What is clutter blindness?
A Google search relates clutter blindness to the term to hoarding. Hoarding is a phenomenon where a person holds on to things he or she believes is valuable in some way, it cannot get thrown out. Before long there is no room for the person to walk or live in his or her home. The objects of importance have taken up residence. The term clutter blindness is related to this phenomenon as the inability to see the clutter. Blind to the way clutter has taken over the home and moved the person out. Clutter is a stack of items that may be disorderly or neatly stacked. The items may hold some emotional value to the person collecting them.
Clutter blindness is not just about hoarding. It is a phenomenon of its own. The person may see that there is a pile of newspapers, dishes, or other items collecting in an area but ignores them. The minimization of the clutter is part of the blindness. The blindness is progressive until the issue is brought to light, then the overwhelm of the clutter takes over and the person is frozen and unable to do anything about it. This is also an aspect of hoarding. Perhaps hoarding is the latter stages of clutter blindness.
There are several articles relating to clutter blindness, one includes ways to de-clutter your home. The first suggestion is to invite people over for a party (See resources for more information.) This is suggested as a way of motivating you to clean your home. This is great if the only problem is a few stacks of things sitting around that you would not want someone to see. What happens if you are on the overwhelm part and cannot possible clean up? The idea of bringing people into your home is insane, rather the shame and guilt arises with the fear of judgment. A few individuals I know refuse to bring anyone into their home, this includes asking anyone to help them clear the clutter. The last thing you would want is for someone to see your home a mess. We all know what is thought of “those people.” There are television reality shows created using “those people.”
What do you do to de-clutter when you cannot get motivated?
Begin with baby steps. Ask yourself what is so important about the stack of papers or newspapers? Are there articles that mark the passage of time in your life? Then clip them with the newspaper title, paste them in a scrap book. Then recycle the newspapers and magazines. This is a good time to develop the three or six month rule. If you have not read it or looked at it in that amount of time it is not important any more. Do not look at it and recycle it.
The rule for clothing and other similar items is usually six months or a year. If it has hung in your closet through a second season and you have not worn it, recycle, donate, but get rid of it. Reading material, dishes, pots and pans, any nicknacks, receipts, collectables without a great deal of value, hold a yard sale and what you do not sell donate to the nearest charity, then put the receipts in a file for your taxes at the end of the year. Recycle any receipts that do not pertain to your taxes.
Baby steps! Congratulations on the first one. Even crawling is better than not moving forward at all. If you are really stuck and want to make a few bucks and gain your 15 minutes of fame write the show “Hoarders.” They may feature you and help you clean your house. But check to be sure that those things that are of value are resold and those not valuable are recycled.
Congratulations on your first step towards recovery. Clutter blindness is a part of what ever is happening in your life, depression, loss, trauma, there are many beginnings in this journey. The end is up to you. Need someone to talk it through, contact me, I am a great listener and on occasion do come up with some great ideas. Bless you, may the next step take you to your destination.
AARP Bulletin: When possessions rule your life
NPR Books: Hoarding: When Too Much ‘Stuff’ Causes Grief