When I first work with a client, I notice they have an aversion to where they live. They feel uncomfortable amidst the things in their space that are no longer a part of their life. Because it's too much for them to take, they have often become unconsciously numb to their home. It's like they had to turn off their awareness of their space in order to be in it.
My job is to gently encourage them to have a new and kinder awareness of their living space.
The new awareness is noticing your home again without the reactive feelings. Rather than, "Oh, my God, this is terrible, I'm a bad person for letting it get this way, what am I going to do?!" I like the "Let's take a look around and see what's here" approach. It's see the job, do the job, stay out of the misery.
It's usually a little hard for the client at first because the reactive and self-blaming part tends to be automatic. But I don't give it attention because it isn't useful. I come back to the matter-of-factness of the space. Not like a robot, but how they would be without the emotionally charged reactive resistance.
For instance, I'll have my client take a look at the things on their kitchen counter. I'll have them pick up the first thing they see. I want them to isolate that one thing from everything else in their space. I'm incorporating their basic awareness. It's a refocus. That lowers the volume on the panicked reactions. It's easy to consider one thing clearly.
Here's an exercise you can do now to help you start to side with that gentle awareness. (Read this through one time, then give it a try). Close your eyes. Focus on your breathing. Let the inhalations and exhalations come and go. Let your focus move towards what you are sitting on. Feel its pressure of the seat against your skin. Notice how the seat holds you. Is it comfortable? If not, can you get comfortable? Do you feel supported? If so, relax into the support. Feel your body being taken care of by this seat. If you can't feel comfortable, don't fight it. Be aware of the discomfort. Either way, it's just you and this seat. It's you and your awareness of this space.
This is the awareness you bring to the clutter bust. You find one area to work in, you pick one item and you hold and and ask, "How does this thing make me feel? Do I love it? Or can I let it go?" It's a private experience between you and this thing. It's a powerful way to take a closer look.