The Hoarder Chronicles

The one question I’ve received countless times is,  “am I a Hoarder?” The answer to this question cannot be easily detected by sight alone, but rather by the evaluation of a person’s unique reaction to letting go.


How can you spot the difference between a hoarder and a person who hasn’t learned how to let go?


This can be a very tricky line in the sand and is not always distinguishable by outward behavioral traits. When doing a client assessment, what you see is not always what you get. At an initial glance, a hoarder and a person who hasn’t learned the art of letting go can almost resemble the same symptoms. For example, both hoarders and non-hoarders typically have all surfaces of their space covered, including the floor vytorin 10 40 generic. The key difference appears in the extent of disarray surrounding each person’s space. While these two cases may look physically similar, they have fundamental differences that require personalized treatment.


Both hoarders and non-hoarders have noticeable difficulty accepting the letting go process. While hoarders even during the process may not understand or accept that this is a necessary step, non-hoarders differentiate themselves by slowly coming to the realization that letting go is a necessity. They may be reluctant at first, but slowly and surely they will reach a place where they are ready. Once they get going, they start to feel the freedom, and then there is no stopping them. The letting go begins to replace the holding on.  This significant change in habit is also an extremely telling fact which helps to identify “hoarder or not”.  On the flip side a hoarder will feel more or a loss than a freedom.


This reminds me of one particular client, Lindsey. She and her husband had been living for years with no available surfaces in their home (clothing all over the floor, and no kitchen or dining room table to be seen under the pile of clutter.) She couldn’t even cook because her kitchen was impossible to access.  At first glance, she certainly could have fit the criteria as a hoarder. So we began the work, starting with her bedroom. We cleared the floor and organized a part of the closet during our first session.


This brought a few uncomfortable emotions to the surface for Lindsay. She told me she was feeling nervous and anxious as she pushed forward through this critical first step. She later told me she almost cancelled because her fears were too overwhelming. What Lindsey didn’t yet know was the positive outcome this process would have on her life. When I came back for the second session, she welcomed my visit and couldn’t wait to get started. I was happy to see that all the work we had done the week prior was just as it was. She kept up with the simple but important systems that were put in place. Now her entire house is organized and she habitually keeps it this way. Lindsey is a perfect example of someone who may have appeared to be a hoarder, but after investigating deeper, she was completely capable of turning her life around.


Another key difference between a hoarder and non-hoarder is the variation among each person’s progress. With a hoarder, their space can end up looking worse each session as their progress can sometimes deteriorate while the organizer is not there. But with a non-hoarder, all the work that has been done is usually maintained. One of the most remarkable outlasting effects for non-hoarders is that they usually end up feeling confident enough to take on additional projects of their own.


A hoarder is oblivious to the belongings they have in their possession, however when they find hidden items among the mass of accumulated clutter, they all of the sudden declare their necessity for the item or they state, “that’s just what I’ve been looking for!” Non-hoarders may fall back into old habits, however they are always able to break them through repetitious work with an organizer. Similar to hoarders, they may have no idea what they have among their accumulated belongings, however once they find things they have no obvious use for, they have no problem donating it, throwing it out or changing its location, to make it more accessible and useful.


Taking a momentary glance at someone’s space is not an accurate measure of whether someone is a hoarder or not. However, through continuous hard work, persistence, and motivation to get organized, the answers will come.


There is only one way to figure out the difference between a hoarder and non-hoarder. Do the work and you shall see…

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