12 Step Program to stay Decluttered
My Name is Pam and I’m a Crapaholic
Clutter is a spiritual problem.
A lovely woman reported she had systematically and completely decluttered her family home, but she asked, “How do I keep from bringing the clutter back in?” She went on to say she yo-yos between a peaceful streamlined home and one that’s cluttered and filled with tension. If you frequent auctions, church bazaars, garage and estate sales, chances are you’re a junk junkie and unfortunately there’s not an AA-type program for you.
But you could use the 12-Steps with just a few adjustments. In fact as I was thinking about the problem of having too much stuff and I really believe it’s a spiritual problem and the spiritual aspects of the 12 steps really apply. This is what I imagine crapaholics would say:
1. We admitted we were powerless over articles priced under a dollar, – that our homes had become unmanageable because of them.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and why we love other people’s junk.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs: storage units, filled basements, bloated garages and stuffed attics.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Made a list of all venues where junk is sold, i.e. Goodwill, Salvation Army, auctions, barn sales, garage sales, church rummage sales and bazaars.
9. Made a promise to stay away from those venues.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly get rid of what we bought.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to crapaholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
I hope you’re not insulted with my play on AA, but I truly believe that hoarding and collecting too much stuff is a spiritual problem. I’d never read the 12 steps before writing this essay and I can see now why AA is so successful. My heart goes out to all of you who are staying sober because of this profound program. You’ll note (if you are familiar with AA) that I didn’t alter any of the steps that included God in them, because it’s no joke, no matter what your problem, go to God first.
We as Americans do have a big spiritual problem; we haven’t learned when enough is enough. The woman I spoke of who asked for help, said she loves “collections,” and I’ve been in many homes where the collections had got out of hand! One woman had more than 500 Precious Moments figurines! Friends, more than 10 and they lose their preciousness. I think I know what’s behind “collecting.” It feeds a woman’s natural urge to gather. That urge is why we love to shop looking for just the right berry, nut, vegetable or purse. Men have the “hunting” instinct and that’s why they make lousy shoppers. They already know what they’re hunting for, they go straight to it and head to the cashier.
Dave Ramsey made a comment on the radio many times. He said, “Until all your credit cards are paid off, the only reason you get to go to a restaurant is if you work in it.” If you’ve spent a great deal of your time de-junking, you know how much energy your excess stuff takes. The only reason you get to go to a yard sale is to drop stuff off.
If you enjoyed my essay and want to read more, here’s a link to chapter seven in my latest book, The Joy of Being Disorganized. This chapter is about clutter and how to get rid of it once and for all.