I was helping a client clutter bust when we came across stacks of old record albums hidden in the back corner of a dark closet in his basement. Some of the album covers were moldy. Some of the albums had warped. They smelled musty and dank.
I asked him if he listened to the albums. He gave a quiet, "no." I asked if he had a record player. He said he didn't. I asked if he could let go of the albums. He said he didn't want to. He said, "Can I just keep them even though I don't use them?"
I pointed out that he sounded sad. He sounded like half himself. I said the voice we use to talk about something in our life offers up how we feel about the thing. It demonstrates the effect it's having on us. Our voice and physiology shows us whether this particular thing is strengthening or draining.
I said he sounded like a dejected kid. His voice embodied a pout. I pointed this out to him because he wasn't aware of the effect. When some thing, person or experience adversely effects us, we often don't notice because we're diminished. There's less of us to notice.
He took a look at himself and suddenly became alert. He stood up straight. The color came back to his face. I noticed he was breathing deeper. This meant that he was no longer being hypnotized by the albums. He said, "I think I can let them go." We brought them up to the trash.
It helped that I was there with him to reflect back the diminishing effect the clutter was having on him. If you're working by yourself, you might not readily notice because it could overtake you. So it's worth going in to the clutter bust knowing this may happen. If you are an hour into letting go, and suddenly you come across something and you feel instantly tired, or you get moody, or you think it's a waste of time, those are red flags that something is having a particularly rough effect on you. Being open to this experience can make it easier to let go.