Clutter as an Illusion

The other night during my clutter busting talk, a woman in the audience asked, "What do you do with the things that used to belong to someone who passed on? My husband died a few years ago and I just can't seem to get rid of his things."

I said, "What things in particular are you having a hard time with?"

She said, "His clothes. A few months ago, I put a bunch of them in a big bag. The bag broke and they spilled all over the floor. They're still there."

I said, "Well, because they are on the floor, they probably don't mean that much to you."

She said, "But I can't pick them up. I have to keep stepping over them. What do I do?"

I said, "I've worked with a lot of clients whose spouse or family member died and they have a hard time letting go of their stuff. It's kind of like your situation. They don't like the things. But they can't get rid of them. It's never about the things. The things are just stuff purchased in a store. It's about not wanting to throw out your husband. It was sad for you to lose him, right?"

Her eyes were sad. She nodded.

I said, "You miss him. You miss his companionship. You have automatic resistance to letting go of the clothes because you want him to stay, even though he's gone. That's a hard situation to be in. An intuitive part of you knows the clothes aren't him. The sad part of you that no longer wants to feel the pain wants the surrogate him to remain in the form of the clothes. They battled it out, and the clothes won. But even though the clothes are still there, you are still feeling sad. It's not working. You came to this talk to get insight so you could get peace of mind. The peace comes when you let go of the thing that isn't serving you. Knowing this, do you feel like you can let go of the clothes?"

She said, "Yes. I see what I was doing. I want to feel better. I'll donate them to a charity near my home." It felt like she was relieved. Clutter busting is seeing past the illusion that something is a part of our life when it is not.