I am pretty sure that I met a certified hoarder last week, and you would never know it by looking at him. I was on my morning bike ride, roaming through an unexplored neighborhood, when I saw a garage that was so full, that it seemed to be defying gravity by not falling out. Naturally, I pulled my bike over and reached for my camera phone. However, before I had a chance to snap a photo, a slender man in his mid-60’s walked up, shook my hand and started talking to me. Within the space of 5 minutes, I knew all about his 20 year career as an air-traffic controller, a real estate deal he just helped close, that he is now single but used to be quite the ladies man, and that he was indeed the owner of the garage that I was about to photograph. Needless to say, I did not get my picture, but I did feel as if the amount of information that verbally spilled out of him was relative to an avalanche of stuff that wanted to fall out of that garage.
I did not tell the man that I am a Feng Shui consultant, and I did not ask him about all the clutter that he stores in his garage because I know that the psychology behind a person who hoards is delicate and I wanted to proceed with caution. The entire experience got me thinking about why people hoard, and what role that Feng Shui can play in the process of healing.
I found an amazing website that is dedicated to clutterers at http://www.clutterless.org, and it gives a great definition of the difference between hoarding and cluttering. The truth is that they are not one and the same. Even though they are both often a manifestation of deeper psychological issues like anxiety or depression, that is where the similarity ends. According to Mike Nelson, author of the book, “Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life”, while cluttering is a self-diagnosed condition, hoarding is not. Hoarding must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist and medications are often prescribed. He goes on to say that a hoarder “cannot make rational decisions about what is useful and what is not. A hoarder obsesses about their stuff and is compelled to collect it, yet they are usually unaware of anything being wrong.”
I am doubtful that Feng Shui can be used to help a hoarder unless they start to recognize that they have a problem. Just like an alcoholic must admit that they have a problem with alcohol before healing can take place, I believe this is also true for a person who hoards.
Using Feng Shui tools to allow a clutterer to shift their space is a much more likely solution and it starts with a Feng Shui bagua. You will need to virtually place a Feng Shui bagua over your space, oriented to the front door. Once that is in place, you will be able to determine which of the rooms in your home or business have the most clutter or hoarding tendencies. For example, you may notice that the only place in your home that gets cluttered is in your Money area. It is dangerous to over-simplify why that is the case, so don’t try to figure it out unless you notice a repeat pattern. If you clean it up and then a few days later, it has somehow managed to get just as bad if not worse than it was, there could be something more than clutter going on here. Or, there may be some issues around money that you need to shift within your own thinking process in order to eliminate it for good.
Regardless of whether you have borderline hoarding tendencies or you are a plain ‘ol clutterer, the bottom line is that you will start to know your own inner workings better by becoming an ardent observer of your surroundings. The fact is that your external surroundings REFLECT your inner world. If it is cluttered or full of broken things that no longer have a purpose, you can use the tools of Feng Shui to learn to let go. It may not be easy, but it will change your life, if you let it.