I admit it. I am an accumulator. A bit of a hoarder. I accumulate Stuff, which is the name for items that are not what I hoped, or not as grand as I originally thought when I bought them. They lost the “shiny new toy” factor. I became disappointed with the Stuff.
This said "Stuff" then enters Phase 1: Sitting Stuff.
I decide to not touch it for awhile, hoping that my life will need the Stuff later. I have even been known to take Stuff and stuff it in drawers, so that I neither touch nor see it. When it is out of sight, it's out of mind, right?
Sometimes, I do have the great pleasure of re-discovering old Stuff that I put away for a time, Stuff that holds memories or is actually useful in a pinch.
Mostly, the Stuff is no longer useful. So the Stuff enters phase 2: Sorted Stuff. I am tired of the Stuff, so I make a decision: I either throw it out, give it away, or sell it. Sorted Stuff has some usefulness left if it survives phase 2. The Stuff's innate usefulness fuels my urge to pass it along to someone else via giveaway or selling.
I will now follow the path of my Stuff that enters Phase 3: Pile (to Give Away). This phase is where the stuff is put into a location, often a space on my floor, that I mentally deem "The Giveaway Pile." Now, giving stuff away is great, because people really do need stuff for free or cheap, and it makes me feel better to give stuff away than to toss it if it has usefulness left.
This pile is also mentally labeled, "I'll do that later, I can't today..." Which fools me into thinking that I one day will do the heroic: Really Give Away The Stuff! But that takes loading the stuff, driving to Goodwill, unloading the stuff, saying "hi" to the helper, driving back....all at least 15 minutes of my time! I make sure The Pile is at least three feet tall before attempting such a feat.
While The Pile is growing, however, something quite interesting happens. The Pile becomes like a piece of furniture. It blends into my decor. I walk past it without having even a thought touching the Pile, much less my hands. Then, The Pile becomes a slowly-growing source of dread. When The Pile does manage to get my attention, I am hit with shame:
"You should've taken that Stuff months ago!"
"There are probably centipedes living beneath it this very moment!"
"It will be covered in dust and not even The Poor will want it now!"
Suddenly, getting rid of the Stuff seems like a huge task! I have to touch it! Bugs might be under it! I have to put it in bags! I have to take it to my car! Ahhhh!
If you took the mental energy and anxiety I spent on the Pile of Stuff, and converted it to gasoline, you could drive from Louisville to New York with it!
In reality, it is not so bad. When I finally do unload my Stuff at a place that takes Stuff (like Goodwill), I feel freed from it and happier.
Doesn't this sound like what we do with our Emotional Stuff?
We decide that something must be done with Emotional Stuff, because it cannot keep existing in our space, taking up room. When Emotional Stuff reaches the Pile stage, we might think, "oh, this is a small pile, it just gives me minor anxiety, I'll wait 'till it's bigger before I get rid of it." Then, the Pile becomes normal decor of our hearts, until we look at it. Then, shame hits. "Look how big your issues are! Touching them, bagging them, and taking them out is a whole lotta work! The neighbors might see me and wonder what's wrong!" Then, we avoid doing something until a convenient day, like those magical Saturday afternoons where everything is sunny, and working around the house seems like pure pleasure. The convenient day does not come until we finally decide to put forth what feels like a vast amount of effort and deal with our Stuff.
We put our hands into it, wrestle it into bags, tote those to the car, and get on the journey to getting rid of this Stuff.
During the journey, as we begin the process of getting rid of unnecessary Stuff, we realize how much was wasted fretting over The Stuff. We start doing the right things to deal with our Stuff, and we are freed.
What are some of the ways we can get rid of unnecessary emotional Stuff?
This involves work, but it is like the work that farmers do: work that leads to a harvest.
Are you on board?
So tell me...do you have piles of Stuff around? Physically or emotionally?