When Things Get in the Way of What Really Matters

Sometimes we get entranced by the idea of things. As a concept, they excite us. We want them around us to continue that feeling that we are experiencing. The feeling can be represented by books, DVDs, pictures, situations, clothing, people or anything we are collecting around us. When I say collecting, I mean they are in our environment, but they aren't being used, we aren't interacting with them.

I've seen this especially when I've come across clients who have a large library of books that they aren't actually reading. They like the feeling of having the books in their living space. But upon questioning, it turns out their presence makes them feel uncomfortable. I worked with a client this past weekend on her bookshelves. She stood in front of her collection of books and she looked weary. I took all the books out of the book shelves and put them on the floor. I held up one at a time and asked if she wanted to read it or could we let it go. She surprised herself by letting 80% go. She felt good about the ones she kept.

Here's an insightful email I got from someone that delves more into this:

"I am an avid and eclectic reader. To save cluttering my life with books I only read once, I get most of my reading materials from the local library. What I really, really got clear about today is often I will check out books that have caught my interest only to realize a week or two later that I have no real desire to read them. Perhaps in a version of that magical thinking we all engage in from time to time, I even thought just holding the book in my hand would impart its wisdom into my brain and soul without having to do the real work of reading!"

"But today I took a good look at my shelf of checked out books and realized how much clutter they represented. (At one time I had 27 books checked out from the library). I got deeply in touch with how my feeling that I "ought" to be reading them was actually getting in the way of other more urgent, personal, creative projects that I really want to and need to work on right now. The library books were in fact first degree psychological clutter. Perhaps I was using all that "work" to read those books as a way of avoiding what is right in front of me, but which brings up fear, or at the very least uncertainty and nervousness."

"I will continue to check out books from the library, but now with much more discernment as to their real value in my life. Thank you again for accelerating this process of discovery through your book."