I remember the first time I witnessed what hoarding was. I was lucky enough to get my education on hoarding from the infamous TLC show Hoarding: Buried Alive. This show took its viewers inside the lives of hoarders and inside their homes. I won’t lie to you…..after viewing a handful of these shows I didn’t feel too bad about leaving a few pieces of clothes on the floor. Or perhaps leaving a dish or two in the sink. Talk about feeling like a righteous queen.
But, as I thought about it more and more, the people showcased on this show really had deep underlying issues that resulted in them living these lives filled with junk! I mean, there were some houses that I wondered how they never got sick.
Let’s take a look at the formal definition of hoarding. According to wikipedia, this is their definition of hoarding:
[hoarding] is a behavioral pattern characterized by excessive acquisition of and an inability or unwillingness to discard large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of the home and cause significant distress
The part that struck me in this definition was the “inability” or “unwillingness” to discard large quantities of objects. It then hit me. Hoarding doesn’t just start and finish with objects. People can in fact be hoarders of emotions, thought patterns, and behavioral patterns. Voila! I have found one of the many ways people make it harder to heal from their past.
I haven’t quite understood just yet why the human brain holds on to painful experiences more tightly than good experiences. But, it does. Take a second to think about your life. What memories come first, or more frequent? Are they pleasant moments or dreadful moments? Depending on the severity of your life thus far, I can tell you from experience, and listening to others, our bad experiences come to the forefront more often than we would like to admit.
Any painful, or traumatic, experience(s) we have in life are key to how we react to everything else from that day forward. These experiences become like a security blanket. We think xyz hurt us so, let me cover myself up to protect myself from that again. Many use past experiences as an excuse to act certain ways too. If you have ever caught yourself saying any of these phrases below, I’d suggest you are hoarding emotions that you need to let go:
“Well, that’s just how I am”.
“It runs in my family so of course I’m like this”.
or my favorite one
“I’ve been like this since I was born! It’s how God made me to be”.
Let me tell you one thing: no human is born with trust issues, racism, fear, aggression, shame, guilt, etc. Those are all learned behaviors/mindsets that are attached to you from either the wrong guidance or traumatic experiences.
This is why I am an advocate to every female, or male, that has just gotten out of a bad relationship to not date for at least 6 months to a year. You are carrying around emotional baggage, or in this case, hoarding emotions from your past, and dropping it off on another human who does not deserve that extra baggage in their life. And what we think is that other person will deal with and fix it for me. That right there is a recipe for disaster, and another failed relationship which then will have you acquire a new set of luggage.
I want to challenge my readers to really sit down and look at your hoarding issue. Take all of your luggage, open it all up, and sort through your stuff. Look at when you acquired each “item” that lead you to holding on to it and not letting it go. Ask yourself why are you holding onto it still? If it’s stifling your growth, you need to chuck it. My hope is you do this for yourself before you allow someone else to deal with your hoarding issue. Forgive the past. Forgive yourself. Forgive those who placed those things on you. Look forward and only take a glimpse back to see how much baggage you dropped off.