When we know that something isn't serving us, but we can't let it go, a deep and hidden part of us is clutching to this thing. Maybe the grip is fueled by fear, sadness or anger. Many anxieties may have come together to make us hold on tight.
But we don't need to know the ingredients behind our reason to hang on. We can recognize their collective force. We can feel the heat it generates in us as if we were near a fire. We can imagine the shape this tension is making in our bodies. We can notice the energy it's taking from us to maintain our grip.
When I work with a client, I look for their unconscious hold on clutter. I notice the strain in their body. I see the toll it's taking. And I ask them to notice too. It's the seeing that allows this tension to unravel. It's what helps clients let go.
I was helping a client with a box of papers in her garage. She didn't want to look. She complained that her head and stomach hurt. She stared down and wouldn't look me in the eyes. I told her that all these symptoms were the physiology of her tight emotional embrace to what was in the box. It wasn't a joyful hold. It was fueled by deep unconscious tensions whose presence brought her no benefits.
I told her I sometimes feel the same way when I go through financial paperwork. The tension makes me not want to do it. But it's more painful for me to live with this stuff undone.
Her recognition of this experience in herself made her open up to taking a look at what was in the box. I encouraged her to go through and consider one piece of paper at a time. She still felt her symptoms, but there was enough of a distance from them that they didn't side track her.