Taking Care of Paper

I was working with a client yesterday, helping her prepare for a move. We were working in her office. She had quite a lot of paper. She had five portable files that were stuffed with paper. There were also stacks of paper unfiled, and two packed filing cabinets. She didn't want to face it.
I set up two chairs and two trash bags. One bag was for trash, the other for shredding. Because there was so much resistance on her part I had to start by talking her through each piece of paper. I would hand her the paper. Her eyes would go blank. She looked like a kid who just got handed a test and she didn't know a single answer on the page. I would say, "What have you got there?" "Is that something you need to save, or can we let it go?" "Do you really need that?" She gave me honest answers, but it took some effort on her part.

About fifteen minutes into it, she held her head in her hands. She said, "This is soooo hard." I said, "You're not alone. Papers are hard for everyone. There's something about them that makes everyone go to sleep inside, and everything comes to a halt. The thing is you could pack all these papers, and bring them with you to your new home, but then they'll be there. They'll be just as much a pain in the ass in your new place. And they'll create the same kind of inertia and air of chaos and ruin your new home. Let's keep going, and it will be hard, but soon...it will be done. And you'll be free."

She kept going. We took a few breaks. As we progressed, she gained her own momentum. It took about four hours. She finished. There were three big bags of paper trash, and two for shredding. She was relieved.