As a child I never heard the expression ‘de-cluttering.’ It is often talked about these days. There are articles in magazines and on the internet. It is even possible to pay someone to help you de-clutter your house if you require assistance.
When I was a child people generally didn’t have as much ‘stuff’ as they do now. I was born in the 1950s when there were still some post-war shortages. Things were saved and broken things were fixed. String was unknotted and kept in a tin. Brown paper was ironed and saved. Jars were saved because they would be needed for jam, pickles and relishes. These things were resources and were put to use.
Sometimes people did accumulate too much stuff which they were afraid to part with. They may have had memories of the 1930s Great Depression. What if there was another Depression? They kept all sorts of stuff in the cellar or the shed, just in case. Throwing things away was considered almost ‘sinful’ by some. Even today some people hoard all sorts of things fearing a shortage at some time.
Some accumulate a surplus of things, trying to make themselves feel emotionally secure. We hear of women who keep buying clothes even though they have an extra wardrobe full of clothes still with price tags. Possessions can replace love which is missing from their lives. Some people lack confidence and have low self esteem. Surrounding themselves with lots of material possessions can make them feel a little better; until their neighbour gets a new lounge suite.
A thought has just come to me. Perhaps some people are so busy earning money so they can surround themselves with lots of material possessions that they don’t have time and energy to spend enjoying the company of others. The lack of deep friendships and support could make them feel insecure so they feel a need to buy even more ‘stuff’ to fill that gap in their life.
A few decades ago most people did not accumulate the vast quantities of ‘stuff’ that people do today. These days we have second hand shops, thrift shops and garage sales where one can buy many items at low prices. Some households are in the financial position to buy lots of items new. There are many two income households but this was not the case a few decades ago when women were expected to stay at home.
There are many things we now consider essential. It is not unusual for households to have several televisions and a number of computers. These things, along with mobile phones and other technology quickly become outdated and are replaced. Sometimes the old one is kept or put in the shed.
Eventually the time comes for many when they decide they actually have too much ‘stuff'. It is time to de-clutter and have a garage sale. When they go through their cupboards they are often amazed at how much stuff they have which they never use, had forgotten they owned and don’t need.
I wonder if people tend to accumulate more material possessions these days just because we are living in more affluent times or whether there is an increase in feelings of low self esteem and insecurity as well. I don’t know the answer to this and I think it would be difficult to measure and compare these feelings.