There are innumerable reasons people are plagued by clutter. Most reasons, however, fall into one of three categories:
- External: This clutter might be from living with a cluttered parent/roommate/spouse, physical disability, or inherited clutter
- Behavioral: This clutter might be from mediocre decision-making skills, lack of energy, or poor categorization and classification skills
- Internal: This clutter might be from grief, depression, anxiety, distrust, or being overly sentimental
Clutter rooted in external causes can be tricky to overcome. Since you can’t transform someone else into an unclutterer, you may be continually plagued with clutter as long as you live in the same space as your parent/roommate/spouse. If you’re struggling with inherited clutter, the situation may be stressful as you take the time to sort through the property you’ve acquired, but the clutter will likely be temporary. It can be difficult to predict or solve external causes of clutter, but there are often ways to manage it, and sometimes even solve it.
Clutter resulting from behavioral causes can be more manageable than the other categories of clutter. You can learn and/or improve skill sets, change habits, and find ways to increase energy levels. It can take awhile to overcome these behaviors, but it is possible for people of sound mind and body to do so within a reasonable amount of time.
Internal clutter is similar to external clutter in that its solution varies greatly from situation to situation. In many cases, treatment from a licensed mental health practitioner or a doctor can be a positive first step in the process. For people who are overly sentimental, uncluttering assistance from a professional organizer or trusted friend might be all someone might need. Again, similar to external clutter, it can be difficult to solve internal causes of clutter, but there are often ways to manage it, and sometimes even solve it. Seeking help from an outside source is almost always a good idea, but the source and duration of help can vary widely.
If you’re like me, you might see your clutter issues stemming from more than one of these three categories — or even from a cause that isn’t external, behavioral, or internal. Clutter is a complex issue, but knowing why it is in your life can go a long way to helping you find a solution.