I did a clutter busting workshop at a church by my house last Saturday. It was a unique event. People brought things they were no longer using and they left them at the church as donations for the church's upcoming rummage sale.
One of the people in attendance said, "I'm a hoarder. I've probably got at least a couple thousand books in my home. I can never get rid of them. I keep bringing more books home. I don't know what to do. Can you tell me how I should approach trying to let go of my books?"
I asked if he'd brought any books for donation to the church. He said that he and his wife brought four boxes of books. I asked him how he was able to let go of these four boxes of books. He said he and his wife looked through the books and found ones they weren't going to read. They packed them in boxes and brought them over to the church. I asked him how it felt. He said it made him feel good. I said, "That sounds like a pretty good approach that works well for you."
He didn't understand. I pointed it out to him that clutter busting is very simple. There are no steps or procedures or systems. It's looking to see what you're not using anymore and letting it go. It's so simple that he didn't even realize he'd done it.
He was still confused. I think it was because he locked himself into the idea that he was a hoarder and that it would be impossible or very painful to try and change. He hadn't noticed what he'd done because it was so simple. That's why I don't like to call people hoarders or use any psychological descriptions. It adds complexity and makes the unraveling difficult.
I said, "Do you have any empty boxes in your home?" He said, "Oh, yes, we have plenty." I suggested he get out two boxes and continue to look for books he's not interested in. "Go through the books in the same way you would look through your fridge for old and spoiled food. Put them in the box and bring them to the church. I'm sure they would appreciate it and you would feel the benefit." I said that if he was still feeling good, he could continue.
He quietly nodded. There was a simple certainty in his eyes. He seemed more peaceful than when he first started asking questions.