The sight of so much stuff in her basement's storage room discombobulated my client. Her "doing" mechanism shut off. She felt badly that this experience had stopped her in the past. We're delicate creatures. When something is too much we crash. That's normal and it makes sense. The problem is when we feel badly that we're overwhelmed, that we should be able to overcome our sensitivity. "I should be able to do this. Why can't I? Something's wrong with me." That's the clutter.
I told my client, "I know this is a lot and it looks pretty bad. But we'll take it step by step and then it'll be done and you'll have this room back. It will be sooo nice to come down here and enjoy this space again." And then I picked up the first object and asked her whether she needed it or not.
When the overwhelm kicks in it's easy to get lost in the letting go. When I've clutter busted for myself, I'll pick up something and think about whether I need it and then three minutes of intense thoughts about it go by and I'm thinking, "Where was I?" That's a pretty good red flag for me that it's a hot item and I'm better of without it. My mind might try and argue otherwise, but I don't consider those arguments because I know from working with clients the negative effects of hanging onto things that don't serve my life.
My client got through the heavy bulk of clutter. The photos are from one spot in the storage room. We cleared out about fifteen bags of stuff. She was very happy with the new space. I suggested she get a colorful throw rug for the gray concrete floor. It could make it feel like more of a room in her home rather than a closet to throw and hide things in.