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Thursday, May 22, 2014


I was sorting several large boxes of health and beauty aids with a client last week.  The items had been stored in a non-climate controlled garage for years and much of it had expired before 2007.  As we moved through the boxes tossing bottle after bottle and tube after tube,
my client looked at me at one point and said "it just makes me sick to think of all the money I spent on that just to throw it away."  I can totally understand.  Those trash bags represented thousands of dollars spent.  Many never opened and never used.  Then I remembered a term from my college days that I thought may help this particular client going forward: sense memory.

Truth be told, I majored in Acting in college.  Sense memory is an idea used in actor training by recalling a particular event or circumstance that evokes a strong feeling in order to have that feeling again.  Think the sadness when your childhood dog died in order to convey feelings of sadness in a different situation.  So how does this apply to organizing?  I asked my client to take a mental and physical inventory of how she was feeling.  Really take stock of all the feelings connected to the moment.  Guilt. Anger. Shame. Nausea. Whatever.  Once we had taken that moment I told her to recall that sense memory the next time she reached for the phone to buy something from a home shopping network or filled her basket with make up and beauty supplies at the pharmacy.  Truth be told, many chronically disorganized people have no impulse control that slows then down.  Each client is different and the organizing tactics that work for them are as varied as the face creams in the garbage bag I hauled out of there that day.  But given the emotional connection this client feels to "things" I am hoping we can use this tactic going forward. 

How about you feel an emotional connection to items and a sense of loss when you part with them?  Do you have tips on how to deal with this loss moving foward?

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982/

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