Are You A Saver Or A Tosser? A Peek Into The Main "Organization Personalities"
Fun fact! Everyone has a penchant for organizing—not just type-A people. In fact, the act of organizing isn't about deciding whether to throw out or keep the things you own, as many of us have come to believe.
We're not as burdened under the weight of our mothballed sweaters from five seasons ago as we are by the fear and stress brought on by a chaotic world that lets us control some things and not others. It is often our "control misfires" that lead us to a disordered relationship with our things.
We might think an organizational system of boxes and bins will be the answer. It's true that labeling and categorizing might give you a sense of control for a little while, but making peace with what it is you're holding on to is how you'll empower yourself in the long run. Essentially, organizing should not be about making quick decisions about what to do with the "stuff."
Instead, it's better to focus on confronting your relationship with things you own. It doesn't matter whether you're a minimalist or a maximalist. In the end, your goal is to live in peace, harmony, and balance with everything you own, and that looks different for everyone.
To start, let's look at some of the organizing personalities.
I'm often asked what makes a person a saver and what makes someone a tosser, and, suffice to say, it's a bit more nuanced than that. Those who like to hold on to things (we might affectionately call them pack rats) have a tendency toward indecisiveness. Ambivalence is a main reason we find it difficult to let go of things, even if those things negatively impact how we live and function at home. Holding on to things might make us feel like we're in control, but really, we're losing control.
Here are a few reasons you might be a saver:
- You're stuck in the past: You might feel overcome with deep sentimentality for a wide variety of items.
- You're fearful of what's to come: Maybe you are gripped by a belief that saving items will shore you up against unforeseen events in the future, or maybe you're holding on to them so you won't have to rebuy them.
- You feel too guilty to let go: Perhaps you feel bad giving away something that was gifted to you or feel that something is too expensive to toss.
Tossers also feel anxiety and ambivalence about their things. Just like savers, they can experience feelings of helplessness and being overwhelmed, and they might think it's faster to just get rid of something than to think it through. Here's more info about tossers:
- Getting rid of something gives you an instant release and relief from the rising cortisol levels and stress brought on by what you perceive as a mess that needs clearing.
- While tossers tend to be more celebrated than hoarders (your habits are often mistaken for minimalism) you may never have learned how to truly organize your home.
- At a loss for where to put things, you can fall back on your habit grooves and become frustrated when having to rebuy items you tossed a few months earlier.
- You might end up feeling irresponsible and guilty for mindlessly decluttering, but you don't know how to process those feelings in order to break the cycle.
P.S. I'm definitely a tosser! And my husband, Travis, aka Mr. Meticulous, is a saver. So we have to negotiate what is saved and tossed in our home—even if it means Travis going through the toss-away bags that I'm ready to donate to specific organizations or give to other people. He just can't help himself.
All of that said, this doesn't need to happen. The Home Therapy method offers therapy-based tools to confront these feelings head-on and move forward in happy, healthy ways.
Adapted from an excerpt of Home Therapy. Copyright © 2022 by Anita Yokota. Principle photographs copyright © 2022 by Ali Harper. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Random House.
Anita Yokota is a licensed marriage and family therapist turned interior designer who emphasizes the importance of incorporating wellness throughout the home. Domino named Anita’s site the Best New Design Blog and her work has been featured in MyDomaine, Apartment Therapy, Real Simple, and many others. Anita lives in Southern California with her husband and their three daughters.