I've been talking a lot this week about noticing how a thing makes us feel in the moment. Not how it used to make us feel, or how we want it to feel, or how it makes others feel. But how does the presence of the item, person, or activity effect us now.
When I get to a client's home, I often find them embroiled in their things. There's mental strife over what's in their environment. I figure there's a conflict between the hopes, memories and expectations they have about their stuff, and how their stuff is actually making them feel.
I worked with one client who felt nauseous about the stuff in her home office. She said it literally made her out feel out of balance when she walked in her home. She was a very powerful business woman, but she became a jittery shell standing in front of the the stack of boxes against the wall in her office.
The outer boxes were filled with easy-to-toss clutter. But the boxes underneath were the source of her turmoil. They contained class notes, papers, books, and other memorabilia from when she was getting her MBA. She felt that she needed to keep these things and was very uncomfortable considering letting them go. I could feel her reverence for her school stuff. I sensed her identity was grounded in that time of her life, and questioning them took away her sense of stability.
I asked if she ever referred to what was in these boxes since she graduated eight years previously. She surprised herself by saying she hadn't. I said perhaps her time at school taught her how to uncover and use her natural inherent business talents. Those books and papers were like the fuel that got her business rocket into space, and since they did their job, they could fall away. Keeping the school stuff around had become a hindrance and liability to her because it was creating instability. It was like the piles of papers were causing an earthquake in her office.
Thinking about this stuff from an honest perspective broke the spell. She decided to let the school stuff go.