Trash or Treasure :: Keep or Purge

My Personal Clutter Project

This is an idea I’ve had stewing for a long time. One of the problems that messies, clutterers, chronically disorganized people, and hoarders have in common is difficulty getting rid of or deciding what to do with items. I plan to explore and discuss the mental processes that I experience sometimes when deciding whether to discard an item. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held the packaging that an item came in and wondered if I should save it. Recently, I wanted to save the box my nursing cover came in because I liked the image of the nursing mother on it. I debated, kept it for a few hours, and then ended up throwing it away by the end of the day!

Trash or Treasure :: Keep or Purge

I will be posting images of specific items that I have hesitated over discarding, or simply cannot decide what to do with. I will give you a chance to weigh in on the items and to make comments about whether you also have difficulty with similar items or not. You can also share your tips for what you do with certain items when organization becomes an issue.

I want to open a dialogue about the challenges of conquering clutter and organizing our stuff. I want people with real challenges to realize that they are not alone in their distorted thinking patterns and to learn from others how to deal with problem items.

What Causes the Problem

The psychologists who wrote Overcoming Compulsive Hoarding: Why You Save & How You Can Stop have identified several types of saving patterns and common traits of hoarders.

Three saving patterns:

  1. Sentimental Saving
  2. Instrumental Saving
  3. Aesthetic Saving

Common Traits of over-savers:

  • Fear of Losing Information
  • Indecisiveness
  • Fear of Making a Mistake
  • Inability to Prioritize
  • Fear of Loss
  • Fear of Memory Loss
  • Lack of Organization

The psychologists who wrote Buried in Treasure: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding have identified several beliefs and ways of thinking that get in the way of purging and organizing. They call them “the bad guys.”

The Bad Guys:

1) It’s Just Not My Priority

2) Letting unhelpful Beliefs Get In Your Way

  • Beliefs About Usefulness
  • Perfectionism and Fear of Making Mistakes
  • Beliefs About Responsibility
  • Beliefs About Attachment
  • Beliefs About Objects as a Source of Identity
  • Underestimating Memory
  • Beliefs About Control

3) Overthinking or Confusing Yourself

4) Avoidance and Excuse-Making

5) Going for the Short-Term Payoff

I will be explaining each of these patterns, traits, beliefs, and bad guys one at a time on my blog in the future. As I post info about each one, I’ll link from the list to the post for easy reference.

Here are the Trash or Treasure :: Keep or Purge Posts from the project:

Keep or Purge :: Broken Sentimental Mug 

Keep or Purge :: Purple Gift Bag and Tissue Paper

Keep or Purge :: Greeting Cards

Keep or Purge :: Rocking Elephant

Keep or Purge :: The Vintage Rocking Horse

Keep or Purge :: Magazine Insert

Keep or Purge :: Cardboard Soap Box


8 thoughts on “Trash or Treasure :: Keep or Purge

  1. Very interesting! I am a hoarder! I can’t throw away anything my mom or my grandma gave me even though I know I will never use it. I also don’t erase my mom’s or my grandma’s voicemails… And it’s hard for me to give up “bad gifts”. I still have a lot of really ugly items people gave me.

Leave a Reply