Today I worked with a client in the guest room of her home. She seemed to get tinier when we went in the room. Clutter makes people timid. Imagine cowering in a space in your own home. That's what this stuff does.
There were a number of dog pee stains on the carpet. There was stuff piled on the bed and the dresser. Then she showed me the contents of the closet and she got even tinier. Her voice got quiet and she said that the clothes and the boxes in the closet belonged to her parents who had passed away. She said she couldn't make herself go in the closet and get rid of her parent's things. Then she said she was angry at her brother who brought the stuff from her parent's home to her home. She was overwhelmed with sadness and anger and she couldn't move, and on top of it she felt badly that she couldn't do anything about the clutter situation. She'd been stuck this way for a number of years. She said, "Why do I have to keep all this?"
So I got out the trash bags, opened a big one and set it on the bed, and then stepped into the closet. The hardest part about clutter busting is starting. That's why when I work with a client, I leap right in. I came out with four coats on hangers. I asked her matter-of-factly, "What about these, can we let them go?" Because she didn't have to consider the entire contents of the closet, and they became just coats on hangers, she put them in a charity bag.
I went back into the closet and brought out a box of photos. I handed her one album at a time. She looked through them and said things like, "These photos don't interest me." "No one's going to want to see these." "I can't stand this person anymore." "Why's there so much investment put in photos?" She kept about ten that made her smile and dumped the rest in the trash. When we're overwhelmed by our clutter, we shut down. But by taking small bites, it becomes doable.
My client said that she went through her mom's things after she passed away and she said the experience put her through hell. Her mom's things were neat and organized, but there was sooo much of it, and most of it meant nothing to my client or the rest of the family. My client was sad that her mom died and she hated the experience of having to go through and take care of her mom's multitude of things on top of it. She said, "It frightened me. I will never do this to my children!"
Nine big bags later we'd cleaned out the closet and the stuff on the bed.. She was amazed she was able to do it. She said she planned to tear up all the carpet in the room. Then she wanted to make this room into her and her husband's new bedroom. She liked the roominess and the sunshine.