My client was embarrassed to show me "the control center" in her home. She called it, "A nightmare." She looked down and felt ashamed as she showed me her home office. The space was the right side of the laundry room. There was a desk underneath a mound of paper. There were boxes on top of each other on the floor, stuffed with miscellaneous papers. All the available shelf spaces were crammed with papers, office supplies, books, and other various things.
I felt like she thought I was going to chastise her for the state of the place. I said, "This is pretty normal. I've worked in a lot of people's home offices that are inundated with stuff. It's usually the room they feel most overwhelmed in, so I think having all the stuff acts as a kind of insulator or protection from the outside world. But as you probably know, it's a lot harder getting things done with all the obstacles."
She said, "Oh, my God, I don't get anything done!"
I sat down on the floor with her and we started going through things. I had her go through stacks of old business cards, newspaper and magazine articles, old bills, and hand written notes. She was amazed at how much of it she didn't need. Most of it went into the recycling trash bag.
She told me she felt badly that she had let things get to their cluttered state. I think she was used to feeling inadequate. I asked her some questions about her life and it turns out she grew up hearing that a lot from her mom. Her mom ended up making most of her decisions for her. She got married and her husband took over the job from her mom.
I said, "You are very powerful. But you got used to diminishing yourself to make others happy. That sometimes happens to powerful people. Those around them get scared of their strength and try and dominate them. You learned from a young age to be small to make your mom okay with you. That's probably why you hold yourself back with the clutter in this room and in other rooms in your home. It saps you of your strength and makes you tiny. But it doesn't help those who you are trying appease. It hurts you and them. You don't look good with shackles. They don't suit you. I think you would like being big. It would make you happy. It doesn't matter that you lived small for as long as you did. I think you know that you can't live that way anymore though. It's too uncomfortable. It feels better to be free."
She said, "I really want to start enjoying my life. I have a lot of things I want to do." Her voice sounded stronger. It was exciting to see her coming back to life. I think the best thing a person can have is self-reliance. It seems my job is to motivate and encourage people so they can take back their life. Once they get their innate self-confidence back, they can take really good care of their lives.