This weekend I worked with a woman in the alcove off her garage. It was being used as a clogged storage area by her family. When they came in from the garage they would drop stuff off on the counters, or coat rack, or in drawers. As a result things got lost in there. No one wanted to go in there and clean up.
I started by picking up one item at a time and asking her about its importance. Some of the pieces were winter items and needed to go in other places in the house. A number of items were no longer being used and went into a big charity box. A lot of the stuff had no use and couldn't be donated so it ended up filling an extra big trash bag. There was a coat rack next to the counter that had piles and piles of clutter hanging on it. We went through and took care of all the stuff layered on the rack. Then she revealed that she didn't like the coat rack. She was worried about how her husband would react to her dislike. This kept her from asking him about it. I called him into the room and asked him. He agreed to let it go.
A lot of the stuff piled on the counter was their kids' homework and artwork. She and her husband didn't want to throw it out because it seemed special to them. But there were mixed feelings. On questioning, the items felt important the day the kids brought them home, but then after a couple of days, as new school work came in, the old stuff lost importance. There was a couple of months' worth of school stuff piled on the counter. It was an intimidating clutter mess. I suggested she keep the stuff her kids bring home and put them up on the wall for a day, then replace them the next day with new stuff. She agreed. We tossed most of the kids' papers.
Then she revealed that she was angry that her husband wasn't more responsive about taking care of this area. I said she was probably staying angry about this with the hope that it will affect him and he will change his ways. But this wasn't working at all. I said he'll probably never change. I told her it's better to think that way so her anger will abate and the situation can be taken care of. Plus she won't have the clutter of anger around her all the time. She understood and felt relief. When we take a closer look at our actions and intentions, we often find clutter that is worthwhile letting go.