I recently had a consultation with a full-on hoarder, so I thought I’d share some ideas on this subject in case you aren’t sure if you are one, or in case you know someone who is but doesn’t know it. I don’t really think that the label is necessary mind you, but if it helps, as in this case, I say use it.
My client said that a friend of hers taped a few of the “Hoarder” TV episodes to show her. She said that after reviewing the tapes, she GUESSED, that if that person was classified as a hoarder, then PERHAPS she was too…because her place looked just like the TV hoarder’s. Yes, like other issues, some hoarders really have no clue they have a problem.
My client was raised in rural Russia where having “no thing” was VERY BAD. Anytime you could get some thing, you took it. She now lives in a big city where people put “perfectly good stuff” out on the sidewalk for trash pickup. She was formally trained as a fine artist, and specialized in public art, but now she believes (watch your thoughts!) says no one is doing public art anymore. She wants to get rid of the stuff but can’t because “there are so many uses for it!” I find that last sentence is a usual one that pops up in a decluttering conversation.
She told me that she was seeing a psychologist but that she had not revealed that she lived like this. I asked her to show pictures of her place to her psychologist because if she trusted the psychologist, I had one more person “in the village,” because trust me, it does usually take a village to support a hoarder. I say this for those of you who are singularly trying to help a family member out there. I would highly suggest recruiting a psychologist who specializes in hoarding to help. In my client’s case, I ‘m trying to imaging what this psychologist is thinking. Something like “For all the work I’m doing, I really don’t see much movement with my client!” is my guess.
I have helped and have seen other colleagues of mine help the chronically cluttered and the hopelessly hoarded. It can be done. I admire the friends and family members that try to take this job on for their lived ones. My caveat to you before helping is that you support yourself as much as possible first.
1. Make sure you have a clean, neat home that makes you feel alive and vital, so that when returning from helping your friend or family member, you can rebuild your personal energy. Just like the hoarder, you can’t afford to have anything dead (plants, animals or people in urns,) dirt, clutter, grime, or anything that is sitting on the floor (like a stack of magazines, boxes of papers or tools, etc.) or anything that has literally not moved in your home for years.
2. Give your furnishing a little shake and wipe-down to freshen-up the energy.
3. Open a window to exchange the air.
4. Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT bring anything home from the hoarder’s home and place it in yours – I don’t care how much room you’ve got to spare. Results I’ve seen from taking this on are weight gain and lung issue ailments.
5. A space clearing or ground blessing may help start the process (rituals can be helpful in helping the person who needs the help to actually switch from being resistant to being willing to see from a different perspective and want to change.) You can use salt with the intention of absorbing negative energy (place a bowl of salt water on the front porch and invite stale energies out to be transformed into positive energy or released from the home – warning this is akin to the house throwing up which actually may make the client feel nauseous.)
You can also ring bells, bang drums or pots and pans or even play loud classical music as you circle the house (or property, as I’ve seen hoarding in the form of many cars on the property.) There are many other space clearing rituals out there – look one up and try it. I like the ones in my friend Denise Linn’s book Sacred Space.
6. And of course, make sure your home is as feng shuied as possible so that you can hold your vital energy during this time (like I said, oftentimes, people who jump into a mess like this exhibit lung issue-type ailments as the suffocating energies wear them down.) Read up on feng shui here or join my “move it program” to give you tips to do along the way.
For this particular client, as an “inspired” feng shui cure, I recommended that she create public art by setting up her Christmas tree (that I saw squished in a corner) each day somewhere different on the streets of the city with some of this stuff under it, and then watch, photograph, blog about and meet the people who come by to take the “gifts.” I thought it could be a chance to get noticed and gain relevance again by possibly attracting news reporters, etc…all the while, doing what she loves (her initial request for feng shui was to get back into doing and selling her art) AND getting rid of the stuff in her home (which will no doubt, create more opportunities in her life.) so for
number 7: Try to inspire your hoarder friend to help others with the stuff so that they see it “going to good use.” It is usually only a story in their heads that needs professional work, but sometimes, just sometimes, it works.