Minimalism or Hoarding?

Since 2016, I’ve been really into the aesthetic of a minimalist. To be honest, all I thought about it is the way you store and present your things in a tidy way. I never knew that minimalism could be in two types. Some might already know this and some may not be aware of but first, what really is minimalism?

What is Minimalism?

Lots of people define this as an appreciation of space but specifically, it is the “simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy as they are also the marks of great art.” —Richard Holloway

If you ask me, minimalism is living in simplicity or believing the line that less is more, using only the things I really need, provides more time to invest in other stuff, presents more breathing space, but according to Joshua Becker, minimalism is intentionality, freedom from passion to possess, to modern mania and to duplicity. He even added that minimalism is counter-cultural, internal and achievable.

Minimalism is intentional since this is a force used to remove unnecessary things in our daily lives and just use the things that we really need. We intentionally make a move to promote space and value only the things that we really need which eventually leads us to a fulfillment and a more improved lifestyle.

Minimalism is freedom from passion to possess things because really, minimalism is a great promotion of freedom to people, especially me, which hoard things that I really don’t need. Minimalism could free us to the mindset of acquiring happiness only in worldly things which has an expiration date, instead, minimalism gives us an opportunity to find happiness in other aspects of our lives.

Since we live in this modern culture of hysteria, which is composed of too much stress and rush, everyone’s so stressed to pay bills before its due date and rushed to multi-task everything at work or at school. Here enters minimalism as a “time-out” of all the things we are stressed about. Becker describes minimalism as a freedom to modern mania to slow down things in life and disengage us to the things that have no value and purpose in the end. By this, it only gives us time to treasure only significant things that we really need in our lives.

Minimalism is the freedom to duplicity since it advocates a “routine” which is flexible no matter the hectic schedule. We tend to live the life of living in between family, friends, co-workers, schoolmates, neighbors, and relatives which later on develops dependence on their demands and tasks. But through minimalism, it creates a periodic schedule that is malleable enough to a tight schedule.

Minimalism is counter-cultural for the reason that it encourages a life of simplicity with no golden standards to meet just like celebrities. Minimalism doesn’t aim for success, glamour, fame, and publicity, instead, it chases the call to an attractive and inviting life through reduction of noise, quietness, and calmness. For short, minimalism is counter-cultural for it simplifies life.

Minimalism is not external but internal due to starting at the core point of minimalism which is decluttering externally and internally. Externally meaning that decluttering starts at the physical components such as wardrobes, working space, kitchen, storage, etc. while internally means that decluttering starts in finding unity, peace, freedom, and joy of the heart and soul. Minimalism is internal for it is not just a matter of decluttering space of the external but also a matter of addressing the deepest portion of our lives and heart.

Lastly, minimalism is completely achievable may it be for a single person, married person with dependents, poor or rich. It gives the fact that minimalism could be attained by anyone who seeks, asks and invests time to know the principles of a real minimalist.

Minimalism as an Art

minimalism-header-1080x735.jpegBeing a minimalist could also occur in two types which is minimalism itself and the minimalism as an art. We already identified above the real definition and essence of a minimalist. It is the reduction of noise, physical components, and internal situations while minimalism as an art or aesthetic is kind of different since it only appreciates its tidiness and the way it presents things. It doesn’t declutter things externally and internally. It doesn’t promote simplified living. It’s just not embracing the real essence of minimalism. Instead, it only focuses on presenting life and things in a simplified, neat, organized, themed and spacious manner.

To be honest, I think I have this love for minimalism but just as an art. I love white and black themed decors and houses. I love white space and background. I love minimalist themed blogs and pictures. It is clearly different. I am not yet ready to declutter things, to give up things that I really don’t need, to use only one or few items and such. I am not yet ready to reduce the noise externally since I also have the passion to hoard.

About hoarding, I would want to tell you that I really am a hoarder. I noticed that I have this kind of “habit” when I became attached to purchasing things online when I was on my 2nd year in college. I call it hoarding when I cannot choose only one since all of them are worth to buy or just too adorable not to buy. This is my habit and a great struggle whenever I shop. I have the goal to buy only one but I would never be contented with just one item and end up buying almost everything with the same style but with different colors. I want to buy in bulk and I don’t want to buy them in tetra packs or individually. But I’m also wondering, what is really the definition of hoarding? Is it the same as to my understanding of hoarding?

What is Hoarding?

According to Eric Metcalf, hoarding is a condition that is difficult to treat which could eventually affect our families, neighbors, and even health. It could be psychologically connected since it occurs in the mind or brain of an individual and could be in worst and severe cases.

Hoarding is the difficulty to declutter possessions which are no longer of use or need whatever the price and value. It is also related to impulsive buying, acquisition of free items and compulsive search of “unique” items which is eventually not unique to others but just an old stuff. Hoarding could also be a result of an emotional, physical, social, financial and legal situations. Hoarding could be chronical, could develop into OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and would need clinical therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) if not treated or already worse.

You may also wonder as much as I am right now of why do we hoard? This is in accordance with Michael Tompkins’ book of Digging Out: Helping Your Loved One Manage Clutter, Hoarding, and Compulsive Acquiring. We hoard because we might have been attached to the objects or trash for others which we see as a major loss if we threw it just like that or it could be because we see it to be useful one day but ends out not using them anyway when we need it. It could also be because we see an item as irreplaceable, unique, vintage, great buy, has sentimental value, reminds some of our memories or it just became a part of our daily lives.

Now, just like me, are you also wondering if you might really be a hoarder? Let’s take a look at the behaviors of a hoarder referring to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Behaviors or Symptoms of a Hoarder:

  1. Inability to throw away possessions.
  2. Severe anxiety when attempting to discard items.
  3. Great difficulty categorizing or organizing possessions.
  4. Indecision about what to keep or where to put things.
  5. Distress, such as feeling overwhelmed or embarrassed by possessions.
  6. Suspicion of other people touching items.
  7. Obsessive thoughts and actions: fear of running out of an item or of needing it in the future; checking the trash for accidentally discarded objects.
  8. Functional impairments, including loss of living space, social isolation, family or marital discord, financial difficulties, health hazards.

Points 1, 4, 6 and 7 are true for me.

For point 1: At the span of the whole school year, I tend to pile up papers and stuff and just clean it off after when the school year has finished or I’m not busy anymore. Since I was a child, after every school year, I have the habit to declutter everything starting from papers, scratch, quizzes, exams, and notes. Up to now that I am in college, I declutter every after a semester and keep important papers such as notes and exams and quizzes. To be honest with you, the semester had just ended now and maybe tomorrow is decluttering day since I have free time again.

For point 4: I remember last April, just this year, we are moving and I need to reduce things since the place where we’ll be moving in to was not that spacious and it took me a week to finally finish off my decluttering starting from the papers up to the things we use in kitchen. That time, I really had the struggle of where to put them but I noticed I don’t remember any struggles on what to keep. There are times that it’s hard for me to decide what to keep and there are also times that I just want everything to throw away and just buy new replacements. I think this attitude of having difficulties in throwing things only occurs to the things that I really bought with my own money and easy to throw those things that don’t really have a value for me and didn’t come from my own money.

For point 6: I am so guilty of this because whenever I buy items with my own money that run out such as lotions, toners, powders, etc., I always suspect people like my mother, sister or brother that they use it without my permission. I don’t want to sound selfish and childish but it just annoys me if I haven’t enjoyed the product yet and they’re all asking big amounts of it. Worst is they don’t ask permission. You get me?

For point 7: After I graduate, I am planning to own an apartment or at least have my own space wherein I could indulge myself using everything I want. I dream of living in Japan’s apartments or sharehouses and I have already secured the goal and a list to buy everything in big quantities or in 2’s. Even if I’m still a student, whenever I’m planning to buy items that run out, I always have the fear to run out with that item so I always make sure to buy bigger sizes or in 2 quantities. I sometimes would check the trash if I regret throwing such things without thinking.

Points 2, 3, 5, and 8 are not applicable to me since I’m not that worst in hoarding and I’m glad I discovered that I only have 4 points to be guilty of. I’m just really honest with you guys and I never knew that these attitudes I have for years already are the behaviors of a hoarder. Who would imagine that simply just the fear and anxiety of running out is already a trait of a hoarder? What about you? Do you also have these traits? If you think you have at least one, you might want to keep on reading.

Hoarding and Collecting

If you think that I’m wrong or you think you’re not a hoarder but just collects things that are of valuable use or not, ADAA added that hoarding is definitely different from collecting.

Collectors could be in many types, may it be a coin collector, stamp collector, etc. In a collectors’ point of view, they experience pride and joy in discussing and showing their collected items. Collectors are organized to the point that it is satisfying to look at and it doesn’t take up too much of your time and money.

While entering the hoarders’ point of view, hoarders do not feel pride and joy when presenting their collected items, instead, they feel guilt, embarrassment, and become uncomfortable when discussing such items. It is clearly different because a severe hoarder could be taken up with too much noise, shame, and debt.

To give you a visual representation of the two, here are two photos. Left is the hoarding and right is the collecting.

If you think you have worst-case scenarios of being a hoarder, CBT sessions could help you since a hoarder who undergoes CBT results in a good decision-making of what stuff is worthy to buy, to throw or keep and to sort items while decluttering basing on your emotions that really trigger.

The Decision

As you’ve read above, I had 4 points of a hoarder and just an aesthetic minimalist. I haven’t practiced anything that defines the real minimalism and I think I’m not yet ready to let go of the unnecessary things I have in me at the moment. I still have a hard time to judge what to just buy and not end up hoarding. I am still, just struggling with losing the anxiety of running out.

I am glad that I know and practice decluttering and that I am not a worst-case hoarder but I am planning to embrace a minimalist way of living starting from the internal. I want to have peace, calmness, freedom, and unity in my heart first before I reduce noise externally. I think I’ll choose minimalism over hoarding. I know it’s hard to begin everything with me, being a hoarder, but now that I’m nearing the “real adulting” of paying never-ending bills and stress at work, I think minimalism would really make a difference in my way of living over the past 20 years with the fact that hoarding is a chaos and expensive. I believe that my passion for the art of minimalism would result in embracing the real essence of minimalism.

What about you? What would you choose? Minimalism or hoarding? Why? I would love to see your thoughts on the comment box below. And I think that’s a wrap!

Always with love,

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