I was working with a mother and her daughter last weekend. I was helping the daughter let go of the clothes in her over-stuffed closet. The daughter was doing a great job until the mother came in and began questioning her daughter's decisions. The daughter said, "I don't wear this shirt, I'll let it go." Her mother got defensive and said, "Oh, well, are you sure? I mean it's a nice shirt and it cost a lot of money. Are you sure? I think you should give it another chance." The daughter said, "Mom, I never wear it!" The mother looked away from her daughter and said, "You should hang onto it. I mean it's really nice. Let's leave it in the closet." The mother took the shirt from her daughter and put it on a hanger and hung it back in the closet. The daughter got frustrated and wanted to stop the clutter busting.
I could feel the mother's attachment to the shirt. She wasn't accepting her daughter's decision. She felt her daughter keeping the shirt was the only choice. This created a division between the connection of the mother and the daughter which made them both unhappy.
It was clear the daughter didn't care for the shirt. It was like she took a bite of food and said, "No, I don't like the taste of this." The mother had a strong reaction to her daughter and said, "No, you have to eat this." That's what the attachment to clutter does to us. It makes us live in a way that doesn't suit us or those close to us.
The mind uses rationalization to come up with reasons for us to hang onto clutter even in the midst of the discomfort it causes. And it believes those reasons. We can look at our own lives and see how we defend something that's no longer a part of our lives. It's as if an unconscious deep part of our emotions comes in and sweeps our clarity away. We are taken over by the compulsion to save something that isn't helpful for us.
I said to the mother that if she likes the shirt so much, perhaps she could put it in her own closet. She was in a power trance and didn't hear me at first and said, "What?" I said, "Since you like it so much, you can put it in your closet." She was quiet and seemed to be considering what I said. Sometimes what goes on between family members is loaded with control and brings up a strong feeling of conflict. Simple discussions can be loaded with with this undercurrent. I got the sense that the mother was coming back to the actual moment and was seeing what was happening. She agreed to let the shirt go. She let her daughter go on making her own decisions.