Unclutterer.com had a post that really got me thinking!

The connection between surroundings and perspective

I agree that surroundings influence a person’s sense of comfort and well being on a really visceral level and it's not the same for everyone, in fact it isn't even always the same for ONE person!

What astonishes me most is how the relationship with surroundings can change (sometimes dramatically) in a relatively short amount of time. I used to feel extreme anxiety in a sparse room... I couldn’t relax, I felt exposed and vulnerable. I felt sorry for people that didn't surround themselves with books and knicknacks and other pretty personal items. Really.... sorry for minimalists! It's laughable. This interaction with my surroundings lasted into my 30s.

Pretty much from the moment I left home for college I was forging ahead on my own, from scratch with nothing to define me except the boxes that I moved into my first apartment and my class list (in a strange town) life was thrust upon me.  And it got more full, slowly at first... acquisition of furniture... pursuing a career... then it really got busy!... marriage... home ownership... 2 babies... 

I needed my stuff, my stuff needed me - a cozy relationship.

Now at this present point in my life (approaching 40 with lightening speed) the opposite is true, clutter feels heavy like it will squash me and sucks out my freedom with every dust-catching surface, it's emotionally draining and "loud" all the time. 

What changed? I have a theory that the more full and stable my life becomes, the less tangible affirmations (aka stuff) I need to define myself to feel confident in my own skin.

Perhaps that is part of what hoarding is about. I am amazed how many of the hoarders (on the TV show) started off as tidy people... only to suffer some tragedy that changes their needs. These people need to feel secure and search for the security with things, it's tragic how messed up (literally) the stuff made everything!

I was a packrat. One personal tragedy away from much worse habits... it's a reality that I'm okay with really. Through love, trust and self-realizations I have come out the other side with a greater respect for my things. Not so much of it means what it used to, and I honestly think that is a very very good thing!

Bravo minimalists for not needing the stuff to be happy. But please don't underestimate the genuine comfort a bit of clutter can provide for anyone that's feeling a bit lost.


Sammyleia said...

I collect quite a few pieces of memorabilia (ornaments, paintings, masks etc.) when I travel overseas and would be very sad to see it all go, so I could never be a minimalist. I do think however that too much clutter in your house does clutter the mind, and it does tend to offer a false sense of security. The trick for me is to find the happy medium!

Pol* said...

the "happy" medium is the key isn't it? Too little, too much -- just right -- it's all how youe feel about it. A very personal experience.