My client Rachel was tormented by her Family Treasures.
Rachel called me because she was at the end of her tether. Her sisters had been dumping everything THEY couldn’t bring themselves to declutter on her. Mainly family heirlooms and photos.
She had always been so willing to help out. She felt responsible for their family’s precious memories and had done her best to look after them.
But now, she, her daughter and her husband were moving to a new city for his work. They were so excited. But their new apartment wasn’t big enough to take everything.
She knew she had no choice but to declutter those family treasures. But she was tormented by the decisions she had to make. She would stop and start, want to throw EVERYTHING out and then would agonise over the smallest thing.
Rachel would do this dance, backwards and forwards, over and over until she just gave up. She was miserable and not getting anywhere. Time was racing past and she was getting desperate!
What she needed was help making decisions. She had some choices to make but couldn’t settle on the big ones (or the small ones.) So we started with the big decisions and the reasons behind her struggle to declutter.
We needed to work out what she really wanted. At first she thought it was just to be free of the things so she could move. Which was true, but we also discovered that the reason she was suffering so much was that she didn’t want to upset her sisters by making a mistake.
She could have chosen to toss the lot! Or pay for storage, which has it’s own problems. She knew no one in her family would take everything. She felt trapped.
Family was deeply important to her. The thought of creating a rift between herself and them filled her with horror. As we uncovered the layers of her fears we connected her feelings of distress to her childhood, their parents and her deepest beliefs about herself.
As soon as Rachel understood why she had been struggling so much with this task and the role she had assigned herself, she was a changed woman. She was still unsure how her family might respond to the changes in her but she felt ready to move forwards.
We decided she needed to share the burden of decision-making. She bravely let her sisters know that she had to declutter the family treasures, and asked them to come and get anything they wanted to keep.
They surprised her! They really didn’t have a choice, she was moving and that was that. They each took something that they loved or were prepared to look after. This freed her from the horror of accidentally decluttering something they might want and feeling responsible for causing pain.
Then we worked through what was left. Rachel was suddenly so much happier. Her burden was so much lighter and we could make practical steps to reduce the amount of things she had to pack.
In the end she reduced her family treasures down to just the things that she knew she would take with her wherever she went, for the rest of her life.
They were hers. They were manageable and she could finally move on to her new life, free and happy.