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Don’t throw away this gift or I will hate you forever! (Two case studies)

by respaced on June 27, 2011

Recently, I worked with a few clients who struggled mightily with making a decision about what to do with items that were a “gift” from someone. What made it tough was that the gift-giver made it clear the “gift” must never be discarded. One client I spoke to said the gift-giver actually asks about all of the gifts she has given and expects to see them out on display when she visits. Another client I worked with said the gifts were actually old mementos from when the client’s spouse was a baby, and that her mother-in-law specifically called ahead and demanded that the items not be tossed when the professional organizer (me) came over.

I could go on and on about why these clients should feel the right to do what they want with gifts once they receive them, how these gifts are used to manipulate them by these treacherous gift-givers, and why they should stand up for the right to space in their own home.

But the bottomline is, these clients were not willing to part with these items, because they were not ready to make that step. And you know what? That’s okay in my book. Organization happens in layers, and we were only just beginning to attack the first layer. Maybe in a year or so, we will start to work on a deeper layer and those clients will be ready to part with those items then.

In the meantime, I worked with each of my clients to box up those so-called “gifts” and store the boxes in an accessible place so the gifts could be put on display whenever the clients were afraid their manipulative gift-givers might show up. This set my clients at ease, because they were staying in the gift-givers’ good graces by hanging on to the gifts, yet they did not have to live with the unwanted gifts being on display and reminding them of the gift-giver.

I decided to post these two case studies on my blog because I want you to know that getting organized does not have to mean pushing past your comfort zone and leaving you with anxiety and regret. It should never involve working with a professional organizer, who forces you to discard things you are not ready to discard. Instead, it should be about making your space more comfortable and functional for where you are right now, not where the organizer thinks you should be.

It’s your house, you have to live in it, so you get the authority to decide what stays and what goes.

Beware of Storm Troopers and manipulative relatives bearing gifts. Image courtesy of Pasukaru76 @ Flickr.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous August 25, 2011 at 2:32 am

"It's your house, you have to live in it, so you get the authority to decide what stays and what goes."

Wow. I don't know why such a simple statement is hitting me so profoundly, but I am simply amazed. Thank you. I'm going to be thinking about this for a while.


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