At a recent workshop, one of the participants was talking about a project that she was hanging onto that had been halted because of lawsuit. The lawsuit was eight years ago. There was residual anger in her voice and demeanor. She was angry over what had happened. She wanted the project to be completed, but the lawsuit prevented it from happening.
I asked if she was okay about letting go of the project. She was resistant. She was holding onto her initial hopeful and excited feelings of when she originally started the project. Things had changed, but she was unwilling to adjust to the changes. She looked so weary as she was trying to defend her need to keep this thing. It made her look hollow. I pointed out the effect that the holding on was having on her. It was hard for her to open up and see her exhaustion. By doing that, she would have to let go of her original hopes and excitement for the project from before the lawsuit.
We can hang onto something because of the feeling we want from it, even though doing so causes us tremendous pain. I once worked with a client whose boyfriend beat her. When I asked if she would like to let of the relationship, she went into a daze and talked about the times he was loving to her. She was telling me what she wanted, and blurred out the things she didn't want. This is part of how we operate. We have the capacity to see the things we want to see, and be blind to the things that cause us pain. It's a natural reaction. We're built to avoid pain. But this way of living causes us more pain because the thing that is bothering us doesn't go away. It's just hidden. That's often how we deal with clutter.
I explained this way of functioning to the person at the workshop. She started to see how this way of living was having a destructive effect on her. It helped that I wasn't blaming her for her actions. I didn't see it as her fault. She had been under the influence of the clutter. I presented an outsider's viewpoint of what had been happening to her. It helps to see what is actually happening. We can color it so many ways in our minds that it can appear to us to be so different than it actually is. But even being aware of doing that helps. It begins to lessen the effect.
As she saw what she had been doing, she looked relieved and tired. To live under the thumb of clutter drains us of our natural resources. When we let the clutter go, we might feel tired. But that's the body and mind feeling the effects of living the old way. When we see this, we can nurture ourselves so we start to feel good again.