Today's client was timid in front of the big stack of papers on her dining room table. These were bills, flyers, kids art work, business cards, photos and other various papers she'd been avoiding for months. Up to a few minutes ago she'd been hiding them up in a dining room cabinet. It's amazing to see a person shrink in front of paper. People are so powerful and mighty, and here's this measly pile of inert sheets.
I said that anything that intimidates us in our home needs to be demoted. Our homes are our castles. It's one of the few places we can be royalty. She said, "I don't want to do this." I said, "I know."
I picked up the first sheet and handed it to her. It was a copy of a bill she'd paid online. She reflexively tried to put it back in the pile of papers. I said that way of doing things was just going to make her feel like crap. I said she could shred it. We went to the shredder, she put in the paper and watched it get devoured. She was smiling.
We came back to the pile of papers. She got intimidated again. I said that was natural because it is overwhelming to look at a big pile of papers. I gave her a sheet of paper. I said it's easier to pick up one sheet and consider that rather than the whole pile. It was a drawing her 5 year old daughter made. She sheepishly said, "Am I supposed to keep this?" I said there were no rules. She could decide to keep something if she needed it for her records or it was something she loved. I wanted her to feel the freedom to make a decision. That would give her the power back. She let go of the drawing.
She came back to the pile. She said, "I can't believe I haven't looked at these papers in such a long time." I said, "You're right on schedule." She started to cry. She said that her mom used to chastise her that she was one of those people who are always behind. She had lived with her mom's belief for years. I said sometimes parents panic and tell us something out of anxiousness. They feel it will help push us in the direction of self-improvement. But anything done out of anxiousness breeds more chaos. I said the best thing we can do now is clean up what's in front of us and start fresh.
My client took a deep breath. The cloud she'd been sitting in was gone. She become more matter-of-fact in her inspection of the papers.
Sometimes everything becomes too much and we shut down. It's nice when we can accept that we got overwhelmed. It happens to everyone. We see it through the eyes of kindness rather than criticism. The acceptance helps with the jump start.