Yesterday's client described the clutter in her bedroom closet as, "The biggest nightmare on the friggin' planet!" She looked haggard. Sometimes my clients are in a defeated state when I arrive at their homes. The clutter has beaten them down and they live under its hard influence.
I said, "I'm glad you can't stand living this way anymore. It will make you more open to letting the clutter go. Who wants to have a nightmare in their bedroom? Let's take care of this so you can relax again." This point-of-view brightened her up. I think she'd been feeling down about the clutter situation for a while and had gotten used to being in pain. One of the best things you can do for someone is give them encouragement. It's better than hope because it gives a person motivating fuel to make a change.
Her closet was small and densely packed with stuff. There wasn't room to move so I had to reach in and extract things. I pulled out a handful of clothes and shoes and put them on her bed. I had her sit on the bed and I asked her about one piece at a time. Because it had been so hard for her to get into her closet, it had been a long time since she'd seen a lot of these things. She had some distance and ended up saying "toss 'em" to a lot of the items.
I went back in and pulled out a box stuffed with papers. I put the box on the bed. I gave her a small stack of papers at a time. A lot of the papers were old utility bills. She couldn't figure out why she'd kept them, but because she was starting to think more clearly, she tossed them. She said normally she wouldn't have been able to do this. I told that this was creating a clutter awareness in her. It would allow her to notice things as clutter in the future.
We worked for a couple of hours. When we were done she was able to walk into her closet. She couldn't contain her enthusiasm. She was in love with the new space in her life.