Sucker Punched by Clutter

We can get used to being uncomfortable. Clutter builds slowly and we acclimate to the experience of living with things that no longer serve us. We feel unhappy living with the clutter and we may not recognize the clutter as the source of our grief.

This is why I strongly encourage you to look around at the things in your home and life and ask of each thing, "Do I like you, or can I let you go?" When I work with clients, I have to be strongly encouraging because they are used to living with the stagnation. They may even complain about how uncomfortable they are in their home and resist letting things go.

I was working with a client in her closet. She complained that she couldn't think straight when she came into her closet to decide what she was going to wear that day. Her face was constricted and she seemed very irritable.

We took all the pants off the hangers and put them on the floor. There were a lot of pants. Enough for five people. I asked her about the first pair of pants. She said, "Well, you know, these are really good pants, and I haven't worn them in a while, but they're really great." I asked if she could let them go. She said, "But they're really great pants." I said, "And you don't wear them." She said, "Yeah, I know but..." She picked up another pair. I had her put those down and I had her pick up the first pair again.

My client was trying to defend something that was no longer making her happy and was causing her pain every time she came into her closet. I could feel fear in her voice. I think there's a fear of the unknown when we make any change in our life. "What will happen to me?" It's below the thinking level. All we feel is the fear and that supports the resistance. That's why I ask questions so the fear gets light shed on it.

I asked my client if she liked the pants she was wearing. She matter-of-factly said, "Yes." I pointed out how clear and strong she was when she said yes. There was no doubt or fear in her. She came alive. But when she was trying to protect and defend something she no longer wore, she seemed tired and afraid and small. I said every time she comes into the closet, the presence of everything that is no longer a part of her life sucker punches her. I said it's a terrible way to live and she deserves better.

My client sat silently as she pondered this experience. It helps when we clearly see the effect that something is having on us. When we see that something hurts us, we get the incentive to let this thing go. My client let go of these pants. There was a relaxation in her decision. She went from fighting to openness. We went through the rest of the pants with the new way of seeing things and she was able to let go of a majority of her pants. She was left with eight pair of pants that she loved.