I posted recently on Facebook about my struggle with resisting the urge to buy kitchen, bed and bath linens. If I failed to check myself, I could easily not only overbuy, but end up weighted down by an unreasonable collection of these items.
That got me to thinking about why? Why linens? Why am I so attracted to this category of household goods? Why do any of us focus on collecting things?
After some deep thinking on this, I believe that for me, linens represent abundance and security.
We all crave feelings of security. In fact, according to Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs, security is trumped only by actual physiological needs (food, water, air, etc), so it’s little wonder that we work toward increasing our feelings of security by any means that seem to satisfy them.
I think that, for me, buying and having these linens represented control over my financial security. The logic went something like, “Of course I’m financially secure if I can own all these extra things on top of getting my bills paid and putting food in my fridge”. This thought persisted even when the buying of these “frills and furbelows” was actually decreasing my financial position and causing me to stretch to look after my more basic needs. Clearly, my "logic" was flawed.
Of course, not everyone’s reasons for over-collecting are the same. Some folks might be trying to fill a different need – maybe a social need for love, belonging or acceptance, so that they can avoid depression or anxiety. Maybe the need for appreciation and respect, what Mazlow called “Esteem Needs”, is what someone might be trying to fill up.
If you subscribe to Mazlow’s theory, then you will think that our behaviours around this are hard-wired into us. They are perfectly rational behaviours based on our humanity. And they are! It’s only when our buying behaviour become a “need” in and of itself, when we substitute “collecting” for concrete actions on filling our needs with actual control over our lives, with re-kindling or forming new friendships, with getting involved with ventures that prompt real appreciation/respect rather than envy.
You may find yourself in a position where collecting has become a burden, either on your physical space, on your financial well-being or maybe both (plus all the other problems that these things can bring). If so, you might benefit from trying to identify your “why”, then brainstorming some solutions on how to fill your needs sustainably.
I still love linens, though!