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If an Englisman's Home is his Castle, what is an Englishwoman's Home? - 1st March 2018
Whenever I hear this phrase I think of a castle drawbridge being wound up. The meaning being more or less that the Englishman in question can please himself in his home and what's more it's down to him whom he permits to cross the threshold. This is about personal freedom, and also about security.
I think the concept of a home is quite different for women. Not just Englishwomen, either!
Women are often referred to as 'home-makers' and whilst some might consider that to be sexist and derogatory, it does seem to be the case for most.
No matter what their family set-up, women are more likely than men to be engaged in making their home into a cosy and welcoming space. No matter whether that's to do with decor, furnishings, food, or something less tangible, perhaps.
The concept of nest building
When birds build nests they are creating a home for eggs and chicks. Their sole concern is that it is a warm and 'homely' environment for their offspring to flourish. It needs to be safe from weather and predators alike. Despite looking delicate and flimsy, a nest is a strong construction which is fit for purpose.
Nest building is an activity in which most women are actively engaged. We all know that cushions and candles and fluffy throws are far from essential, and yet when they are present in a room, somehow that room is softer and more comfortable. It's a relaxing place to be, somewhere for people to flourish and grow. So really, it's not so different to what birds are doing.
What has this got to do with clutter?
Well, if you think about these cosy welcoming homes, they seem very desirable, don't they? They supply what it is we all need at some level. The need to switch off from the hurly burly of the outside world, of work stresses, and life challenges. In this way our homes are cosy nests of safety and security. Not in the masculine way of repelling all invaders or pulling up the drawbridge; simply that this space is somewhere we can be ourselves. A place where we are understood and accepted.
This is all good, but sometimes things can go awry.
When nest building goes into overdrive
When a person is engaged in accumulating clutter, or even hoarding, the chances are that they feel under some kind of threat. They are likely experiencing chronic overwhelm, and there may also be past trauma in the mix.
It's no great surprise that someone in this situation needs to feel safe in their own space. This is when the nest building instinct becomes almost hyperactive. Building a protective barrier is an instinctive reaction to danger. This is why any attempt to forcibly remove items will generate yet more trauma. This despite the efforts being well intentioned.
One possible way forward is to tackle things very, very gradually. Try to find one thing a week that can go. Then maybe it could be two things a week. In between times, make sure you are kind to yourself with self-care. Do what you can to nurture yourself. The more self-care you give and receive, the safer you will feel. As you feel safer then you may find less need for some of those things. Little by little the giant nest can be reduced to more manageable proportions and you will feel much better.
I have various ways in which I work with clients. Contact me if you'd like to discuss options and possibilities.
Keywords: clutter, hoarding, safety