I don’t really consider myself to be an obsessive cleaner. I like things to be reasonably decent, but if the laundry has to wait one more day, I don’t care too much. Despite this, clutter is the one thing that can drive me out of my mind.
The funny thing is, as an INFP personality type, I am the main contributor of the clutter. I collect books and other items all the time. The biggest culprit, though, is knick-knacks. I love them, especially if they are odd or unique. I buy ones that represent me or something I love, and then display them on bookshelves, so every time I see them, I can get a little warm feeling inside.
Then comes the inevitable day when I suddenly realize there is too much. I have been known to pick up something — anything — that is bothering me, and throw it away. Just last night, I abruptly picked up and threw away a large pile of my husband’s socks because they were all over the closet and it had been bothering me for a while (I asked him first, in case you were wondering).
If someone were to witness these habits of mine, I would get ribbed about being a “neat freak.” But I’m really not, and I adore my useless knick-knacks. So why do I sometimes suddenly feel the urge to toss things?
Clutter Gets Too “Noisy” For My Overactive Brain to Handle
Because of my intuitive nature, I think in an abstract and almost otherworldly sense. I jump, not into structured facts, but into limitless wonders and memories. And because of my Feeling component, I place a high value on personal feelings, thoughts, and experiences. So, everything — no matter how small — evokes a mental reaction from me. It could be a thought, an observation, a question, an assessment, or a memory. And when that happens, my brain cannot help but to follow it and see where it leads.
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Sometimes this happens against my will, and I beg my brain to let me focus on whatever it is I’m supposed to be doing. But off my mind goes anyway. I have a notebook and pen sitting near me at work, because whenever there are just too many thoughts, I scribble them down. That way, I can come back to them later, but for the time being, I feel okay ignoring them and getting my work done.
Now, let’s turn back to my beloved knick-knacks. A stranger may visit my home and see some odd statue and say, “Ah, that’s interesting,” and then move on to something else. I, however, see my statue and remember why I liked it, where I got it, and how much it cost. I have a few funny memories of different people reacting to it, and I also remember my own reaction when I first saw it.
Then I start wondering if the statue is in the best place in the room, because everything has to be in just the right spot to suit my idealism. I look around and start imagining how I could rearrange and where other things could go to make room for the statue. Sometimes I do move things. When my husband comes home, it’s not particularly uncommon for me to say, “Take a look, I’ve rearranged again.”
You can see how exhausting all of this is, and only from one inanimate object. If I have a multitude of things sitting around, as I have in the past, it simply gets too noisy in my brain for me to handle it. That’s when I have to get rid of something, though in my overwhelmed frustration, I end up yanking things down just so I can get some peace. As silly as it may seem, the same thing happens even with my husband’s numerous socks. I see a pair and remember the last time I saw him wear them or what we were doing that day, and so on.
A large portion of my life is spent trying to calm the mental stimuli around me. I enjoy my INFP brain and would not change it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t need to find a way to manage it. Otherwise, I would never get anything in the real world done.
Luckily, my husband is also an INFP and is very understanding of my predicament. He is the only one, though. Just about anyone else who knows me does not “get” my outbursts that are caused by being overwhelmed by clutter. And I have a hard time explaining it to others without sounding like I’ve gone too far down the rabbit hole to ever come back.
If you happen to know an INFP, please be patient and know that although we try really hard, we don’t always reside on Earth. And for the times that we do, we have to find some ways — sometimes drastic ways — to make our environment manageable so our mind is not continually shooting off into other worlds.
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