Are you a compulsive shopper, a hoarder, or just messy?

It can be challenging to determine whether you are a compulsive shopper, a hoarder or just messy. They can all lead to a cluttered and disorganised living space, but there are key differences between the 3.

What is Compulsive shopping?

Compulsive shopping is characterised by the excessive or impulsive need to buy things. Compulsive shoppers may feel a rush of pleasure or relief when shopping. Unlike hoarders, compulsive shoppers typically don’t have difficulty discarding items but have difficulty controlling the urge to buy.

How about Hoarding?

Hoarding is a recognised mental disorder characterised by persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions, regardless of their actual value. Hoarding can be a serious problem affecting an individual’s physical and emotional well-being and the safety of those around them. Hoarders often have difficulty managing their possessions and may experience significant stress, anxiety, and embarrassment due to their behaviour.

On the other hand, being messy is generally considered a habit or personality trait rather than a disorder. Messy people may have difficulty keeping their living space organised, but they do not typically experience the same distress or impairment as hoarders. They may be able to part with their possessions but have trouble maintaining order or keeping track of their things regularly.

To determine whether you are a compulsive shopper, a hoarder or just messy, consider the following:

  • Quantity of possessions: Compulsive shoppers are urged to buy things they don’t need. Hoarders tend to accumulate large quantities of possessions that can fill their living space and make it challenging to move around. They may have difficulty discarding these items, even when they are no longer needed or wanted. On the other hand, Messy people may have too many possessions, but they are not necessarily hoarding them.
  • Impact on daily life: Compulsive shopping can lead to financial issues. Hoarding can significantly impact daily life, making it difficult to use the living space for its intended purpose and putting the individual and those around them at risk. Messy people may experience some inconvenience or frustration due to their messiness, but it does not usually create significant problems in their daily lives.
  • Emotional distress: Compulsive shoppers feel guilty about their spending habits. Hoarders often experience high levels of emotional distress, anxiety, or embarrassment due to hoarding behaviour. Messy people may be annoyed by their messiness but do not usually experience the same emotional distress as hoarders.

Read: Scrapays Guide to Decluttering

You are probably thinking to yourself – How does this concern me?

While these three issues are fundamentally different, there are still some similarities. Here is how: 

Poor shopping habits, such as impulse buying or buying in excess, can lead to hoarding if the behaviour is not addressed. When you buy too much of an item or items you do not need or have the space for, you stop organizing your things, and the messiness becomes clutter. 

Over time, this clutter can accumulate and become difficult to manage, leading to hoarding behaviour. Additionally, some people may develop a psychological attachment to their possessions, making it difficult to part with them.

In other words, poor shopping habits may lead to more things than you need or have space for, which can quickly turn into hoarding when you don’t organise or throw away items you don’t need.

Now, do you get the picture? Next time you feel the urge to buy out of compulsion or just because you can, let these thoughts be your guide: 

  • Do you need to buy this now
  • How useful is it going to be two weeks from now
  • I have one already why do I need to buy another
  • Is the new version of this item better than the current one
  • I should probably give away/discard the old one before I get a new one, right
  • Do you have the space?

Read: Healthy Purchasing Habits

These behaviours can negatively impact one’s life and lead to financial, physical, and emotional stress. Hence, it’s important to seek professional help if you are struggling with either hoarding or compulsive shopping.

If you think you might have any of these behaviours or are heading in that direction, take preventive measures and seek professional help to address these issues healthily. 

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