un-hoarding, part 2 . . .

by mulberryshoots

I wanted to note that I’m writing this post on what’s called “Black Friday,” a day of shopping frenzy stirred up by merchants for us to acquire more and more things, hopefully ones that will make the recipients (including ourselves) happier. I’m not against shopping and acquiring stuff so much as I want to be more conscious and intelligent about my own motivations. That is why the book that I talked about in the last post has been so helpful towards developing these self-insights.

I found that I had to wade through half of the book, stories of hard-core hoarders and the author’s experiences with them before I came to what appeared to be the heart and nuts and bolts of the book. There are a number of examples of what the author calls “thought distortions” which cause us to react to things in a fearful or anxious way. What really wrapped up the author’s message, was linking these thought distortions to common genetic dispositions, such as OCD, ADHD, depression and anxiety disorders. I defy you to name one person you know who doesn’t have a tinge or a combo of these so-called behavioral characteristics.

In fact, this brings me to another reflection I’ve had lately, which is that there’s nobody who is untouched or unscathed by some biological or other kind of behavioral malady in our cultural lexicon–nobody. We’re all riddled with tinges of something, even when we might not want to take a peek inside.

That being said, back to the book–and what I’ve learned since. As I was reading it, I remembered how I felt when my mother had given away all of my childhood favorite things without asking me: some dolls, books and stuffed animals. I don’t think I’m trying to make up for their loss by acquiring and having things, but I do know the memory of the insensitivity and lack of love displayed by my mother is what lingers on. Nothing will change the past; and pin-pointing this painful leit-motif reinforces how important it is for me to finally let it go.

You might find parallel or other helpful insights by reading a book such as this. Looking into what motivates me to shop and buy things has been another wellspring of not new understanding, but a validation of what I have known all along. Most people don’t want to bother or stir up the self-image of themselves that they are busily emulating or building. And we’re each on our own personal timetable for staying on that path or coming to an understanding that it’s better to take our own road not taken, than to try to be like someone else.

Instead of buying things today, and in the spirit of these new thoughts, I’m finding myself returning things on “Black Friday” rather than buying more. I also recognize that there are things that I love and would like to have more of. And towards those ends, I’m also freeing myself up to indulge myself — just so long as I follow the “in and out” rule. For each thing in, another has to go out (to give away or to discard.)

Then, it’s possible for a stasis of having just enough of everything you really, really want to become a way of life, rather than an unreachable fantasy.

Let’s wait and see how this turns out.