Knowing What's Important

Today I worked with someone whose office was in his home. He had a work station on his kitchen table and excess work stuff ended up on his family's dining room table. But the main bulk of his business stuff was in the basement. Down there were four towering filing cabinets, papers on top of the cabinets, and full boxes of stuff occupying a lot of the floor space. The space felt dark and murky.

He worked as a clutter buster for businesses. But I could feel his resistance to letting go. He was tough and defensive. As I started asking him questions, he said that I can be kind of an asshole.

So I thought I would appeal to his clutter busting nature. I asked what he would say if he was the clutter buster and this situation was his client. He said, "I'd say my client doesn't know what's important in his life." I could feel him open up when he said this. I asked him to make decisions by asking himself, "Is this important to me or not?"

This openness gave him a strong focus and helped him let go of four HUGE trash bags of paper, and one of the filing cabinet towers.

Another interesting thing happened while we were working together. He told me that he had a problem with control. He said that he got upset when his wife watched TV. He thought it was a waste of time and felt she should read and do more productive things instead. I know from being a clutter buster for a long time that there's always something deeper under the surface that what the clients tell me is the problem. I asked him some more questions and he revealed that he didn't like the noise from the TV.

I said that his reaction made sense because he was so overwhelmed from the "noise" of living with his clutter, that anything else in addition was too much for him. When we are overwhelmed, little things can set us off. In the moment it can seem like the little thing is the cause. But when we step back, we can see the bigger picture.

I said that spouses often get upset at their partner for their clutter. But that never fixes anything. It actually creates tension in the relationship. The answer is to look towards our own lives and see where we have similar clutter. We can do something about our own stuff. My client got it. It brought the focus back to himself.