At last weekend's workshop, three women brought papers. One woman brought in a big clear and full plastic tub of paper. Another had three shopping bags of paper. And there was a woman who brought in a big wicker container of papers.
They sat with the papers on their laps and they couldn't do anything. They were overwhelmed and felt badly that things had gotten like they did. Guilt unplugs people. When they say or feel, "I should have taken care of this, I shouldn't have let it get this bad" they lose the energy and creativity to do something about it. I think we're used to years of people saying, "You should have done that," so we end up saying it to ourselves.
"Should" basically means we're wrong. Not the action we took to get in the circumstance. But us. How motivated can you get when you think you're broken?
I like the approach of, "My habit of doing things this way is causing me grief. I'm tired of the repercussions." It's not looking for reasons why things are the way they are. It's compassionate because we care that we're suffering and we want to stop feeling the pain.
So I had them go through one paper at a time and tell me what they found. One of the ladies said, "But there's so much here!" I said that's why we're only looking at one at a time. When they got stuck, I asked them if there was an actual need for that piece of paper or not. When they kept coming back to that it was easy. Most of it ended up going.
One woman came across an old notebook. She kept saying it was so important. I asked her to consider one page of the notebook at a time. Soon she was tearing out a page and moving on to the next page. After about fifteen minutes they could handle the investigation on their own. The lost quality went away, replaced by self-confidence.
That's why I'm always encouraging you to start no matter the situation, because your decision-making abilities start kicking in. They don't get activated until you start using them.