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How can one get rid of a subconsciously persistent belief?

How can one get rid of a subconsciously persistent belief?


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How can someone get rid of a belief that he thinks is not true, but at the same time he still suffers guilt whenever he is not acting in accord with that belief?

Here's an example that I made up to explain what I mean:

Imagine a child that was raised on the fact that he was not allowed to make loud noises by either turning the TV volume too loud or by any other means, otherwise the neighbors in the apartment building might complain and call the police. Let's say that he's now a grown man who lives in a large house on a large piece of land, however, he still experiences guilt whenever he makes any loud noise. He is fully conscious of the fact that his guilt is irrational and there is no problem with making a loud noise.


PositivePsychology.com’s Useful Resources

This Graded Exposure Worksheet will introduce individuals to an exposure technique for overcoming fears. The exposure to feared objects, activities, or situations in a safe environment can help gradually reduce avoidance and anxiety.

The Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise is a tool that can help reduce muscle tension and associated stress and anxiety. The technique involves progressively tensing and relaxing muscles in different parts of the body, leading to a reduction in physiological tension.

The Facing the Effect of Fear-Based Beliefs on Goal Achievement exercise aims to help clients understand the consequences of fear-based beliefs for goal achievement and personal growth. The individual is asked to identify a personal goal and to consider the potential outcomes related to certain beliefs about this goal.

The Leaving The Comfort Zone exercise was designed as a visual aid for people to understand the costs of staying in the comfort zone and the necessity to leave this zone to experience growth. This may be particularly useful for those experiencing cherophobia, as it will help clients realize how their fears are inhibiting them from fulfilling life experiences.


How Long It Takes to Break a Habit?

There&rsquos no magic number of repetitions that&rsquoll get you to internalize the habits you want. Researchers have proposed several different ways of understanding habit formation.

The 21-Day Rule (or Myth?)

One of the earliest and most popular pieces of literature on the subject is Psycho-Cybernetics (1960) by Maxwell Maltz. Dr. Maltz who was a plastic surgeon wanted to understand how people viewed themselves. In particular, he was curious about how long it took for patients to get used to changes he made during surgery.

Based on observing his patients and reflecting on his own habits, he determined that it took at least 21 days for people to adjust. He used this information as the basis for many &ldquoprescriptions&rdquo in his self-help oriented Psycho-Cybernetics. [2]

Since then, self-help gurus have latched onto the idea of taking 21-days to change habits. People began to forget that he said &lsquoa minimum of about 21 days&rsquo instead of &lsquoit takes 21 days to form a new habit.&rsquo

Give Yourself a Month?

Another popular belief in self-help culture states that habits take 28 to 30 days to form.

One proponent of this rule, Jon Rhodes, suggests: [3]

&ldquoYou must live consciously for 4 weeks, deliberately focusing on the changes that you wish to make. After the 4 weeks are up, only a little effort should be needed to sustain it.&rdquo

This was a generally agreed-upon figure, but the 21-day rule popularized by readers of Maltz was more appealing to many people because it was easy to understand, and it was faster than the general 28-30 rule.

If you want to know more about the myths of how long it takes to break a habit, check out this video:

The Time-Frame for Changing Habits Varies

While the 21 and 28-day rules appeal to our desire to change quickly, a 2009 study from University College London suggests that the window for change can be much wider. The research, published in The European Journal of Social Psychology, followed habit-formation in 96 people over a 12-week period.

The UCL study looked at automaticity, which is how quickly people engaged in the actions they wanted to turn into habits. Researchers explained: [4]

As behaviours are repeated in consistent settings they then begin to proceed more efficiently and with less thought as control of the behaviour transfers to cues in the environment that activate an automatic response: a habit.

The amount of time that it took for actions to become habits varied. Participants anywhere between 18 and 254 days to form a habit. The average number of days needed to achieve automaticity was 76 days.


Read Something Inspirational Every Day

Literally something, every day – no matter what.

We are thrilled that you read Early to Rise. But what’s the purpose of consuming articles here, or books from other personal development sources?

It doesn’t matter if you read 1,000 pages a day or 10 – if you continually and constantly bombard your brain with useful, hopeful, inspirational content…

And you mentally check yourself and agree with the messages and lessons you learn here and elsewhere…

You’ll begin to rewire your brain.

Michael Masterson has often referenced The Power of One – focusing on just one idea that you can put to work in your life immediately.

The best type of content for you to begin reading is the stuff that directly refutes your beliefs about why you CAN’T be successful.

If you think that you can’t lose weight because you don’t have enough time, read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.

If your mental block stops you from building your business because you think there is too much competition in the marketplace, read Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk.

There’s thousands of books to help you deal with hundreds of mental blocks – all you have to do is look, ask for help, and immerse yourself.

Here is something else that works…


Overcoming Feelings of Inadequacy From the Subconscious Mind

As a child, you probably experienced a time in your life when you were told that you weren’t good enough, or didn’t do something well enough.

Sometimes, you would hear this from your parents, who, out of anger or disappointment, would say something hurtful to you. Other times it would come from your classmates, who would say things like “ you’re not cool enough to hang around with us, go away, nobody likes you “.

Whilst this form of rejection would be damaging to anyone’s self esteem, it is even more hurtful and harmful when it occurs during childhood development. One of the main reasons why this is the case, is because young children are highly susceptible to suggestion.

Unlike an adult who has already lived for many years, a child has a very limited life experience, and therefore, their knowledge of the world is also limited.

The result of this inexperience is that children have a natural tendency to believe what other people tell them. For the simple reason that they have not acquired enough information about the world to argue against or reject what people say to them.

Due to a limited life experience children have a natural tendency to believe what others say about them.

This is why during early child development anything is possible for a child, and also why they tend to have such a vivid imagination.

However, as the child continues to develop and society begins to impose restrictions on their beliefs (by telling them what is real/not real, right/wrong) their imagination, creativity and open-mindedness gradually begins to decrease.

A good example of this can be seen with children who believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.

Since the child has been told by their parents that these things are real, they will continue to believe in such magical figures until someone tells them that they do not really exist which then causes the child to reexamine their existing belief and form a new belief.

We all once believed in magical figures until we were made to question and re-examine our belief.

Not all beliefs however, are as innocent as believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, especially if those beliefs are associated with a strong negative emotion such as fear.

For example, a child who is scared of the dark because they think that the boogeyman will get them, will eventually reject this belief when they learn that the boogeyman is not real.

But despite the fact that they no longer believe in the boogeyman, in the subconscious mind of the child, darkness and fear have now been associated together. As a result, this child may continue to fear the dark into their teens or even as an adult.

All the fears that you have in life create an emotional memory within you. These memories can then affect your future behavior.

This exact same principle applies to all our childhood experiences, such as those where we were told by others that we weren’t good enough. These negative statements which subsequently generate a negative feeling within us, become stored as emotional memories deep inside the subconscious.

Later in life, whenever something triggers those memories, we automatically feel the feeling associated with that emotional memory.

For example, suppose that when you were a child you failed to do something. As a result of your failure, you were then made to feel inadequate by another person who told you that “ you’re hopeless “, “ you’re good for nothing ” or that “ you can’t do anything right “.

Since as a child your mind is still very impressionable, you accept that you are “good for nothing” because of what you failed to do. This acceptance then results in the creation of a subconscious emotional memory, where failure becomes linked to feelings of inadequacy.

This memory will also become part of your belief system, which will then influence how you see yourself and the world you live in.

Once this negative childhood experience has been stored in your subconscious, it will continue to affect you for the rest of your life unless you do something to change it.

Your beliefs determine how you view yourself and the world you live in.

For example, since you now believe that you are good for nothing you expect to fail, and so you miss out on many opportunities in life because you did not go after them.

Or if you do experience some kind of failure in your life, your subconscious feelings of inadequacy are reactivated which then causes you to feel like you’re good for nothing, just like how you were made to feel as a child.

As you can see from the above example, in both cases, the negative subconscious belief which was created as a result of a negative childhood experience is self reinforcing. This means that the negative belief has a tendency to grow stronger by itself.

Negative beliefs are self reinforcing because they tend to promote behavior that is consistent with those beliefs.

Overcoming this belief can be difficult, because it has been stored in your subconscious since you were a child. So even though you may say to yourself “ I can do this ” or “ I am not a failure “, your subconsciously stored emotional memory will continue to make you feel inadequate.

This is an extremely important point to recognize, because your emotions and the feelings that you experience as a result of them, are a very powerful motivator of human behavior. So powerful that they can cause you to automatically do things you don’t really want to do.

For example, if you are very angry you might hit someone, but later regret doing it. Or you may suddenly find yourself trembling with fear, even though consciously you feel that there is nothing to be afraid of.

Essentially, what this means is that your subconscious emotional memories can dominate your conscious thought processes, by causing you to feel a negative emotion when you are trying to feel a positive emotion.

So even though you may be trying to think and feel confident, your emotional memories continue to make you feel inadequate.

Your subconscious mind can make you feel bad about yourself even though you may be trying to feel good about yourself.

Another important point to recognize about emotions is that the subconscious tends to place greater value on two types of information:

1) Powerfully charged emotions
2) Frequently entered information

Since people tend to think about their negative beliefs a lot, and experience emotional discomfort from them, this self reinforcing nature shows exactly why negative beliefs can be so hard to get rid of.


How to Avoid and Stop Being Superstitious

• Write down a list of your superstitious beliefs, and rate them with value between one (weakest) and ten (strongest).

• Notice your emotional reactions when you’re writing down those beliefs. Do you feel sad, scared, anxious, happy or excited to each item in your list?

• Determine how often you succumbed to an irrational belief, by performing or not performing certain actions. You should also measure the feeling of annoyance, grief, inconvenience, joy or relief associated with the practices.

• Search for any resources, including the Internet and a local library for the origin of your superstitions, as there are often some historical backgrounds that back their existence. Some websites are dedicated to debunk urban legends and superstitions, reading them can ease your anxiety and make your life superstition-free. For example, bad luck caused by walking underneath a ladder is a popular superstition. The rational consequence is that tools can be unintentionally dropped onto someone under the ladder. It was simply an old work-safety precaution that developed into a full-blown superstition.

• Keep your anxiety at bay. There are thousands of superstitious beliefs out there and they will always become an inseparable part of our society. When a superstitious individual warns you about your recent “improper” behavior, just relax. Keep in mind that certainty only comes from rational actions.

• Be realistic. Many things are planned months in advance, however, there’s no way to determine whether your plans will runs smoothly. Deal with superstitions by expecting the best and you should be aware that negative thoughts can only attract negative outcomes.

• Consider whether your adherence to a belief is bordering on obsession. If this is true, it could be an indication that you need a professional help. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) can actually be considered as an obsessive superstitious syndrome. OCD sufferers are phobically-laden individuals with miswired mind, which perceive the world in a totally different manner, based on specific bizarre beliefs, fears and impulses, which are comparable to superstitions.

• Feel free to maintain practices and beliefs that are culturally significant to you, however remember that they only carry only symbolic meaning instead of literal ones.

• After examining the origin of your superstition and belief system and trying to be realistic, you should re-examine your list. Re-rate your response or anxiety of each item in the list. See if you can finally cross one or a few items in the list. Return to your list regularly and aim to have all the items crossed out sometime in the future.

Although superstitions are completely erroneous, it is proven that the positive power of mind and prayers can improve the probability of success in your life. So make sure, your life is filled with positive energy, thoughts and behaviors, as those ridiculous superstitions have no logical basis whatsoever.


What is Scarcity Mindset?

Scarcity mindset can be the one reason of you not hitting your income goals or earning enough money in your current job, or by doing what you love, even if you are very hard working, smart, talented and use a “proven” strategy to succeed.

Scarcity mindset can be seen as a feeling of lack, fear of spending or losing the money, fear of being broke or in debt, feeling that “everything is so expensive”, feeling like we never have enough money, or that we are poor or not “rich enough”.

Scarcity mindset is the behavior we subconsciously perform driven by our limiting beliefs about the money. As long as we do not start actually behaving like a wealthy person, we cannot replace our limiting beliefs with empowering ones.

Wealth consciousness requires deep self-reflection (in order to identify limiting beliefs about wealth and money) and doing a lot of mindset work. For deeper and more powerful mindset work and manifesting your dream income goals, consider working with a coach who can help you build a strong and empowering money mindset.

This one was a big game changer for me, as I’m coming from a poor post-war country in South-Eastern Europe and I was witnessing a lot of poverty in my childhood during the war (having a bread on the table was a big deal, and I remember standing in a queue with my mom to collect the box with humanitarian aid with some oil and flour). I grew up in a middle-class family and learned that earning money is hard and that money doesn’t grow on trees and that one cannot get very rich by doing an “honest” work and by doing what you love (a.k.a. if you want to have a decent paycheck you need to be a doctor or a lawyer or so…). I was also listening all the time that money corrupts people and rich people are “only into money”.

Nowadays, the living standard in my home country is much better, but it is still a third world country with an average paycheck of 400 Euros. But, since I moved to India in 2014 I started seeing, even more, poverty around me, in Indian slums, which was heartbreaking! This all has made me very grateful for everything that I have in my life, and I do not take anything for granted, but it was also very hard to overcome the scarcity mindset while being surrounded by poverty, poor people, and living in countries with a low living standard.


What Can You Use Tapping Therapy For?

You can use tapping therapy to free yourself from these stored anxieties, stresses, depression, and emotional hurts, and focuses on helping you to better implement positivity and energy into your life.

This can be done by tapping away any limiting beliefs, fears, and internal obstacles that arise when you face obstacles.

When TFT tapping was first used in the 1970s, TFT tapping theory was based on the energy meridians of acupuncture. It was thought that clearing those energy meridians would clear a disruption in the body’s energy system, and so remove negative emotions. However, we have a new understanding based on recent scientific studies.

It has been discovered that the brain does not become fixed by one’s early adult years, but rather, it can be changed at any age. New neural connections can always be formed.

Unfortunately, this can work against us. When we experience trauma or something that triggers a negative emotion, we create neural pathways that support re-triggering that negative emotion.

As an example, if you have an experience that causes you to believe that people are mean or dangerous, you will look for evidence to support this belief and ignore evidence to the contrary.

We also create pathways that support limiting or disempowering beliefs that we may have created in the moment of trauma.

Conditions like phobias and PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome) exist because the brain creates a feedback loop that builds and enhances neural pathways.

Some fears are so strong that they can actually immobilize you. If you have a full-blown phobia, such as fear of flying or fear of being in an elevator, it can seriously inhibit your ability to be successful.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution to most phobias by just doing tapping therapy.

Here’s a video from my YouTube channel of everything in action:


How To Help A Hoarder - Important Do's And Don'ts

Living with a loved one who is a hoarder can be extremely stressful. It probably affects your ability to be as close to that person as you would like. Maybe you avoid visiting your friend or family member in their home. Perhaps you have difficulty spending time together because the hoarding issue takes up space, like an elephant in a very cluttered room.

You probably want to help your loved one. Maybe you've tried a few things, but nothing seems to help. This article aims to help you understand hoarding, its symptoms, causes, and things to do and maybe just as importantly, things not to do to help your loved one on the road to recovery.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, hoarding affects anywhere from 2 to 6 percent of the population. The cause of hoarding disorder is currently unknown, but that does not mean that there are not any effective treatments available that can help provide relief. CBT, or Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, is one of these treatments that are widely available. CBT has worked for countless patients by changing their thoughts towards their possessions. Using CBT, they will gradually become less distressed about holding onto possessions and will have a decreased desire to keep future ones. By reducing the effect that these items have on the person, CBT and other treatments can help people recover from hoarding disorder.

What Exactly is Hoarding Disorder?

According to the Mayo Clinic, "Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distresses at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs." This serious mental health disorder can lead to dangerous living conditions, malnutrition, and poor personal hygiene. While the cause of hoarding is unknown, experts agree it is important for a hoarder to seek professional help as soon as possible after symptoms are identified.

Symptoms of hoarding range from mild to severe. In general, hoarders accumulate and save large volumes of possessions, regardless of their value. Hoarders experience extreme attachment to inanimate objects and severe anxiety when making decisions. These items pile up to the point that they create difficulty using the space for its intended purpose. Occasionally, some of these symptoms can be explained by other disorders such as decreased energy to clean caused by depression or symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, hoarders display a unique combination of symptoms:

  • Acquiring and saving items regardless of their value.
  • Extreme distress at the idea of getting rid of possessions.
  • Accumulating possessions to the point that it makes rooms unusable. For example - Stacks of newspapers on seating and dining areas, piles of clothes on the bed, heaps of possessions causing narrow pathways from room to room.
  • Poor organization, losing important items or documents in the clutter.
  • Conflict with those who try to remove items from home.

As hoarding symptoms increase, the person may experience isolation from others and health issues related to compromised living conditions.

How do I know if my loved one have hoarding disorder?

If your loved one experiences a combination of the symptoms listed above, it is important to encourage the person to seek professional help. The earlier the person seeks help, the more successful the treatment tends to be. Perhaps you see the clutter in your loved one's home as hoarding, but the person only thinks it is messy. If this is the case, it can be useful to use this Clutter Image Rating guide from the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Hoarding Center. If rooms closely match image 4 or above, it is very likely your loved one is a hoarder.

Hoarding is different from collecting. Both activities involve acquiring items to which a person gives a special value that may go beyond the item's actual worth. Collectors tend to organize and display items carefully. Collectors are usually proud of their items and like to talk about them or show them off. Hoarders, on the other hand, are often embarrassed about the status of their living situation. They also may avoid inviting people into their homes.

Though they are different, collecting can become hoarding. When a collection begins to move beyond its designated containers and impede on a person's living space, that collector may be becoming a hoarder. If you start seeing these traits developing in a friend or loved one, it may be time for that person to seek professional advice and treatment.

You may wonder why hoarders keep so many possessions when it seems so obvious that the behavior is unhealthy. Very little is known in the psychology community about what causes a person to begin to hoard. Experts say hoarding tendencies often begin as young as puberty, but most people who seek professional treatment for the disorder do not do so until they are 50 or older.

Some believe hoarding tendencies are related to inherited brain patterns and are related to anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. For some, hoarding begins following a significant traumatic experience.

People who hoard say they acquire and keep items for a variety of reasons:

  • They believe an item will be useful or valuable in the future.
  • They feel it has sentimental value, is unique, or irreplaceable.
  • They feel it is too good of a bargain to pass up or throw away.
  • They think items will help them remember an important person or event they might otherwise forget.

How to help a hoarder - "Don'ts"

Hoarders experience extreme distress at the idea of getting rid of their possessions. It may be tempting to simply clean up for the hoarder. However, like many psychological disorders, forcing someone to change is often not effective and may even backfire and make the problem worse.

  • Don't remove things from the hoarder's home without consent. It may seem like if they could just start with a clean slate, the person would be much better off, but getting rid of clutter does not address the extreme emotional distress caused by the idea of losing valuable or important items. Throwing things away or getting rid of them without permission is not successful in the long-term. The hoarder is likely to revert right back to old behaviors. On top of that, the hoarder may become very upset with you. This can diminish the chances of them seeking professional help.
  • Don't expect the cleaning process or the healing process to happen overnight. It takes a long time for a hoarder to get to the point of having a house that is unsafe, and it can take a long time to change both the environment and the behaviors that caused it.
  • Don't enable their behavior. While taking items against a person's will is not helpful, adding to their clutter by buying or giving them things or taking them on shopping trips is just as bad. Avoid adding to the clutter by showing your love in other ways and spending time doing activities not related to consumption.
  • Don't clean up after them. Just like removing things without permission, cleaning up after a hoarder could keep them from addressing the deeper issues that are leading to the hoarding in the first place.
  • Don't expect perfection. Just like with dieting, spending money, gambling or drinking, a hoarder is likely to experience setbacks even after receiving professional treatment. See these for what they are normal human imperfection and keep showing love and support.

How to help a hoarder - "Do's"

Now you know what not to do if you have a loved one who hoards, but you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to help them. While the disorder that leads to hoarding will likely be something your loved one must face for the rest of their life, the good news is, there are steps you can take to help a hoarder reclaim their space and their lives.

  • Do encourage the person to seek professional help. You cannot force a person to get help against their will, but you can encourage someone by helping them find a therapist and resources in their community to help them get the help they need.
  • Do take the time to learn about hoarding. While TV shows about hoarding may spread awareness about the disorder, many experts say these shows paint an incorrect picture about hoarding and how to help a person who hoards. Look for credible sources like the Mayo Clinic, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the American Depression and Anxiety Association of America.
  • Do help them with their belongings if they ask for help. During or after receiving professional treatment, a hoarder may seek your assistance in dealing with the accumulation of clutter in their home, car, and other spaces. Help when you can or consider seeking professional movers and cleaners if the task becomes too daunting.
  • Do listen to your loved one. Try not to judge them for their hoarding any more than you would judge someone for having a physical health ailment like diabetes or asthma. Hoarding is a mental disorder. It is not something a person simply chooses to do. Your support and openness will go much further toward encouraging your loved one to seek professional treatment than your judgment or disappointment.
  • Do recognize the positive change. Hoarding doesn't happen overnight, and it won't be solved overnight. Encourage and praise your loved one if you see them attempting to clean or organize a small space or making the decision to talk to a professional. Your love and support will be instrumental in helping a hoarder get on track and stay there.

Online therapy can be a convenient, stress-free, yet effective way to start addressing hoarding behaviors, and at BetterHelp, licensed counselors and therapists who are trained to modify behaviors and use techniques such as CBT are available to help people who struggle with hoarding to overcome their thoughts, feelings, and anxiety, about separating from their belongings.

Adapting to life without hoarding will take time, and will be challenging, but by giving people the skills they need to cope, people can live a life free of hoarding. Additionally, maintenance and regular check-ups may also be required to make sure that the individual does not relapse back into old habits. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"I find that Dr. Morritt goes to great lengths to make our interactions very comfortable in a way that I feel safe sharing myself with her. I am not worried about being judged, and I appreciate the times when she empathizes or relates to parts of my life. Dr. Morritt is thoughtful in her responses in a way that allows me to let go, grow, and see other points of view."

"I began working with Courtney during a time when I was very anxious, overwhelmed, stressed, and needing someone to help me work through the chaos in my mind. Courtney was so empathetic, understanding, and non-judgmental, and encouraged me to let go of things that were no longer serving me. Courtney always checked in to see how I was doing if I hadn't been messaging her and that meant a lot to me. I felt respected, heard, and validated. I would recommend her to anyone."

As many as one in 50 Americans suffer from hoarding disorder, but treatment is available to 100 percent of those who have it. When one considers their friends and loved ones, the effects of hoarding are much more widespread. There is no perfect solution to helping a loved one who hoards, but patience, love, and understanding are key and encouraging your loved one to seek professional help is probably the most effective step you can take, and by following the advice in this article, you can make it that much easier.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you get a hoarder to stop hoarding?

Here are some steps to help a hoarder stop hoarding:

A first step is to consider things you or another family member might be doing that may contribute to the love one&rsquos hoarding problem. For example, a sister might save newspapers and give them to her brother who suffers from hoarding, or a mother might pay the monthly bill for a storage unit to allow her daughter to store bottles and magazines. &ldquoHelping&rdquo yourloved one by doing these things is referred to as family accommodation. Usually relatives accommodate because they think it helps or because it avoids arguments. Yet, in reality, accommodation reinforces hoarding behavior, allowing it to become more of a problem in the long run.

In addition to decreasing family accommodation, family members can also benefit from working to improve communication. Discussing the hoarding problem and ideas for problem solving in an open and accepting way is an important first step. Respecting the loved one with hoarding behaviors&rsquo attachments to possessions is critical to being able to hold such discussions. This can help to establish respect for the rights of each member of the household as well. An atmosphere of understanding can help with negotiations to keep certain spaces clutter-free which will help maintain family harmony.

It is important to remember that the path to change is not always a straight line. A loved one may be motivated one minute and ambivalent about changing behavior the next. There might even be periods of getting worse during the process. Don&rsquot force the issue. This pattern is normal. The overall improvement, more than the day-to-day changes, should be the goal.

Sometimes it is important for family members to change their expectations about a loved one&rsquos hoarding behaviors. It is common for family members to tell a loved one with hoarding to stop saving stuff because &ldquohoarding is wrong,&rdquo &ldquohomes should be clean and organized,&rdquo or something similar. Expecting a loved one to show complete organization and cleanliness is simply not realistic &ndash at least not at first. It might help family members to instead set goals and expectations that focus on reducing the harmful consequences of the hoarding &ndash a strategy known as harm reduction &ndash rather than just stopping the hoarding.

Tension in the family can decrease when harm reduction becomes the focus of change rather than getting rid of things. Involving the loved one with in the harm reduction plan can make the process friendlier, which enhances their motivation for change.Often harm reduction gets a loved one started in the change process, and sometimes this energy leads to better decisions about what to acquire and save. But sometimes it doesn&rsquot, and although the home is safer, it may still be cluttered. Harm reduction focuses on reducing danger and increasing safety without focusing on getting rid of clutter.

How do you cure a hoarder?

Treatment of hoarding disorder can be challenging because many people don't recognize the negative impact of hoarding on their lives or don't believe they need treatment. This is especially true if the possessions or animals offer comfort. If these possessions or animals are taken away, people will often react with frustration and anger and quickly collect more to help fulfill emotional needs. However, there are many great program resources available to assist with hoarding. It&rsquos advised that health professionals be consulted to decide on the best treatment plan, including the type of therapy and medications, if needed.It&rsquos important to find a therapist or other mental health professional with experience in treating hoarding disorder to help you find treatment.

The main treatment for hoarding disorder is cognitive behavioral therapy. Medications may be added, particularly if you also have anxiety or depression.

  • Psychotherapy &ndash Psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, is the primary treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most common form of psychotherapy used to treat hoarding disorder.

The cognitive behavioral therapy may include:

  • Learning to identify and challenge thoughts and beliefs related to acquiring and saving items
  • Learning to resist the urge to acquire more items
  • Learning to organize and categorize possessions to help you decide which ones to discard
  • Improving your decision-making and coping skills
  • Decluttering your home during in-home visits by a therapist or professional organizer
  • Learning to reduce isolation and increase social involvement with more meaningful activities
  • Learning ways to enhance motivation for change
  • Attending family or therapists support groups
  • Having periodic visits or ongoing treatment to help you keep up healthy habits
  • Treatment often involves routine assistance from family, friends and agencies to help remove clutter. This is particularly the case for the elderly or those struggling with medical conditions that may make it difficult to maintain effort and motivation.

Is hoarding a mental illness?

Hoarding is a mental health condition and disorder that may be present on its own or as a symptom of another disorder. Those most often associated with hoarding are obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression however, only 2% - 5% of people have this diagnosis.Research has indicated that hoarding, a relatively common disorder among the older people, gets progressively worse as a person gets older. It&rsquos important to find a doctor or therapist who specializes on mental health disorders such as hoarding to determine if the symptoms are psychological or medical in nature. Most mental health facilities have a resource directory for therapistswho can assist you find the right therapist.

What are the 5 levels of hoarding?

Hoarding Level 1

The first level of hoarding is the least severe. The residence of a level 1 hoarder may include:

  • Light amounts of clutter and no noticeable odors
  • All doors and stairways are accessible
  • No more than three areas with animal waste throughout the house
  • Hoarding level 1 involves few signs that an individual has a hoarding disorder. The lack of clutter might hide the condition, but the individual may still have difficulty throwing away items and shop excessively for objects they do not need

Hoarding Level 2

Hoarding level 2 requires a blocked exit from a person&rsquos residence, one appliance not working for at least six months or the presence of a malfunctioning heating, cooling or ventilation system for at least six months. This level of hoarding involves additional clutter around the residence, specifically in two or more rooms, and narrow pathways through the home. There must also be at least a light amount of mildew in one bathroom or the kitchen. Negative health conditions are beginning to appear. Other characteristics include:

  • Light pet odor
  • Pet waste on the floor
  • At least three incidents of feces in a litter box
  • Minimal fish, bird or reptile care
  • Evidence of household rodents
  • Overflowing garbage cans
  • Dirty food preparation surfaces
  • People within hoarding level 2 may avoid inviting people into their homes or show embarrassment due to the state of their residence. This level of hoarding may cause anxiety or a depressed state and lead to withdrawal from social interaction

Hoarding Level 3

Residences within hoarding level 3 have visible clutter outside of the home, including items that are usually indoors (such as televisions and furniture). At least two appliances have been broken for six months, and one area of the house has light structural damage. The number of pets exceeds regulations, and animal tanks and cages are neglected. There is visible and audible rodent evidence, fleas, spider webs and narrow paths through the halls and stairways. Other characteristics include:

  • At least one unusable bathroom or bedroom
  • Small amounts of hazardous substances or spills on the floors or surfaces
  • Excessive dust
  • Dirty clothes, towels and sheets
  • Blocked electrical outlets resulting in tangled cords
  • Overflowing garbage cans
  • Odors throughout the house
  • A person within this level often has poor personal hygiene and weight issues due to an unhealthy diet. An individual in this level of hoarding may become dismissive or angry when approached by friends or family members about the state of their lifestyle

Hoarding Level 4

Residences within hoarding level 4 have noticeable mold and mildew throughout the building, structural damage that is at least six months old, odors and sewage buildup. The number of pets exceeds regulations by at least four, and there are more than three visible areas with aging animal waste. The bedroom is unusable and rotting food is on surfaces. Other characteristics include:

  • Aged canned goods
  • No clean dishes or utensils
  • Beds with lice, or other bugs, and no sheets or covers
  • Excessive webs and spiders
  • Bats and other rodents audibly noticeable in the attic and walls
  • More than one blocked exit
  • Flammable substances stored in the living room
  • People within hoarding level 4 have poor hygiene and may not bathe for weeks. These individuals often have worsening mental health and focus their emotional energy on grandiose plans or nostalgic memories

Hoarding Level 5

Hoarding level 5, the most severe type of hoarding disorder, involves severe structural damage to the residence. Broken walls, no electricity or running water, fire hazards, and visible rodents and other non-pet animals are a few of the characteristics of homes within hoarding level 5. The health and safety of those living in the residence is in dire condition. Other signs include:

  • Clutter filling bathrooms and kitchen
  • At least four too many pets, per local regulations
  • Noticeable human feces
  • Rotting food on surfaces and inside a non-working refrigerator
  • People within hoarding level 5 often do not live at their residence due to the clutter but rather stay at a friend&rsquos or family member&rsquos house. They may also discharge their waste into bottles or buckets that remain inside the home. Individuals within this level of hoarding usually have noticeable symptoms of depression

Are hoarders just lazy?

Contrary to what you might think, people experiencing compulsive hoarding are not just being lazy or careless. And it&rsquos not that they can&rsquot find time to clean. They are experiencing an anxiety-related condition although, there is disagreement in the medical/psychiatric community as to whether hoarding is its own issue, or that compulsive hoarding is a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Although many people experiencing OCD also exhibit hoarding behavior, not all people experiencing OCD also hoard, and many people who hoard have no other symptoms of OCD.

Is a messy house a sign of mental illness?

A messy house could be a sign of a mental illness such as hoarding. However, a messy house could also be indicative of other issues. Here are some possible ones:

A messy room can also be a sign that you have depression

Several of the criteria for a depression diagnosis &ndash hopelessness, fatigue, and lack of concentration &ndashcan all play a role in why your messy room is in the state it's in. If you can barely get out of the bed due to your depressive state, it's unlikely that you&rsquoll have the energy to clean your room. Furthermore, if you're feeling a little less than hopeful, you might have a hard time understanding why you should even bother to clean up or organize things since, from your point of view, everything seems to be going wrong anyway.

Lack of concentration. Lack of concentration, one of the symptoms of depression, can also can make the actual task of cleaning up your room almost impossible. Even if depression isn&rsquot the cause of the forgetfulness, if you're overwhelmed or have a lot going on in your head, cleaning your room can still be a major challenge.

What is the difference between clutter and hoarding?

Hoarding is collecting huge amounts of things, often items of little value (e.g., ketchup packets, newspapers). A hoarder finds it excruciatingly painful to let go of things, so they end up not letting those things go.As a result, stuff piles up in ways that are unsafe, they are oftentimes unable to find items, they don&rsquot clean mainly because there is overwhelmingly too much to clean or it&rsquos too hard to clean, and they find themselves affectingtheir personal and professional relationships.

On the other hand, Clutteris basically a place with a fair amount of mess but, unlike hoarding, the home is safe to move around in. They can straighten up enough to feel at ease having guests over to entertain. In addition, rooms are used the way they're meant to (i.e., no paper piles in the bathtub with hoarding).

Some people collect lots of things, but unlike a hoarder's stuff, these items that are cluttering up the home have value or personal meaning. People with a problem with clutter, however, may have trouble getting rid of the clutter and keeping their home tidy. They might find that they can&rsquot decide which valuable item can stay and which one can&rsquot. They might find it hard to clean and keeping the place clean, even if they get help with cleaning or organizing. Even though it may be clean for a short while, the clutter usually returns.


Belief in Catharsis Is Widespread

The belief in the value of venting is widespread around the world. For example, for over 20 years Tokyo residents have been venting their frustrations at an annual screaming contest. The use of a concept in the popular press is a sign of how widespread it is. Catharsis messages frequently appear in plays, films, television programs, radio programs, magazines, and newspapers.

You can even buy products to vent your anger. For example, the “Tension Shooter” is a wood gun that shoots up to six rubber bands per round at targets that can be personally labeled (e.g., Boss, Mother-in-Law). Another product is “Wham-It,” an inflatable punching bag. Products such as these are based on the hydraulic model of anger. The companies that make them count on customers who believe that venting anger against inanimate objects is safe, healthy, and effective. If there were no such customers, such products would not exist.

The concept of catharsis even infiltrates everyday language. In the English language, a pressure cooker is often used as a metaphor for anger. (A pressure cooker is a pot used to cook food under pressure, which reduces cooking time. The pot has a locking lid and valve that can be used to reduce pressure.) People are like pressure cookers, and their anger is like the fluid inside the cooker. As the anger increases, the fluid rises. People talk about anger “welling up inside” a person. If people are very angry, their “blood boils” or they reach the “boiling point.” If the anger becomes too intense, people “explode,” or “blow up.” To prevent the explosion, people are encouraged to “vent their anger,” “blow off steam,” “let it out,” and “get it off their chest.”


How To Stop Worrying All The Time

Trying to silence the anxiety in your head is harder than it sounds. When you allow yourself to become overwhelmed by "what ifs," it can seem easy to lose site of reality and be impossible to calm down. Thankfully there ways to figure out how to stop worrying before you allow your thoughts to get out of control. Because while it's true that everyone worries, having constant obsessive, anxious thoughts is emotionally and physically detrimental to anyone.

"Chronic worrying (at its worst) can lead to mental health and physical health complications as we know that there is a mind-body connection. One of the ways to combat chronic worrying is to seek out a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders utilizing such interventions as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for anxiety," says psychologist Kim Chronister, PsyD in an interview with Bustle over email.

Having this type of chronic anxiety all the time can feel a lot like losing control, and this feeling is uncomfortable at best and extremely damaging at worst. By learning to accept that you can't control every aspect of your life, you will probably find yourself feeling more at peace with reality. If you're the type of person who worries about the possibility of something happening when you have no proof that it even will, then these tips below will hopefully make you leave the stress at the door and take control over your happiness again. And also remember you never have to do anything alone. If you feel overwhelmed to a point that's beyond what you can handle, feel free to visit MentalHealth.gov to find some experts in your area that might be able to help.

1. Engage In Mindfulness

If you feel that you're starting to obsessively worry about something, take a moment to breathe and acknowledge your surroundings. "Mindfulness involves being completely immersed in a moment (being totally present). Easy ways to become more mindful include taking mindful walks, mindful showers, meditating, or listening to music mindfully. It is about noticing your worry thoughts and allowing them to drift away in the moment so that you can bring your attention back to your mindful walk, moment of meditation, mindful shower etc," says Chronister.

2. Embrace Uncertainty

When you worry, you're stressing over the possibility of something going wrong. Rather than worrying about the uncertainty of a situation, embrace it. According to WebMD, Robert L. Leahy, PhD, said, "When you accept uncertainty, you don't have to worry anymore. Acceptance means noticing that uncertainty exists and letting go and focusing on the things that you can control, enjoy, or appreciate."

3. Challenge Your Dichotomous Thinking

Rather than seeing the extreme of things, remove yourself from limited choices by trying to view the world with a little bit more flexibility. "All or nothing, black or white thinking is known as dichotomous thinking. 'No one at work likes me' or 'I'll never be successful' are examples of all-or-nothing thinking patterns. Challenge these thoughts by writing down a more realistic version (a version more in the middle and not so extreme) such as 'There are people who like me' or 'I am on my way to success,'" says Chronister.

4. Reframe Negative Self-Talk

"Negative self-talk must be reframed into positive self-talk in order to combat worry. Journaling or working with a workbook is helpful in this case," says Chronister. Essentially, if you wouldn't communicate these negative thoughts to a friend, why do you need to say them to yourself? Love yourself by getting rid of these negative, worrying thoughts.

5. Challenge Irrational Beliefs

Sometimes you worry more than you should over a situation that hasn't even happened yet. Instead of letting this fear control your mind, switch it up by thinking of something else. "When we worry, we often catastrophize a situation. We automatically go to the worst case scenario which can be highly irrational. Challenge those beliefs when they come up regularly," says Chronister

6. Eat Healthy

If you're not choosing the right foods to eat, your brain is not going to function the way you want it to. According to Psychology Today, Dr. Deborah Khoshaba, PsyD, said, "Eating nutrient-deficient foods, not getting enough carbohydrates, protein or fat in your diet, or not eating enough can fluctuate blood-sugar levels that trigger anxiety."

7. Incorporate Relaxation Techniques

To help prevent your brain from over-worrying, try to include relaxation tricks in your daily routine. "Current research states that the goal is between 4 to 6 breaths per minute, and that everyone’s “ideal” relaxation response is activated at different breathing frequencies," says Brieanna Scolaro, LMSW, on her website. How do you begin? "Start by practicing 5-10 minutes a day, gradually building up to 15-20 minute sessions each day over time. You can even set reminders on your phone or tablet’s calendar to help you remember. With just 4-5 breaths, you will instantaneously feel the difference, such as your heart rate and anxiety decreasing," says Scolaro.

8. Write Your Worries Down

According to The Huffington Post, a 2011 study in Science found that if you write your worries down before a big test, it could help decrease your anxiety. While some of you may not be in school anymore, this technique could work for anyone who chronically worries all the time.

9. Focus On Something You Can Control

Sometimes worrying occurs when you feel like you can't control the issue and you don't know what the outcome will be. But rather stressing out what you can't do, focus on something you can control at that moment. According to Psychology Today, people tend to worry about a situation to try to find a loophole to their problem, but by doing that, they're actually causing more stress for themselves. Put your energy into something you can manage, like exercising or cleaning your house. Essentially, anything where you're allowing yourself to make decisions.

10. Practice Questioning Your Thoughts

"Just like how you practice for everything else in your life, teaching your mind to worry less can become a habit," says Dr. Robert Reiner PhD, Executive Director of Behavioral Associates over the phone with Bustle. Try to train your brain like any other muscle in your body by practicing worrying less every day and it will help build your condition behavior to become stronger.

11. Pretend You're Relaxed

Even when you're not really feeling calm, you can trick your brain into believing it is. "Anxiety is reinforced when you're behaviorally protecting it (i.e. you get white-knuckled when you're afraid to fly). Instead, pretending to relax forces your emotional system to calm down. This is called fixed role play. The more you do it, the more relaxed you will feel," says Dr. Reiner.

Don't let your worries get the best of you. Your much happier without them. Trust me.



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