Adapting to the Changes in Our Lives

Last week I worked with a client who complained about her home office being overwhelmed with paper. I asked to see the other rooms in her home before seeing her office. Sometimes what we think of as the problem is a symptom of something else that is amiss. Clutter Busting is a subtle investigation of a blockage in your life. You're looking for clues.

I was intrigued by a jammed packed closet across the hall from her office. It was filled with dirty laundry. There was a stack of four bags of clothing that needed to be cleaned. We cleared out the laundry. I went into the closet and found a milk crate that was being used as a file holder. It was difficult extricating it out of the space. These were all good clues. Often things that we don't want to examine in our lives we put in inventive hiding places.

I got out the filing folder and put it on a table and we went through it. At the very back of the files was a music file. When she held it in her hands she came to life. She stood taller and there was color in her face and I could tell she was taking longer deeper breaths.

I had her bring the music folder into her office. The office had stacks and boxes of paper in every space. It was difficult to stand in there. From her position of clarity of holding the file, I asked her what she wanted to do with her life. She said, "I want to have a baby and I want to make music." I said, "Are you doing anything with the music?" She looked sad and said no. I asked her what most of the paper in the office is about. She said it was job related. She worked for a museum and I could feel the tiredness and stress in her voice as she described her job.

I said, "When we have clutter in a particular area of our life, it's an embodiment of the fear that we have about changing to a fresh place in our life. We can try and defend the clutter. But you can't hide from the evidence of your resistance. Clutter is not part of the flow of life. It's like having a muscle in your body that is pulled or strained and it negatively affects all the other parts of our body. The more we keep using that muscle, the more pain we experience. You can't thrive and be happy in your life by maintaining these stacks of paper. You want to have a baby and create music. That's where the flow of your life is. Let's go through these papers and let's make decisions about each one: does this piece support what matters to you or can we let it go."

We took a stack at a time. The trash bags filled up pretty fast. By taking an honest and clear look, she saw that most of the paper was unnecessary in her life. As each piece of paper went into the trash bags she got stronger. Her voice had a stronger treble, her posture got straighter, her eyes got brighter. When we were done there was floor space. She could move around the room.

We need the space for greater flexibility in our lives. Space allows vitality to flow into our lives.