I was working on the phone with a new client yesterday who had six big boxes under her desk. She hadn't opened them up and looked for a long while. But they'd been on her mind. She said, "These are the boxes full of stuff that I don't know how to deal with, and the stacks of paper end up there." I could tell this had been frustrating her for a while.
I wanted to make this process easy for her so I avoided asking how this clutter situation happened. I simply had her take out the first box and remove the lid. Then I had her pick out the first item and tell me what she saw. I wanted her to get out of the misery of the situation as a whole, and focus on just one thing. We're much more capable of making a clear decision about one thing.
My client found a bunch of paper clippings that she had once been using to make vision boards. She didn't make vision boards anymore. They didn't inspire her. But she was invested into hanging onto the ingredients for a vision board. She had spent a lot of time finding the pictures and cutting them out. Plus a part of her felt like she should be doing a vision board because it worked for other people. The thing is, she wasn't using this paper. It wasn't important to her.
We sometimes have an ideal about something, and the sound of the ideal makes us feel good. But it either doesn't actually become a part of our life, or we try to actualize this ideal and we find out it doesn't work for us. We get stuck because we don't want to let go of the ideal. I told my client it's important to see what we actually use and enjoy. That's the point of things, that they are useful and actually aid our life. If they don't benefit us, they create traffic jams inside of us. My client had been stuck in a personal gridlock.
She saw how keeping the papers was making her glum. She said, "This stuff is masquerading as the stuff that matters." She didn't like that feeling and she let the papers go.
We went on to the next item in this same simple fashion. As she began to get into flow of letting go, she said, "It's okay to say no to things."