I was shopping for a coat yesterday when the salesperson asked me what I do. When I told her I help people let go of clutter, she shrank. It discombobulated her. Her voice got trembly and she said, "Oh my God, I'm such a pack rat!" I said that was a harsh way of looking at it. I said we're bred to get things and not let go.
She was still feeling badly for herself and said, "I'm in a constant battle with my stuff. It's so bad. I don't know. I mean I'm just a pack rat."
I said living under the influence of clutter makes us crazy. We think we're doing something wrong. But clutter is like radioactivity, it seeps in and wrecks havoc. The difficult part is we see this, but our need to hang onto things cancels out the normal reflex to discard something if it's causing us pain. So we end up living with the turmoil this produces.
I told the salesperson, "Nothing's wrong with you. It's normal to be overwhelmed when you're living with lots of things that you don't care for anymore. It can help to see that you're feeling panicked. That's often the culprit. It's like you've come upon a crazy dog and if you run it gets crazier and chases after you. It helps to slow down. 'I'm going to take one step at a time.' Suddenly you can think more clearly and you can figure a way out."