I was working with a man who had four stacks of unopened mail and miscellaneous papers on his couch. Each was over a foot high. There was no room to sit on the couch. It looked like the letters and papers had come to visit him and had refused to leave.
I suggested we start with the letters. He made a face of great displeasure and said no. He turned his back and started walking to another area of his apartment. He said, "Let's work in my office instead." I said, "You have unwanted guests sitting on your sofa. It looks like if you ignore them they don't leave." He stopped and turned around.
I said, "These are intruders. They are wrecking havoc on your home. They spoil your peace of mind just like old food in the refrigerator ruins the fresh food. I can tell you don't want to go through them. But if we took the time to take a look through the letters and papers, I think you'll feel much better."
He thought about it for a few seconds. He said, "Alright."
I took the stacks of letters and papers off the sofa. I offered him a seat on the couch. I wanted him to know that he comes first in his home. I could see the vulnerability in his eyes. Kindness was being reintroduced into his life.
I brought out trash bags for recycling and I brought out his shredder. I picked up a letter, I opened it and took out the papers. I handed them to him and said, "What about this, do you need this or can we let it go?" I did this for each item on the couch. Some of the papers needed action. I had him take the action, whether it meant calling someone, making a payment, or filing the paper. He paid most of his bills online, so I had him contact the places he did that with and tell them he no longer wanted paper copies.
At first he went at a sluggish pace. He had a habit of resistance that was in place. But after about 20 minutes he began picking up the pace. Soon he didn't need me prompting him on each piece of paper. If he began to look tired, I had him drink some water, or eat a snack. I also encouraged him by recognizing how good of a job he was doing. I noticed that clients really like to be encouraged and complimented. I think they don't get it from themselves and are really hungry.
In a couple of hours the paper guests were taken care of. He looked relieved. I said, "You've taken back your space. This if your home again. In the future, when anything comes into your home, you are in charge. You decide what goes where. This allows you to maintain the good feeling you are having right now. The most important thing is you feel good anywhere in your home."