Kindness is one of the chief ingredients of Clutter Busting. Kindness makes you relax. When you relax, your mind and heart become clear. You get an honest view of the clutter situation. It comes easily to you that a particular thing is no longer a part of your life. "Oh, okay, I can see that this is clutter. I'm going to let it go."
The usual method to bring about change is forcefulness and intensity. This works if you have to move a sofa across a room, scrape paint off a wall, or push a stalled car. But it doesn't help a person with a cluttered living space. You can't make yourself clutter bust. You can try, but very little gets done and it makes you not want to do it again.
When I show up at someones home to clutter bust, I am lighthearted. They are often nervous and fearful. I ignore that and find something nice about their home and mention it. I know the state of the place doesn't matter. When I leave, things will be much better. The person will feel happy and carefree. I can see they already are, under the clutter that is temporarily obscuring that part of them. This approach lightens them up. They naturally become kind to themselves.
I was working with someone recently who met me at the door in a frantic state. I could hear her pulse pounding. Her brow was furrowed. She seemed stooped. She was talking at a fast pace with a high pitch. She began by letting me know all the things that were wrong with her home, and she then started chastising herself. It felt like she was trying to beat me to the punch. I didn't say anything. I wasn't going to sing along with her song. This began to diffuse her adrenaline fueled negative momentum.
We took a tour of her place. She pointed out the problem areas, and she told me why she was to blame. She stated her interpretation of her ineptness with a bold emphasis. It felt like a public whipping. I knew she was using this approach to fuel herself up to make the necessary changes in her home. Instead they were making her tired and discouraged. I didn't say anything.
She asked the common question, "Tell me the truth, is this the worst clutter you've ever seen?" I felt like she wanted me to say yes. I said, "No, this isn't bad. You should see some of the places I've worked at. We'll have a good time taking care of this." She paused. I could see her brain trying to reconfigure.
I talked about how nice it was that she got a lot of sunlight in her home. I also commented on how quiet it was. I said she was lucky to have so much space. She thanked me and smiled. She was calmer. I felt she was ready to begin.
Starting this Thursday, I'm going to be in Seattle working with clients, and giving talks about my book, Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back. I'll continue writing this blog when I return next week.