There are plenty of my clients whose spaces are severely cluttered. They aren’t “hoarders,” (different needs; different service) but they are headed more towards that direction than not. The excess of stuff in their homes is obvious. The piles are high. The corners are crammed. The contents of the closets are spilling out into the rest of the rooms. The reasonable storage capacity has long ago been exceeded.
They are embarrassed, sometimes even ashamed, to show me their space, knowing full well how evident it is that they have willingly lived in such a state for as long as they have. That they desperately need to make a change is unquestionable.
But there are just as many other clients I work with that have lived with a truly modest amount of clutter and lack of organization. Their closets aren’t filled, their rooms aren’t packed, but each room contains things they’re aware they don’t need or want, and none of it is beautifully organized. They’ve called me on the hunch that their situation might possibly be improved. But ostensibly, they could live for years more without picking up the phone.
Interestingly, although the perceived level of need is not the same, the level of relief that both types of these clients feel after we’ve worked together is identical.
The severely cluttered clients feel utterly relieved to have finally tackled the tasks that have been weighing on them for years. The modestly cluttered clients feel utterly relieved to have tackled the tasks they never realized were weighing on them as much as they were.
Our ability to acclimate to a set of circumstances is both impressive and dangerous. What we are able to tolerate is a testament to our resilience. Our internal wiring (when healthy) seems determined to regulate contentment in the face of all varieties of hardship and ugliness.
But our ability to acclimate can also be the biggest obstacle towards change. We forget that life doesn’t have to be as complicated as we’re making it. We stop evaluating whether our methods are the most efficient ones. We stop asking ourselves, “how much is this bothering me?” And, “how much better could I feel if this were improved?”
Whether the circumstances of our lives are packed to the brim or merely sprinkled with clutter (in all its variations) is irrelevant. The presence of anything that derails our freedom is enough to substantiate a change. The knowledge that anything in our possession isn’t being cared for properly is reason enough to seek a better way. The curiosity about how great it could be is cause enough to explore.
One person’s stuffed garage can be another’s disordered sock drawer.
What weighs on you, weighs on you.
But how long it does is up to you.