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The TV Show "Hoarders" Exposes Our Misplaced Affections

The TV show "Hoarders" features the true stories about people with compulsions so strong that they can't let go of their "stuff." On the show, loved ones, psychologists, and organizational experts are brought in to try to help the hoarders stop hoarding.

For example, one episode focused on a middle aged hoarder named Phyllis. Her house was so cluttered with dolls and other belongings that she had to crawl over mounds of garbage in order to reach the recliner where she eats and sleeps. Phyllis's children were so concerned about her welfare that they threatened to contact Adult Protective Services. But Phyllis's compulsions prevailed, and she chose to live without running water and heat and to huddle under blankets to stay warm.

Another episode told the story about a man who has collected such a large stash of games, action figures, books, and novelties that it's nearly impossible to move through his home. Yet another episode featured an automobile lover who faces $20 million in fines if he doesn't get rid of the hundreds of junked cars on his property.

Most people who watch this show have the same reaction: they can't believe that people just won't let go of all the stuff that's slowly sabotaging important relationships and harming themselves. Unfortunately, most viewers don't see that at times all of us can act like hoarders when it comes to our spiritual lives. For instance, I have a tendency to misplace my affections; to value some things more highly than I ought, to cling to some things that aren't doing me any good—like worry, resentment, gossip, pride, self-righteousness, lust, or anger. The truth is, most of us may not clutter our lives with physical stuff, but we're just as guilty of emotional or spiritual hoarding.

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