Today's phone client's home was in a big disarray and she felt stuck. She was being hard on herself about it. So to remove the guilt, I said it's natural to not know what to do when we're overwhelmed. It helps to accept that this is the way it is, and let's see what we can do about it.
She felt better and was ready to take a look at what was going on in her home. We picked a closet and began going through it. She discovered a large collection of sheets. It was too much and some part of her gave up. So I asked her, "How many sheets do you need?" The light went back on in her. She said, "I never thought to ask that." She thought about it and answered eight. I had her pick her favorite ones. The rest went in a charity bag.
We came across a big box of toiletries. I sensed she was intimidated. So I asked her to go through one item at a time and decide if she needed it or not. That's one of the best questions you can ask yourself. "Do I actually use and like this, or can I let it go?" It helps you get past the emotional hold.
As we went through these items, she told me she came from five generations of clutterers. It was generally accepted that you hang onto everything. She said her mother hung onto her mother's Vaseline from the 1920s, which was then passed on to my client. The Vaseline sat in the closet, unused. So I said it was good to notice living that way tends to make people miserable. Living in a warehouse takes away our peace of mind. She concurred.
We finished up clutter busting the closet. Most of it went into the charity and trash bags. My client was relieved. She said, "I would never have done all of this on my own." I pointed out that I just got her to start and I encouraged her along the way. She made all the decisions. This experience would help prompt her in the future to clutter bust on her own.