Archive for October, 2014

Hoarding: When Too Much is Not Enough

October 31, 2014

Many people struggle to maintain cluttered or disorganized homes, but when someone compulsively collects items in a way that cause health problems or other difficulties for that individual or others in the home or neighborhood (or for pets), it is possible that the person is actually suffering for a mental health disorder. Hoarding seems to be linked with anxiety and difficulty making decisions. It can be effectively treated.

Hoarding sometimes gets mentioned in the news when people keep large groups of animals, but it is more common to hoard food or belongings. Hoarding is not well-known or well-studied at this time, and many people are too embarrassed to get help.

If you are worried about someone’s hoarding behaviors, it is not helpful to demand that they stop hoarding or to try to force them to give up their collections. Being exposed and forced to make changes is likely to be frightening and so shameful that they will be too overwhelmed and upset to take action. Instead, offer extra support and reassurance, and be sure to advocate for your own needs if you live with some whose collecting behaviors are making the environment unsafe or unsanitary.

Conflict Guidelines

October 23, 2014

The next time you find yourself in a conflict, remember these guidelines:

Try to stay calm. If you don’t overreact, people are more likely to consider your viewpoint. If you start to feel like you may lose control, take a time-out and remove yourself from the situation. Take a walk, practice deep breathing, or do something that can help you to feel in control again.

Be specific. When it comes to talking about what’s bothering you, vague complaints aren’t useful. State the problem clearly and stick to the facts. Don’t get caught up in the symptoms of the problems instead of the actual issue.

Don’t get too personal. Personally attacking the other person creates an atmosphere of distrust, anger, and vulnerability. This environment is not optimal for working through issues and can make problems worse.

One thing at a time. Make sure that the first issue is fully discussed and resolved before bringing up new topics or complaints.

Don’t hold grudges. Bringing up old grievances or letting hurt feelings build up over time is not productive, especially if they don’t belong in a particular argument. Don’t let old grudges steer your discussion off course. Instead, deal with problems as they arise.

Avoid accusations. They can cause the other person to get defensive rather than trying to understand what you have to say. Instead, talk about how the other person’s actions made you feel. Try saying something like, “I feel angry when…” instead of, “You always make me angry when…”.

Change perspectives. Try to see the problem through the other person’s eyes. Invite them to share their point of view, and don’t interrupt. You may not agree with their viewpoint, but it can still make sense to you.

Set a time limit. Attention spans are notoriously short. Dragging out a discussion rarely helps to reach a resolution. It just wears you out and can lead to saying something you’ll regret. If the conflict is not resolved in 30 minutes, continue it later.

Be willing to compromise. There may not be a perfect solution that pleases everyone. Instead, work to find common ground in which both people feel like their concerns are being heard and needs are addressed.