Developing a New Habit

My client said his desire to hold on to things that weren't serving him felt superstitious. He was talking about papers in his filing cabinet. He said he knew he didn't need certain papers, but a part of him felt that if he let them go, something bad would happen. He didn't even know what that bad thing could possibly be.

When he clutter busted on his own, he would hit this fear wall, and give up. He felt badly that he hadn't been able to do this on his own. He wondered why his mind worked this way.

I said that particular superstitious way of clutter busting was an old habit. It's how he used to try and do it. There was no need to feel badly about himself. Sometimes we develop ways of doing things that work against us. But this is a new moment. It's new because we see that our old way of doing things isn't working.

I suggested we try a new way. I had my client go through each paper in his files individually. I asked him, "Is there an actual need for this piece of paper, or can you let it go?" He came across a paper from an old job, and he was afraid to let it go. He said he worried that he might need to refer to it in his current job. I asked how long he'd had the paper. He said five years. I asked him if he'd referred to it in that time. He said no. He paused and then let it go.

I said a kinder new habit was starting to grow in him.