020: Conversation with Terry Shulman on Clutter, Accumulating, & Compulsive Spending & August 18th Reading: “More”

In this Episode:

Note: This podcast is close to an hour, so it’s longer than usual! But I promise you, it is worth listening to if you struggle with too much stuff and can’t bring yourself to let it go!

I’m very excited about today’s podcast. It came about because I was asked to talk about clutter, hoarding, and accumulating as it relates to compulsive spending. It seems like this topic has appeared all around me lately! It then became clear that the attachment to stuff and the extreme discomfort around letting it go was as much an addiction as the acquiring for some of us.

After doing some research, it struck me that there is no need to reinvent the wheel when I can speak to the expert on the nexus of these challenges! So I invited Terry Shulman, Founder/Director of The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending & Hoarding to talk with me. He is a compelling advocate for sanity around “stuff,” and his passion and knowledge made for a fascinating discussion.

While I put in a few time-stamps below to give you a sense of what we discussed, I urge you to listen to the whole conversation, as it is full of insights, connections, and helpful suggestions.

01:00 I introduce Terry and talk about why I am having him on the show.
Among other things, I read some comments from my blog Getting Out from Going Under (Scroll down after you click the link to see the thread). This reader presents the problem in an eloquent, poignant, and heartfelt way that really hits home.

08:20 Conversation with Terrence Shulman
Terry starts by giving his background and talks about his practice around shoplifting and company theft and how that led him to further specialize in hoarding and compulsive spending.

14:00 Here’s where we get into the topic of clutter and “stuff,” and all that goes along with it.

30:14 About creative hoarders: arts, crafts, and DIYer’s and tool hoarders.

33:27 We start talking about the solution (including a section about letting go of books at 36:00).

36:28 Why compulsive spenders must be cautious about what hobbies we take on.

37:59 Overcoming the paralysis – how to begin managing the “stuff” in your life.

46:06 Terry’s final thoughts on our consumerist culture and how our stuff has taken over our lives, and ways we can begin to turn that around.

49:20 Daily Reader for Compulsive Debtors and Spenders: August 18th: “More”

Memorable quotes from the conversation:

  • It’s not just the problem of accumulating, but the extreme difficulty in letting it go when it no longer serves you.
  • While not all hoarders are shopaholics and not all shopaholics are hoarders, for both of them, stuff can be like a drug … whether we are buying it or holding on to it.
  • When you have a lot of stuff, not only does it fill up your space, it fills up your mind.
  • More and more, people are finding that no matter how much stuff they have, they feel increasingly empty.

Pictures to Prove My Point

EUREKA! A clean desk has emerged from the rubble. I don’t know why it felt like climbing Mt. Everest to get this desk cleaned off.


Links to Resources Mentioned in the Podcast

Here are other episodes relating to my KonMari decluttering journey

The Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft, Spending, and Hoarding

Cluttered Lives, Empty Souls by Terrence Shulman

The Burning House

Brain Pickings: on The Burning House

MessiesAnonymous groups


Marie Kondo (my personal guru when it comes to decluttering! And also where you can find the book, “Spark Joy” that Terry Mentions)

Music Attribution

“Life of Riley” (Intro and Outro), “Carpe Diem,” “Teller of Tales,” “Ultralounge,” “Floating Cities,” “Fretless,” and “Dispersion Relation” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License

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