I was talking on the phone with a client from a few years ago. He told me that he'd been going through some difficult times. Five of his friends had died over the past two months. His girlfriend was very sick. He was feeling overwhelmed and confessed that he'd started gathering clutter around himself again. He was feeling badly that he had let that happen.
I said that it wasn't his fault. His heart was hurting from the loss in his life and he wanted to stop the pain. Clutter acts as an insulator. Its presence numbs us from our feelings. The main problem is that the numbing only works for so long, and soon the clutter itself becomes a source of pain.
I encouraged him to begin the letting go process again. I said it wasn't about getting rid of all of it in one big sweep, but starting the clutter bust would make him feel better right away. I said he may feel some resistance because he'd been relying on the clutter to protect him from the pain. But when we numb ourselves from pain, we also become numb to good feelings. If he approached his things one item at a time, working gently, he would feel himself opening up again in a safe way.