At the Santa Cruz clutter busting workshop, a participant said she had some things in her home that she was uncertain about. She said she felt some attachment to them, at the same time she didn't know if they were clutter. I asked her to give me a specific example. She spoke of a dining room table that had been given to her by her grandmother. As soon as she mentioned it, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes and winced, and let out a guttural sound. Then her demeanor changed. Her face looked unemotional. The light went out of her eyes. Then she said in a flat tone, "It's probably a good table and I don't want to just give it away."
I pointed out her two reactions. She didn't notice the first one. It sounded to her like I was making it up. The other people in the workshop noticed. I said, "The first reaction was unadulterated. It was your honest feelings about the table. A guttural sound is primal. Uuuughhhh says it all. It bothers you. It makes you feel like uuuggghhhh! But then the attachment to the table took over. It was devoid of any feeling. It was like a robot was saying it. You weren't present. Rationalization can seem like it's true. I'm pointing this out so you can be more aware of how you really feel about the things in your living space."
She said, "I don't know. I mean, I don't know what I feel."
I said, "A lot of us are unconscious of how the things in our homes make us feel. You know you're not happy. You're here at this workshop because you feel the presence of clutter in your home and it makes you uncomfortable. But you're not sure of what's actually clutter. Or you know, but you can't let it go. I'm bringing your initial response to your awareness so you can see its negative effect. It sounded like you were being punched in the stomach. The effect of this thing being in your living space has that painful affect on you every day. You can't live that way anymore. I think you care too much about yourself to live with that abuse. When something hurts us, it no longer has a place in our lives, no matter how we can try and defend it. You deserve to feel good in your home."
She was silent. It felt like she was searching for her actual feelings. There might have been a little battle between her basic feelings, and the desire to shut off those feelings because they are painful. A lot of us are in the habit of covering up our feelings because they can be too much. We get overwhelmed and it's easier to shut down, or look for distractions. I think in the long run that extends the pain and it shows up as basic sadness, anger or depression.
She said that she would let go of the table. Some people in the room offered suggestions like selling it on Craigslist, or donating it to a charity that would come to her place and pick it up. She decided to donate it because it was simpler. She just wanted it out of her place as quickly as possible.