed onto my kids either. Not that they would have wanted to play with my Cabbage Patch Doll, but still….
Why You Don’t Want To Become Obsessed with Stuff
For my entire life I’ve watched my father hoard more and more stuff and get super emotionally attached to it. In that time I’ve learned a few crucial life lessons that I want to share with you. Here’s why I believe you need to take control of your stuff before it takes control of you….
- Stuff isn’t an adequate substitute for healthy, connected relationships. It will never make you happy.
- Stuff weighs you down – physically and emotionally. It takes up physical and energetic space in your life and can literally suffocate you.
- Stuff is a health hazard – it can be a trip or falling hazard but it also collects dust and harbours spiders and other critters.
- Stuff is expensive. It’s expensive to accumulate in the first place, but it’s also expensive to house.
- Stuff you don’t regularly use is wasteful. It’s a wasted resource just sitting there when it could be used be someone else.
- Stuff prevents you from moving on. When you’re clinging onto stuff and the memories associated with it, you’re unable to look forward and embrace the future.
How To Tell If You’re Becoming Obsessed With Stuff
Having people in my life who are clearly obsessed with stuff has also made me acutely aware of the traits of the stuff-obsessed. Here’s seven signs that you might be (or might be on the road to being) obsessed with stuff:
1. Your credit card is maxxed out
The main reason your credit card is maxxed out will always be that you’re living beyond your means, drinking or eating out too much, or going on holidays you can’t afford. But it can also be an indication that you’re accumulating new stuff.
Are you shopping for emotional reasons? Get a hobby to fill that void. Don’t hobby shop.
2. You can’t park your car in your garage
It’s true, Australians are buying larger houses to accommodate their growing volume of stuff. And many of these larger houses have their garages full of belongings too! If you’re parking your car in your driveway or on the street because your garage is chockers, you might be obsessed with stuff.
3. You’re paying for additional storage
Maybe your house and garage are full and you have stuff in storage, or multiple storage venues. This is a very clear sign that you need to evaluate your relationship with stuff.
I can’t think of a time growing up when my father didn’t have anything in storage. He literally never moved items on, and would even be a regular at local garage sales to see what bargain he could find. But one thing I know first-hand is that it’s never a bargain if you’re paying to store it!
4. You can’t easily move items on
Maybe you like remembering your first boyfriend when you look at those earrings he gave you. The ones you never wear.
Maybe you’re living in hope that one day you might just fit into those size 12 Saba jeans again.
Maybe you believe that one day, maybe even in 30 years’ time, your future grandchild will lie on that baby mat your baby used.
Or maybe you’re holding onto an item that someone special gave you, even though you never liked the item. (For this I say do you think this special person would have wanted you to feel burdened by their gift? Of course not!)
We make internal excuses not to part with our stuff because we like the memories associated with the item or hope we might be able to use it again. Maybe, just maybe, by moving on items like these we’re able to live in the present a bit better. I’m not saying to ditch the family heirloom, especially if you’re using it, I’m just asking you to ask yourself why you’re holding on to particular items and be open to moving them on.
5. You rarely rent
Own a caravan you use once or twice a year? A boat that’s on the land more than it’s in the water? A trailer with flat tyres since it’s been an age since you used it?
These are all big items that are able to be easily (and cheaply) hired rather than purchased outright. But you can also easily hire smaller items too including lawn mowers, whipper snippers, baby items, toys and books (just think of your local library).
Ownership is all about control. If you’re not a fan of renting items, it might be time to ask yourself why that’s the case. Renting is freedom.
6. You line up for the latest iPhone (or whatever)
You live for the new and exciting and must be one of the first to have latest releases of anything limited edition. Naturally, this hits your wallet extra hard as you’re not only upgrading items well before they’re worn out, you’re paying a premium price to be an early adopter. If this is you I challenge you to practice patience. See if you can skip a model or two. The world will still turn!
And when you’re tempted to buy the latest and greatest, ask yourself these four questions before you buy anything new.
7. You avoid having visitors because your house is full of crap
Do you avoid having friends or family over because you either can’t physically fit them in because your spare room is full of stuff, or you’re embarrassed that your house is so messy and/or cluttered? If that’s the case, it’s likely that your stuff is interfering with your friendships and connections. Time to make some choices and remember that stuff will never make you as happy as healthy, connected relationships.
So what do you think? Do you see yourself in any of the points above?
I’m definitely in some of them. Environmentalist I may be, but growing up in a household where items were rarely moved on I’ve naturally picked up some of the hoarding habits. I’ve really had to work at my relationship with stuff over the years and I regularly make a concerted effort to move items on.
I do know that I want my present and my future years to be free from the physical and energetic burden of stuff.
Childhood photos or no childhood photos, I’m here to live life with as light an environmental footprint as possible. Care to join me?
Over to you!
Have you had an up and down relationship with stuff throughout your life? Share your story and decluttering tips below!