Acting from a Quieter Place

Sometimes we hang onto things for unknown reasons. This is the case when we know we don't need the stuff, but we can't let the things go. This situation creates a feeling of anguish. We want to be able to do something but can't. It makes us feel powerless. We think, "I should be able to do this." But thinking that doesn't help. The situation makes people give up. That's a hard place to be in.

I worked with a client whose basement was filled with many boxes that she hadn't looked in for years. The room was so full that it was difficult to walk around. She looked tiny in the room under the influence of the boxes. Clutter often makes people cower in their own homes. Their stuff is intimidating to them.

I brought in some trash bags and started asking her about the things in the boxes. She had resistance to letting things go. She felt badly because she knew that this situation wasn't serving her, but she couldn't make herself let these things go. I said, "It's not about making yourself do it. The resistance is normal. You've been living with this stuff for a long time. It's become a habit. When something's a habit, our brain is wired to maintain it. There are neuronal pathways in our brain that say, "Keep doing this". I know people who smoked and hated it, but couldn't stop smoking because their brain couldn't stop the signal that said 'smoke!' What helps is to feel the big uncomfortableness while we do this. It's kind of like if you had a headache. You can't make it go away right away, but you can still do things. The need to hang on is the big headache. It's not going away. But while it's there, I can ask you questions about things, and we can see what kind of answers you give."

I asked her again about some items in one of the boxes. She was more open to consider what I was asking her about. She had some reasoning room in her mind. A little resistance showed up. I asked her some more gentle questions. She agreed to let some things go. I asked her more questions. She agreed to let more things go. It started to feel automatic for her. It was like she was answering questions from a quiet part of her mind that was unaffected by her conditioning. I noticed that she was enjoying working from this place.