Insider Tips with Brooks Palmer, Part 1

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For this portion of our Insider Tips series I’m happy to introduce you to Clutter Buster Brooks Palmer. Brooks takes a unique approach to helping people clear their clutter and is the author of Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What’s Holding You Back and Clutter Busting Your Life: Clearing Physical and Emotional Clutter to Reconnect with Yourself and Others.

Tracy: What has been your own biggest personal clutter challenge?

Brooks: I think that probably writing the book and being out and talking about my own life in my books and blogs. I’m a pretty private person so to have to be open to other people, I’m just not used to it. I end up thinking about how people look at me and respond to me. I don’t think it really matters to other people because when you talk about other people, it’s distant from you, it’s like you’re reading about somebody else. To talk about your own life, I think there’s a lot of vulnerability in that, and having that wanting to protect that aspect of myself. But there’s really no need to protect anything. It’s been an interesting experience.

Tracy: In your books you talk a lot about how a person’s gut reaction to an item gives the best clue as to whether that item belongs in the home or if it’s time to let it go. But we’re often out of tune with these feelings, making excuses instead. In your books you give several exercises to help people let themselves observe their true emotions and reactions in a non-judgmental way – is there one exercise that comes to mind that’s your favorite?

Brooks: I think as you’re going thru asking questions about things, it’s that feeling of uncomfortableness, or thinking “oh maybe I’ll just put this away till later”, it’s really a discombobulated feeling that comes up. As opposed to if you if you found something in the fridge and it’s all covered in mold, you can’t really say much about why you need to keep it. It’s finding that thing that brings up so many different emotions. It’s coming back to that, and resisting letting that go because it turbulent, it’s hard to look at those feelings, you just want to put it away and leave it there. That’s why I talk about it a lot, noticing those really uncomfortable reactions, and the wanting to either escape them or defend them that is a big red flag. It’s training ourselves to notice the uncomfortableness because we have a lot of distractions in our life to NOT notice that. If you have enough distractions, it’s like, if you get drunk enough you won’t feel bad. It’s pretty much like that. You have enumerable items that are distractions and it’s easy to forget about things that are bothering you.

Tracy: Just bringing that awareness to what’s really going on in the body?

Brooks: Yeah and a lot of forgiveness in the process, it’s like, all right, I’m not going to be perfect at this, I’m probably going to miss some things, there’s going to be some stuff where I go “this is just too much I’m just going to leave it there”, it’s going to happen. So the last thing you want to do is get down on yourself for not doing it right. I just encourage people to start, start with three things, that’s great, you can come back to it later. I try to take the need to be perfect out of this as much as possible.

Tracy: Do you find that those clients who experience the most initial resistance often find the greatest relief when they finally acknowledge these reactions and let go of stuff?

Brooks: When they do acknowledge that or it clicks for them and there’s this understanding, “oh I see what’s happening” it’s quite profound. When I work with people I’ll take them thru it, even if they don’t want to go thru it. And I’m very nice about it, I’ll just say, “can we take a look at this again?” I just try to take it from as many different angles, again in a really kind way, so that they don’t feel like their feelings aren’t being acknowledged or they’re being judged or they feel like they are doing something wrong. Eventually after awhile it’s like “yeah you’re right, I don’t need this, yes it’s making me uncomfortable”, and it’s good for them to decide that rather than me tell they have to do something.

Stay tuned for next week and part two of my interview with Brooks!

Holistic Professional Organizer and Clutter Coach at Synergy Organizing, LLC

©Synergy Organizing 2012

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