One of my favorite things about clutter busting in LA is after working with a client I go hiking. It's a great way for me to let go of the job. I like what I do but sometimes the stress from helping someone unravel sticks to me. So I go walking under the super bright sun they have out here and let the tensions evaporate.
Yesterday's client had a lot of self-help books in piles in her bedroom. She was in anguish about what to do with them. She would buy one, begin reading it, start feeling badly about herself, and then stop reading the books. She kept telling herself that she should go back to reading them because of all the "valuable" things in them that she wanted to do for herself. But then she wouldn't read the books and she felt this made her wrong.
I had her hold one of the books and asked her if she would buy this book today is she was at Barnes and Noble. She made a wincing face. Her shoulders hunched up. She said, "I don't know." I said, "It sounds like you're not interested in actually reading the book." She opened the book and said, "But there's all this great stuff in here." I said, "Maybe, but you're not reading it...and you seem frustrated and discouraged."
We talked a little more about it. She revealed that she has an addiction to trying to be perfect. She was very hard on herself on a consistent basis. The books fueled her mind with ideals of how she should be. She would compare herself with the ideals and feel terrible that she didn't measure up. It wasn't the books fault. The clutter was her habit of looking for ways to diminish herself.
I told her it would be more valuable for her to notice when she gets down on herself and question her thoughts. "That's an interesting thought. Wow, it's so loud. It sounds like some Judge sitting up high behind his big desk pounding the gavel. I'm not so sure it's all that accurate. Maybe I'm actually okay as I am."
We can have had a particular negative belief about ourselves most of our lives. The thoughts that support the belief are an intimate experience because we hear it from within, and it's in our own voice. This makes it hard to notice and question it. But since we are starting to question what suits and supports us in our lives and what doesn't, we can start to be aware of beliefs about ourselves that make our lives a harder and more difficult experience. This awareness can create a breathing space that can help us not be swayed emotionally so much anymore.
My client was sobered by seeing what was going on. She decided to donate the books.