Buried Alive Under Paper

Yesterday's client had large piles of paper all over the floor and furniture of his living room. He was very protective of his clutter hive. His mind told him that everything was important. "I have to keep this." "I need that." "I can't let that go." As a result, he shut down because it was all too much. It was hard to reach him.

I told him he's going to rationalize everything as necessary because of his nature. He was built with a highly creative mind that was intensely curious about everything. At the same time, because there was too much stuff for him to process, his way of doing things was harming him. His life was suffering. His relationship with his partner was in a nose dive. He couldn't find work. He was always anxious. Everyday he came into the living room and saw this giant clutter matrix and he'd lose confidence and sink even deeper into despair.

I asked him what was important. He said getting his feet back on the ground with his work and creativity and relationship.

I said it was of utmost importance to dig hard and deep and see what's essential to him in living the life he wanted, and to see what's secondary that he can part with.

We had to go at slow speed as I repeated the question, "Is this really important to you now, is it part of your life now, is this going to help you, or can you let it go?" He said he was having a hard time and that it was painful. I said that makes sense because he'd lived his whole life thinking that he needs to save everything. But the current pain he feels is no where near the pain of living buried under all the paper.

I encourage him a lot. It felt like he'd been at zero self-esteem for a while. He reminded me of a plant that hadn't been watered in a long time. I sensed that he had been hiding in the clutter because there was a feeling of security in the stuff. The more stuff, the more feeling of protection and insulation from the world.

The encouragement helped with the openness it takes to let go. After about three hours, we had a large garbage bag full of papers which we put in the recycling bin. There's still a lot more to do. We'll see if he asks me back. Maybe it will give him the momentum to keep going on his own, or with me, or someone else.