Home > Uncategorized > Cluttering and Hoarding -Outer Child Messes – Part 1

Cluttering and Hoarding -Outer Child Messes – Part 1

Cluttering and Hoarding — Messy Outer Child Behaviors

(c) Susan Anderson 2010

Is your Outer Child a clutterer? Do you want to develop neater habits? Become more orderly? Would you like to purge your home and overstuffed schedule of unnecessary things? This blog will help you.

If you’re a garden variety clutterer – you might have clothes that need putting away, dishes stacked up in the sink, or stacks of unopened mail – it is probably due to the rigors of modern life; your inner child feel stressed, tired, discombobulated, or preoccupied, and your Outer Child acts out by dodging clean-up tasks.

Some people have hoarding problems that are nothing short of extreme.

“I’ve fallen behind in my house keeping. Stuff started piling up about six months ago and I seem to have misplaced the living room sofa.”

“I just can’t throw things away, so I move instead. I’ve lived in three different houses in past five years to get away from the clutter but the stacks and piles just grow all over again until they fill up the bathroom and force me to move again.”

Most of us have seen images on TV displaying the chaotic, squalid messes inside the homes of extreme clutterers. If these images arouse our disgust, they also arouse our curiosity and an unspoken acknowledgment there is a spectrum of hoarding behavior and most of us fall somewhere along its continuum. Who doesn’t have a closet or at least a drawer that’s an absolute wreck?

In looking at people’s pileups, we are observing a metaphor for pileups in our own lives that don’t take up physical space. The metaphor unwittingly reminds us of our own unfinished emotional business, unattended goals, unsorted feelings, and un-discarded negative self-messages – messy conglomerations of issues that bury us under their psychological weight.

By looking inside an extreme clutter’s home, we are looking at the results of extreme Outer Child behavior, and the feelings we imagine that must go with it. It boggles the mind. In straining to make sense of it, we consult our own murkiest feelings. By plumbing the depths of our emotional understanding, we get in touch with our human core, and perhaps feel better about ourselves.

Clutterers’ Voices

In attempting to explain their habits and compulsions no matter where they are on the spectrum, people attribute their behavior to a variety of emotional issues:

“I’m a clutterer because I get too easily overwhelmed. A mess makes me so anxious, I avoid doing anything about it.”

“I’m a clutterer because I doubt myself a lot and I’m afraid of making a mistake. ‘When in doubt, don’t throw it out’ – so my piles just keep growing.”

“I’m a clutterer, but I think it’s all about procrastination. I don’t get around to discarding things.”

“I’m a clutterer because I can never have enough. I’m afraid I’ll be out in the world with nothing. Keeping all this stuff keeps me packed in and safe.”

“I’m a clutterer because I have guilt about wasting things. I’d better save them. What if someone might need it some day? But somehow I’ve taken ‘waste not, want not’ through the roof.”

“I’m a clutterer because I don’t feel good enough about myself to live in neat, tidy surroundings I can be proud of.”

“I’m a clutterer because I’m an artist and I guess my messy space is a form of impressionism – a tableau expressing the state of my mind: Chaos.”

“I’m a clutterer because I attach sentimental value to everything that comes my way. I collect it all. I feel too attached to it to get rid of most things.”

“I’m a clutterer because I have trouble making decisions and keeping things avoids making all of those decisions.”

“I’m a clutterer because I’ve had a lot of trauma and throwing things on the floor releases stress.”

“I’m a clutterer because I’m a perfectionist. I wouldn’t want to make the mistake of not keeping something I’m supposed to keep.”

“I’m clutterer because I just can’t just abandon my stuff. I feel too loyal to it. Keeping stuff feels like right thing to do.”

Although most people are able to connect their hoarding, cluttering behaviors to personal issues, they’re not able to answer the next logical question: Why do their problems manifest themselves in physical disarray and not in some other way? More than almost any other ailment we’ve discussed so far, when cluttering and hoarding become compulsive, it leaves people bewildered with their own behavior.

Quite a few extreme clutters have attended my abandonment recovery workshops over the years. They’d tried every other type of treatment, but their feelings and behaviors were so entwined, their attempts to break free kept them running in circles. So they’ve tried my program hoping to free themselves from Outer Child compulsions by healing the source – unresolved abandonment.  Stay-tuned to read about how my program can help us overcome our messy Outer Child.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. OvO
    October 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I have become a product of my environment coupled with 20 years of guilt ridden depression which I am desperate to get out of.

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