I was recently captivated by the article “The mess he made: A life-long slob decides it’s time to get organized” by Michael Rosenwald in the June 7 issue of The Washington Post. As the title of the article references, the piece is a first-person narrative of a diagnosed hoarder who went to see Randy Frost for help to change his ways. During Rosenwald’s visits with Frost, he came to the following inspiring conclusion:
This didn’t feel as bad as I had thought it would. I kept telling myself, This stuff isn’t me. If it all disappeared in a fire, my body would not implode, my identity wouldn’t turn to ashes. I would emerge, walking out the front door with soot on my face, the same person I was before the flames, only without the stuff. The stuff was not me, the stuff was not me — it felt like some self-help mantra. The more I told myself that story, the easier the tossing became.
Rosenwald’s realization — that his things are not him — is one we all have to go through if we want to make the transition from a clutterer into an unclutterer. This change of mindset was essential for me when I started my transformation. I saw my vast collection of things as proof I had lived a fun and exciting life, when in fact my clutter was actually preventing me from having a good life. It wasn’t until I realized my unhealthy relationship with my things that I could finally let go of all the trinkets, papers, doodads, and memorabilia filling every inch of my space.
Unfortunately, Rosenwald reverts to his messy ways at the end of the article, but hopefully he’ll keep practicing his new unclutterering skills. He seems to have already made the hardest step — a change in his relationship with his things.