My client was afraid of her desk. She didn't want to go near it.
The desk's surface was covered with layers and piles of papers. There were stacks on the floor around her desk too.
She felt she had done something wrong. I didn't encourage that thought. It would only serve to make her feel badly.
Instead I was curious about a particular cloth bag full of papers and cards sitting on the floor next to the desk. She cringed. It was full of Christmas cards she and her family had received over the years along with the envelopes they came in, plus addresses written on scraps of papers, and various address lists that she had typed with the hopes of trying to make sense of it all. She felt guilty that years had gone by and she hadn't been able to organize the holiday greeting card info into something manageable.
I said it was worth investigating. My experience is it's not the current things that are part of people's lives that are the problem, but the unresolved projects and things from the past that act as roadblocks to a person's life, slowing everything down. They act as jamming signals that disrupt the flow of our lives.
So we went through the cards. There were a lot from people she felt obligated to send cards to, but wasn't feeling so good about it on the level of her heart. I said that's probably what was keeping her from completing this project. When we try and do something that we don't love just to make others happy, we lose our inspiration. It takes a toll on us. By being honest about the harsh effects, we lose our grip on what's keeping is stuck. She got the confidence to let unwanted addresses go.
She was amazed at how good it felt to say no to things that essentially didn't nurture her.
We also picked one of the typed lists of addresses, crossed off the names of people she didn't want to send cards to anymore, and wrote in names of those she wanted to add to the list. She picked up speed. We finished in under an hour. She was jazzed. She decided to give the list to her teenage daughter and have her create a new typed and alphabetized list.
Then we moved on to another stack. We didn't finish today. I'm going back next week to help her complete clutter busting the desk and surrounding areas.