I was recently with a client and working with her on her entire home that had been bombarded by her own past and that of her parents. In our first conversation she said, “I don’t want to be like my parents who I believe are “collectors” or maybe even hoarders.” I can’t tell you how many people say a similar comment in regard to their family. They may blame their parents or a parent for why they can’t let things go and let their “stuff” pile up. Is clutter-making genetic? Therein, leaving their mind cluttered; wasting time looking for things and effecting their self esteem because they are so overwhelmed by all of it that they become stunted. I started researching and found some stunning insight and research based facts regarding inheriting the “clutter gene”. It is still debatable between the professionals. I believe that it is a combination of hereditary and learned behavior.
After doing Residential Professional Organizing for 21 plus years, I do believe that people can change their habits (the 60 day thing) if repetition is consistent and daily. However, it is quite a challenge for many of us in this land of fast-paced living and the “Distraction Crisis” with social media sucking up so much of people’s time where they could be purging ancient relics from their homes. I have some of my own personal habits that seem impossible to conquer. The first step is being aware. My client with her fear of becoming like her parents and many other clients with the same dread, have taken the first step – getting professional help. So, I will leave theory or fact of inheriting a “clutter gene” open for discussion. Here are a few professional views on this.
“Exactly what triggers hoarding compulsions and desires is still under investigation. Like OCD, it may be related, at least in part, to genetics and upbringing.” –Mayo Clinic
“But biology is not destiny. Just because somebody has a genetic predisposition to develop a certain behavioral condition, that doesn’t mean they are doomed.”
-David F. Tolin, Ph.D., founder of the Anxiety Disorders Center at The Institute of Living in Hartford, CT
“People who have a compulsive urge to collect and clutter their homes with junk can partly attribute their problem to genes, according to a British study.”
Researchers from King’s College London used a twin study to find that genetic predisposition explained a large amount of the risk for compulsive hoarding – a mental health problem in which people have an overwhelming desire to accumulate items normally considered useless, like old newspapers or junk mail.
Of the more than 5000 twins in the study, roughly two percent showed symptoms of compulsive hoarding and genes appeared to account for half of the variance in risk.
Researcher Dr. David Mataix-Cols said it has long been known that compulsive hoarding tends to run in families.
But he told Reuters Health that what has not been clear is whether that pattern is due to genes or to something in the home environment, like parenting practices.
“Twin studies allow us to separate these two sources,” Mataix-Cols said.
The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, included both identical and fraternal twins. Identical twins share all of their DNA while fraternal twins share roughly half of their genes, making them no more genetically similar than non-twin siblings.
If genes are a more important factor than shared environment in a given disorder, then identical twins would be more similar in their risk of the problem than fraternal twins would be.
Mataix-Cols and his colleagues found that among female identical twins, when one twin showed compulsive hoarding symptoms, the other twin also did 52 percent of the time. Among fraternal twins, that figure was 27 percent.
There was no evidence, however, that environmental factors shared by twins contributed to compulsive hoarding. Instead, “non-shared” environmental factors – those unique to individuals – seemed to be at work.
Past research has shown that many people with hoarding problems have a history of traumatic events, according to Mataix-Cols. In particular, they have elevated rates of sexual abuse and “loss” – of a loved one or a home, for instance.
“What the study suggests is that genes are important, but probably some environmental stressors are needed to cause or trigger the hoarding problem,” said Mataix-Cols, adding more research is needed into this topic.
He said the hope was to find better therapies for compulsive hoarding as behavioral therapy and antidepressants are now the main forms of treatment, but they have met with limited success.
1) Come into your body
Research shows that there’s an inverse relationship between a busy mind and actually being present in your body. So just take a gentle scan of your body, all the way from your toes to hips to torso, arms, face, and head. Notice if there’s tension anywhere. If there is, just allow that to soften—gently stretch or adjust your body in any way that softens your body. Gentle body scan.
2) Surround yourself with green
If you’re in an office all day or in a concrete area of a big city, see if you can put more greenery around you (greenhouses count if you’re not near a park). Find ways to get out to areas that have more nature. And also, if there’s sunshine, 20 minutes of sunshine is good for a greater resiliency and a greater sense of well-being.
Yes, play is not only for kids. Play is a natural antidepressant; play creates resiliency; play helps us integrate learning more. So, find ways to play. It’s healthy for you, it will help make you more focussed, and more productive—whether it’s getting on the ground with kids, or doing things you don’t normally give yourself permission to do, or watching a humorous video. Whatever It is, find more ways to play.
Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is hosting an online course to help people fully integrate mindfulness into their lives in a deep way in order to realize more enduring change. The in-depth 6-month online course called A Course in Mindful Living runs in January 2017. Sign up now to join a community of people growing in confidence, calm, compassion and a life you love.
If any of you are buying too many things that you don’t need, then read up on Honey. A Google app that saves you money. Remember, purge your “stuff” before you buy anything new. Contact me for a FREE phone consult!
“The topic is broad enough to expand into dozens of articles, so this top 10 list tackles only some of the most staggering results of studies and surveys pertaining to social media. Chances are, if you’re reading this you participate in social media in some way or another, so next time you go to check your Facebook, retweet an interesting link, or choose an Instagram filter for a selfie, think about the ways your brain is processing the seemingly endless stream of information it is taking in.”
HT to Caitlin Probst
1. Social media is addictive.
Studies show that 63% of Americans log on to Facebook daily, and 40% log on multiple times each day. People use the site for myriad reasons; however, it usually serves, on some level, the same basic purposes: distraction and boredom relief. “Likes” and comments are positive reinforcement for posting information, making it difficult for a person to stop. Researchers have found this so common that they created a scale to measure this addiction: The Berge Facebook Addiction Scale.
2. Social media makes us compare our lives with others’.
Posts on social media many times present an idealized version of what’s happening, what something looks like, or how things are going. This can lead users to constantly compare themselves to others and think less of their own lives. If things are going particularly well for people in your newsfeed and you’re having a rough day, of course this will likely negatively affect your mood. In fact, in 2012 a team of researchers in the UK surveyed users, 53% of whom said social media had changed their behavior; 51% said it was negative behavior because of decline in confidence they felt due to unfair comparisons to others.
3. Social media makes us restless.
Out of the same sample as the above example, two-thirds admitted to having difficultly relaxing when unable to use their social media accounts.
4. Social media gives rise to cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is an enormous concern, especially for adolescents. An organization that aims for internet safety, called Enough is Enough, conducted a survey that found 95% of teenagers who use social media have witnessed cyberbullying, and 33% have been victims themselves.
5. Social media glamorizes drug and alcohol use.
A study that explored the relationship between teenagers, social media, and drug use found that 70% of teenagers ages 12 to 17 use social media, and that those who interact with it on a daily basis are five times more likely to use tobacco, three times more likely to use alcohol, and twice as likely to use marijuana. In addition, 40% admitted they had been exposed to pictures of people under the influence via social media, suggesting correlation between the two factors. Although a correlation is all it is, it makes sense that social media would amp up the amount of peer pressure to which teenagers are exposed.
6. Social media can make us unhappy.
A study from the University of Michigan collected data about Facebook users and how it correlated with their moods. Simply put, they found that the more avid users were overall more unhappy than those who used the site less. Over more time, avid users also reported lower satisfaction in their lives overall.
7. Social media can lead to fear of missing out, aka FOMO.
Fear of missing out is a phenomenon that occurs when you feel pressure to be doing what everyone else is doing, attend every event, and share every life experience. It can evoke anxiety and cause social media users to question why everyone is “having fun without them.” Surveys have even found that people feel insecure after using Pinterest because they feel that they aren’t crafty or creative enough. Facebook and Twitter can make people feel like they aren’t successful or smart enough.
8. Social media often leads to multitasking.
How many tabs do you have open right now? How are you even concentrating on one thing? The thing is, you’re probably not – especially if one of those tabs is a social media site. Research has shown that our brains don’t have the capacity to fully focus our attention on two things at once, and instead multitasking causes our brain to quickly switch from one task to another. This hinders information processing and productivity. Closing out your Twitter feed can seriously help you get some work done.
Social media isn’t all about selfie-taking narcissists, cyberbullies, and killing productivity. When used in moderation with the right intentions, it really can achieve what it was first set out to do: connect people. Which brings us to…
9. Social media enhances our connectivity.
A paper linking social media usage to the Freudian ideas of the id, ego, and super-ego cites many examples of positive psychological effects of social media. Perhaps one of the most important points is that social media doesn’t necessarily take us out of the real world. It can instead be used to revive and preserve relationships with other people. Even more exciting about this technological world is that there is an incredible number of like-minded people who can connect in just one click. Research presented in the journal The British Psychological Society found that students who experience low self-esteem can take advantage of social media and its capability to bond them with others in order to pull themselves up from slumps in their mood.
10. Social media can help with socialization.
Research presented at the 119th annual American Psychological Association found that introverted adolescents can actually gain social skills by using social media. In part, this is because shy individuals may feel safer behind a computer screen (or smartphone, or tablet, or… well, you get the idea…it’s everywhere). Dr. Larry D. Rosen, who presented the information, also stated that teens were becoming very good at virtually expressing empathy towards others.
As a Professional Organizer, I work with a lot of different flavors of people. It seems that almost all of my clients or new clients say that they have ADHD or ADD. I ask them if they were diagnosed. It’s amazing how many of them answer “yes” and have self-diagnosed themselves and not been diagnosed by a professional. In this media saturated society and with the omnipotent pressure by media and society to “Be all that you can be”, we are simply – overwhelmed. “Overwhelmed” is the word that I constantly hear from clients, friends, family and associates. Organization of the mind (Mind Organizing) plays a key role in helping to ease this anxiety and focus challenge.
Below are some questions from the World Health Organization that may help you see if you actually do have ADHD.
ADHD or OBLT? (Overwhelmed By Life Today)
If you answer Often or Very Often (on a ranking scale of Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Often or Very Often) to four or more of the following questions, it may be beneficial to consult with a health professional to see if you have ADHD. In the last six months….
How often do you have trouble wrapping up the final details of a project once the challenging parts have been done? (never/rarely/sometimes/often/very often)
How often do you have difficulty getting things in order when you have to do a task that requires organization?
How often do you have problems remembering appointments or obligations?
When you have a task that requires a lot of thought, how often do you avoid or delay getting started?
How often do you fidget or squirm with your hands or feet when you have to sit for a long time?
How often do you feel overly active and compelled to do things, like you were driven by a motor?
Source: World Health Organization
I recommend reading some of my past posts. Here is one to get startedà
Many of my clients over these past years have said that they can organize “It” themselves but that they are simply overwhelmed and can’t seem to make it happen.
They also think that they know how the best way to organize is but then they don’t end up doing it. The next thing you know, years have gone by and an accumulation of “stuff” is still lingering in every room, garage, attic or basement. They also waste a lot of time in their lives looking for things. The average American spends 72 hours per year looking for documents. There is a reason why I became a Professional Organizer. Not only because I had skills in multiple areas of business and trades but because I wanted to help individuals and families delete chaos from their homes and in their minds.
Life can be stressful enough. I always say, “When you are sick and not getting better, you go to the doctor.”. Sure, we all “could do” or have talent to do many things but the reality is that we may not have the skills and expertise or education to suddenly become a botanist or computer guru. That’s why we look for professional help. You know those people who have multiple problems in their lives with their emotions or psychologically and they say, “I can figure it out myself. I don’t need help.”? Well, usually, they don’t get counseling and then repeat the same behaviors and patterns of thinking and become recidivist-like in their own.
Do you suffer from anxiety and/or anxiety-depression disorder? Please respond to this post at the email below if you want to participate in a questionnaire and get a free organizing phone consult or via email.