I'm finishing up my clutter busting work and book tour of Southern California today. It's been an amazing two weeks of talking about letting go and working in people's homes to help them facilitate the process.
This past weekend I worked with a client who had piles of paper situated throughout her home. Upon investigation these were collections of things "to do". She would start them and then not finish. This resulted in her ending up being agitated in every room she entered. These "to do" piles were her way of reminding herself, but they didn't translate into action. As a result she was in a constant state of panic. When I asked her about them she got extremely tense, she talked fast and high pitched, and looked off center .
I had her sit on the floor with me. I put a pile of the papers on the ground with us. I had a trash bag next to the papers. I picked up one piece and asked her if she needed it, and if yes could she do something about it now. There was a part of her that got it. She told me what she needed to do with it. And then she slipped out of her coherence and began complaining that she couldn't do this, that it was all too much.
I put the paper down. I said, "It's good that we are hearing you say this out loud. It's solid evidence that you've taken on too many projects. It's your nature to be active and you're good at it. But everyone has a limit and once they go past it, they are no longer effective. That means everything that you are doing will suffer. It infects your relationship with your daughter, and your dog, and your business, your home and most important, yourself."
This sobered her up. She agreed. I asked her again about that piece of paper. She told me the action that needed to be taken on it. I had her do it. She didn't want to at first, but then she did and she was relieved. We continued going through each piece of paper. Half went into the recycling bag. She realized a number of activities that she thought she had wanted to do turned out to not be enticing to her anymore. She dumped those into the bag and out of her life.
The other half of the papers either went into a file or she took the necessary action. By the time we finished she was back. She had a certainty to her that had a natural strength.