My client was doing well during the clutter bust until he came upon an artifact from an old girlfriend. It was a sweater given to him by his ex. I could hear the anger and sadness in his voice. He passionately began telling me stories about how she had lied to him. He brought out the gritty details.
I asked my client to stop. I said it was clear that she was no longer a part of his life. I said to dwell on the reasons why wouldn't help him. It would be best for him to admit that he was hurt and to let go of reminders that made him feel the hurt again.
My client agreed and decided to let go of the sweater. We went back to the clutter bust. A few items down the line, my client stopped and began to rant about his ex and the things she had done to him.
I asked my client to stop. I had him put his hands on his heart and close his eyes. I said that he had been hurt in his heart. It was a real and tangible pain that he felt deeply. The betrayals that he spoke of felt like they were happening in this moment. But they were not. His ex was gone. It was now just him and his heart. He was safe. I asked him to fill the wound with the warmth from his hand so that he got a chance to heal. My client cried.
I said that life is hard enough without adding misery. Misery comes from dwelling on a past difficulty with bitterness. It's like the past has come to haunt the present moment. It helps to admit a crappy thing once happened to us and that we are now open to healing.
My client said he could feel the weight of this old relationship lift off his body. It was like sweating off a spiritual flu. He felt freed up inside.