I was speaking on the phone with a potential client. She told me she was stuck in a difficult clutter situation. Her home office was taken over by stacks of undealt with papers. She said when she approached the papers, she felt she needed to tackle them all in one sitting. She'd end up getting overwhelmed pretty quickly and give up and feel like she failed. It was frustrating to her because she'd mounted many offensives on the paper clutter and wasn't getting anywhere.
I said it's going to take a different approach. We don't deal well with too much on our plates. We do well in pieces. We function better when there is one or a few things to consider at a time. Because we are in pain from the clutter, we want to take care of all of it at once. But again we shut down when there's too much to consider.
It helps to know that a little bit goes a long way. We approach a small amount at a time. When I sit with a client, I only give them one thing to question. It becomes simple, and easy, and they do it. Then they move on to the next item. This gentler process keeps us focused in the moment. With this healthier approach, something positive and productive can actually happen.
The woman on the phone told me she was feeling better already. That burdensome part of her that felt it all had to be done at once was fading. When we see what doesn't work and what hurts us, we lessen the tendency to use it. Deep down we're looking for ways and permission to be more gentle with ourselves.