A client has been in touch lately and we have been thinking about the courage it takes to start a decluttering process. Her partner lovingly pulls her leg. Her friends want to help but end up giving advice and saying ‘helpful’ things that are ultimately upsetting. She bit the bullet and called me – now what?
There are some things I can do to help.
The first thing is to try to find out a bit about you – your strengths, what your inner toddler wants to happen, what strategies you already use successfully, how much time you have, and so on.
The next thing is to clarify that not everything will change all at once. Some places will not change at all. Some places will change eventually but are not a priority just now, so for the time being they won’t change.
Then, it may be helpful to think about ‘front of house’ and ‘back stage’, in terms of how you move about your home. If you live entirely in one room, this is less obvious, but in other circumstances knowing that you can leave undies on the floor, half drunk coffee cups, overflowing ashtrays, passionate loveletters… whatever. You can decide that there are places you don’t want the declutterer to go, and personal things you don’t want to share with them. Everyone needs a bit of privacy, and respite from the decluttering work effort – this is extremely important.
It may also be helpful to decide about access for various individuals – it’s OK for certain places to be off limits to your friends while you are going through decluttering work. That may be helpful to them too, because they don’t want to read on your corns and it would helpful to know where, by and large, to put their feet.
Setting interpersonal boundaries clearly can help some of the anxiety and sense of unpredictability that cluttered environments can bring about.
And, last but not least, we all need thinking space. It takes time to come up with solutions that truly address the problems you are having. Be patient with yourself. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even a little bit better, is better.