My client had two huge stacks of papers on her floor. One of them was so tall it had tipped over and cascaded across the floor. They were study notes for her finals. She had wanted to organize them, but couldn't find the energy to do so. She had given up. They had been there for a while. They were too much for her.
I suggested we start right into the stacks. Her face turned pale and she seemed to have stopped breathing. I said, "It's okay, you can breathe now." She laughed.
She apologized for the papers. I told her there wasn't a need for an apology. I said, "If there's a bad smell in your fridge, you explore and find the food that's rotten and throw it out. The small alerts you to do that. This situation on your floor is asking you to take action. It doesn't think you're a bad person. Actually, it thinks you're quite capable." She felt better.
We got down on the floor and went through the piles one paper at a time. There was a big bag for recycling next to her to encourage her. As we went through the Clutter Busting process she was amazed that a lot of the papers were unnecessary. They were thrown away.
On her other side was a plastic file holder with lots of empty hanging folders. I told her everything that she needs will get a home with a name in the folders. It's important for things that serve us to have a special place in our homes. This allows our minds to not have to think about these things unconsciously all day long. It's like having a separate hard drive for your computer. This frees up the hard drive space in your mind. It gives you peace of mind. She liked this idea and set up a new file each time she found a subject that she needed to save for studying.
The further we went in this Clutter Busting the more self-reliant she became. Her discriminating abilities were turned back on. She was no longer overwhelmed.
When we were done there was a large and full bag of recycling ready to be taken to the trash. She also had all of her notes in easy to read files. She was confident about her ability to pass her finals. She had taken back her space.