When I started my organizing company, I thought my sole responsibility would be to help people better manage their physical stuff.
I listened to their challenges, found out their goals and put solutions in place to make their life easier.
One day, I consoled a client while she cried on my shoulder. As her tears flowed, I realized people’s stuff comes attached with a lot of emotion. People often view their things as an extension of who they are. They feel as if they will lose their identity and security along with their stuff.
I soon realized my role was not only to help people with the mechanics of getting organized, but to also offer counseling when they feel pain as they part with their belongings.
This pain of letting go can be very strong, even though the person knows they will never use the item again.
During one of my recent seminars, a woman raised her hand and said, “I know you are going to think this is silly, but I cried when I got rid of wallpaper and paint that sat in our basement for years.”
The audience chuckled. They were a bit confused as to why getting rid of wallpaper and paint would make someone cry.
I asked her, “What room did you decorate using the wallpaper and paint?” She replied, “The nursery.” The mood changed in the room, because everyone now had a clear picture as to why getting rid of wallpaper and paint could make someone cry.
These items represented a meaningful time in her life that she can never get back. In a small way, getting rid of the paint and wallpaper felt like letting go of her baby.
Since it has been years since the woman cried over the paint and wallpaper, I asked, “I’m guessing during that same time you let go of other items that were difficult to part with. How are you feeling today about getting rid of all of those things so many years ago?”
She then gave the audience a gift by saying, “Although it was hard at the time, letting go of all that stuff was incredibly freeing. My life is much happier without excess stuff in my way.”
These are the kind of experiences I see every day in my work. People have a hard time letting go of their possessions, even though they no longer serve a purpose. They feel real pain and often cry as we work together.
Once the items are gone, they have a new canvas before them. They begin to focus on what makes them happy in this stage of life their life. The pain begins to fade and is replaced with ex-citement. This is why the woman was able to smile as she replied, “Letting go of that stuff was freeing.”
As you organize your home, you will donate perfectly good items that bring back a flood of memories. Let your tears flow. Remember why you started organizing the room. Stay focused on your organizing goal. When you feel a sense of freedom, you will also look back and wonder why you cried over the silliest of things.
Lori Firsdon will teach an organizing class on Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Kettering-Moraine Library at 3496 Far Hills Ave. It’s titled “Attack the Stack: Organizing Your Paperwork.” For information, call the library at (937) 463-2665.
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