When I work with clients, they sometimes tell me about their storage lockers. They confess that most of the time they haven't been to visit it in over a year, and sometimes over three years. They often don't know or remember what's in there.
Sometimes they tell me that they would put things that no longer fit in their home, into their storage locker. They would purposely avoid looking at the things that were already in there because they felt overwhelmed.
Usually I'll say, "Let's go and check out your storage locker." They don't want to. It makes them tense up and feel nauseous. The storage locker has become alimony for their clutter. They can't live with this stuff, so they pay to give their things a separate home.
I was reading an article in the New York Times today that talked about storage lockers. One individual who was interviewed said that he had been paying on the unit $217 a month for over a year. The person said that everything in the storage locker was worth less than what he paid to store it. He said, "Storage is a bad investment, anyway you look at it."
We, as a country, are coming off a thirty plus year buying spree. Real disposable income doubled since 1970. Prices of many things over the years plummeted. Most of this income (all but 2.7%) was spent on these things. By the early 90's, most people on average, had twice as many things as they did 25 years earlier. (http;//tinyurl.com/mvmoyj)
Now that the economy has temporarily buckled, people are generally no longer able to purchase unchecked. They can't feed that purchasing hunger. With the momentum taken away from an often unconscious habit, I'm noticing people are beginning to take an honest look at the their purchases that have filled their homes and are questioning it's value to them. They notice that it is not making them happy. The purchasing never did. It was distracting to buy. The temporary diversion took people's attention away from unhappiness or boredom they were feeling.
That's why this is such a good time to clutter bust. There's a quietness that has been created from the temporary slowdown that is allowing us to clearly look at the things in our environment and see what fits our lives and what doesn't.
I've been working with people, clearing out their storage spaces. When the space is empty, I encourage them to stop renting storage space. There's a strong peace of mind that people feel when they cancel the rental. They no longer have to think about the things in there, or try to avoid thinking about them. That's one huge less thing for them to think about.
The storage locker doesn't have to be rented space. It can be a crawl space like the one I talked about in a previous week's clutter busting blog. It can be storage space in the basement of the apartment you are renting.
It can be your garage that used to be a place for your cars. I worked with a woman last month in her garage. She was resistant to even looking in her garage. She felt guilty about how it had been taken over by clutter. I finally got her to go in there. She actually shielded her eyes. I went into the stuff and started asking questions. I brought some of it out onto the driveway so she could get some breathing space and think more clearly. The momentum of the process of asking kindly kicked in and she relished letting most of the things go. We cleared out enough space for her to park her car in there again.