My client tried to prepare me for what was hiding inside of her closet. I could feel the shame coming off of her. I think she thought that when I saw the closet's contents I would criticize and humiliate her.
But I never think my clients are bad people or that they screwed up and should have been better. I know that they are often feeling that. But I'm hoping that my kindly taking a look and asking questions will help alleviate them of their suffering.
I opened the closet. It was a vast and tangled five foot high assemblage of books, magazines, papers, clothes, sports equipment, electronics, kids' art, and other items that she'd randomly placed in the closet for years. She said, "Oh, my God, I'm sorry. I wanted to put shelves in there, but never got around to it. I've never shown this to anybody. I'm sorry. I'm terrible, aren't I?"
I said, "You're not terrible, but I can understand how this bothers you. Let's unravel it so you can feel better."
I think she couldn't fathom my response. She probably couldn't imagine a scenario of her not being wrong in some way. Which is always the most potent form of clutter.
I pulled out one item at a time and asked her if she wanted it anymore or if she could let it go. That always brings people right back into the moment. When we look away from the entirety of the clutter situation and consider one thing at a time, we know what to do. It makes the gooey and sticky guilt and shame slip right off of our hearts and minds.
We went through the entire closet in 45 minutes. Most of the closet's contents went into trash, recycling and donate bags. She was giddy with freedom.