“You picked HIM!” That’s what a therapist said to me as I was licking my wounds from a failed relationship when I was in my twenties. My reply, “No, I didn’t!” Then I went on to explain that HE approached me and that some kind of chemistry enveloped me. I couldn’t escape. I was caught in the magical web of attraction.

Now more than 40 years later I finally got it—what the therapist was trying to tell me. I did choose HIM. I chose to write his name on my dance card, and then I chose to dance with him until he decided to dance with someone else. He left me. I was left holding the detritus of a fantasy.

I writhed in the grief of abandonment and victimhood for a good long while…actually too long. I claimed my victimhood, made depression my best friend and shrouded myself with self-protection. As much as I wanted another relationship, I wasn’t going to let this scenario happen again. The sad thing is that it happened several more times.

And why was I seeking a relationship anyway? I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was operating under the false premise that if I had a relationship I would be complete. It was the tangible proof I was lovable—a necessary notch in my self-esteem. Without it who was I?

Are You Really Taking Responsibility?

Taking responsibility is not an easy thing to do, especially if you’ve been ignoring its role in your life or worse—thinking you’ve been taking responsibility all along when, in fact, you haven’t been.

This notion started coming clear to me just a few years ago. The story begins in 2005, when I started a new career as a Tarot card reader. As destiny would have it, I quickly met and became friends with a Tarot entrepreneur in my area. I was hungry to learn. She offered classes, workshops with renowned Tarot experts and opportunities to read at Tarot parties. Why wouldn’t I befriend her?

About a year later, she suggested we teach a class together using Tarot cards and essential oils to unlock blocks to prosperity. It was a cool idea and since I teach and create classes, I was in. As we developed the class I started noticing her sidelining my ideas. She named the class, wrote the marketing materials and developed the agenda. My job was to say yes and carry out the role she had slotted for me.

Sacrificing Integrity

That insidious feeling of “being controlled” started inserting itself into my psyche. I expressed my concerns, but timidly because I felt beholden to her for all those opportunities previously mentioned that she appeared to offer. Ah, the classic case of sacrificing your integrity in order to get something you believe you can’t get on your own. I saw her as my doorway to new people, experiences and business. Arguing with her that my ideas merited attention wasn’t going to work. I couldn’t jeopardize the relationship if I wanted to get more of the “goodies” she offered.

I am not proud to admit this. On the other hand, this friendship did give me many opportunities to learn more about who I am and how I choose to live my life. We had a friendship for at least nine years and during that time I learned a lot, not only about Tarot but about myself. The control factor, however, became intolerable. I found I didn’t trust her. I didn’t want to share my thoughts and feelings with her. I wanted her to go away. Eventually I went away.

Two years later I learned about the Emotional Freedom Technique, known as EFT or tapping. Because I kept stewing about this relationship, I decided to tap on it. (For those who don’t know about tapping, check out www.thetappingsolution.com.) I held no expectations that anything would happen when I started the tapping protocol.

Midway through lightning struck—a moment of blinding clarity came through. I saw my complicity in this relationship in a way I had never acknowledged before. It was visceral. I had to admit that once again I had written a name on my dance card and chosen to dance with that person. I had been feeling victimized and controlled when I was just as much a player as she. I had agreed to the tacit contract we both signed.

Here’s the Secret

Feeling like a victim takes time and energy. It can suck you dry. I spent an inordinate amount of time perseverating over the shards of this friendship gone awry, resenting her, feeling hurt and, yes, struggling with its loss. The moment I learned of my complicity in that tapping session was the moment I freed myself from those painful emotions. I could move on. I could take responsibility. I could claim my power again. I could independently blaze my own trail in the Tarot world.

Gregg Braden in his book The Spontaneous Healing of Belief, Shattering the Paradigm of False Limits (Hay House, 2008), underscores the point I am making:

“The fact that someone else did what they hadn’t been able to do themselves plays right into their subconscious beliefs of limitation.

When this happens, people tend to look to someone or something else to intervene where they feel powerless. They’re looking for a savior, whether it’s a drug or another person performing a miraculous healing. If we’re convinced that we’re powerless and dependent upon something beyond ourselves in order to have the experience, then we’ll also feel the need to return to that “something” again and again to get what we need. We will, that is, until we realize that we can do for ourselves what is being done by someone else for us. It’s at this point that the savior is no longer needed and we’re truly healed.”

In both cases with the boyfriend and the Tarot entrepreneur, I was seeking completion outside myself. I handed my power to them and deemed them my savior. These may seem like easily reached conclusions, but they’ve taken years to solidify in my mind. I can now pick them up, look them in the eye and claim responsibility for how things unfolded and turned out.

One of my clients was stuck in her clutter. It wouldn’t move, or more precisely, she felt paralyzed by it…until she decided to register for my class “Consciously Clearing Clutter.” She knew she needed help. Once she accepted the fact she needed assistance, things started happening:

  • She altered the boundaries between her and her husband. Initially he couldn’t understand why she needed to take a class to help her with her clutter and discouraged her from doing so. Now he applauds her decision.
  • She cleared the clutter from her home office. Before the class it was a room she shuttered to enter. Now she feels energized and eager to work there.
  • She felt hopeless before taking the class. She kept telling herself she was a failure. Now she sees the results of her initial efforts and is committed to keep going. Failure is not an option.

You’ve heard this story before, but what happened? Why the change? Some will say it’s serendipity; her need and the class converged at the right and perfect time. Yes, I agree, but before that could happen she reached a critical point. I suspect her thinking went like this: “Things are so bad. I’ll never get out of this hole alone. If I want to clear my clutter, I’ve got to approach this differently. Since I don’t know how, I’ve got to get some fresh ideas.”

Looking at the Shadow

‘Resistance’ is a dirty word when we’re confronted with an issue we believe we need to overcome but seemingly cannot. My client couldn’t address her clutter. Resistance blocked her way. Every time, I suspect, she felt resistance, she beat herself emotionally and issued repeated “Stop Work” orders.

Her resistance, however, served a purpose. It kept her from addressing the issue until she was ready. It was highly unlikely any substantive work could have been done until she was ready to confront it squarely. At first blush, clutter seems like such a straightforward commodity to address, yet anyone who organizes and de-clutters without investigating its deeper issues will probably be mystified by its inevitable recurrence.

In her book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers shadow expert Debbie Ford wrote, “Most of us are driven by the eight-year old within us. That child who didn’t get his needs met is begging for acceptance.” Ford goes on to say that if we delve into our memory as far back as possible, we’ll remember the trigger for a particular unmet need. Because it is so far in the past, we are more likely to remember it with compassion and better able to identify the origin of its power.

“If we don’t shift our perceptions of our true selves,” Ford asserts, “we’ll be stuck repeating our past behaviors.” My client began my class seeing herself as a failure and ashamed of not being able to clear her clutter independently. By the third class her self-perception had shifted. She had completed class assignments, shared her victories with work colleagues, and recreated greater balance with her husband. More importantly, she was committed to continuing the process. She wanted to deal with her clutter once and for all.

Shifting Out of Resistance

Ford claims we can tell what work is left unfinished by identifying our sub-personalities. Sounds psychotherapeutic and probably is, but stay with me for a moment. Ford believes you can find out what you need to do to resolve any recurring patterns of behavior (e.g. habitual clutter).

She suggests you get quiet and go within. Call forth any person in your subconscious (i.e. unresolved relationships, lovers, family, friends, heroes and spiritual leaders) and let that person appear. You can access anyone you know by going within. Start a dialogue with him. Ask advice on what to do about a particular issue. Listen to what that person has to say. Give him time to respond. You’ll get the answers you are looking for.

These so-called sub-personalities await your call. They want attention and acceptance, and if you give them that, they will return it with love and compassion. Ford writes, “If you befriend yourself, you’ll break the continuing cycle of loss of self or loss of others…By reclaiming everything you hate about yourself, you open up a world within where you have access to the entire universe.”

Embracing Acceptance

Here’s the exciting news: By embracing a seemingly insurmountable situation, you position yourself for personal transformation. You gain an awareness of self you didn’t have before. You not only discover but release powerful energy, knowledge and resources you never knew you had. All that pain was simply a catalyst to move you to a higher spiritual plane, where freedom, happiness and calm reside.

When you find yourself being resistant, acknowledge and honor your feelings. They are real and deserve attention, but when you are ready, seek to accept whatever situation you confront. Look for its blessings because that will lead you to a better place—to your own personal transformation. You’ll discover acceptance is a mighty motivator.

Bev Hitchins © 2012

For the past six years I have been reading my clients’ Tarot cards to plum the deeper reasons for their clutter. The pictures on the cards allow us to peek into our subconscious. We hold a boatload of thoughts and feelings in that space. Not all of them are loving, supportive or useful for moving ahead in life. In fact, they can be downright subversive.

If we can catch a glimpse of what we are holding in our subconscious, we can begin to understand how we sabotage ourselves. All of us have dreams of one sort or another, and yet many of us can’t realize them. Nebulous fears, regrets, and resentments hold us back. We repress them so adeptly that we’ve convinced ourselves we’ve dealt with them completely. The cards let us know we haven’t and that more work needs to be done if we are going to free ourselves from our self-imposed shackles.

A Real Life Example

I have created a Tarot spread to explore the subconscious reasons for clutter. Below is a subset of that spread. Each position in the spread has a question or issue attached to it. After a client shuffles the entire deck, she chooses a card for each position. It’s important to note, all the cards are face down when the cards are picked.

Many believe it’s chance as to which cards are picked. I believe it’s the Law of Attraction at work. Otherwise, why would they be spot-on, as seen below? I recently read the cards for a woman who underwent back surgery more than 10 years ago. A couple of years ago something went wrong. Ever since she suffers chronic back pain and cannot sit for more than two hours at a time. We looked at her clutter issue through the cards using the Rider-Waite deck.

Position 1: Why Does She Have Clutter?

When we turned the first card over, my eyes shot open! She picked the Ten 0f Swords. The card shows a man lying on his stomach with ten swords in his back. It’s no coincidence that swords are piercing her back, rather than another part of her body.

A complex card, the Ten of Swords indicates the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new one. To step over the threshold into the new, my client needs to liberate herself from old patterns of behavior and drop her emotional baggage. She wouldn’t have picked this card if she wasn’t ready to do the necessary work to cross the threshold at this time.

Swords represent thoughts. After years of living with her pain those thoughts have etched a deep fissure into her self-image. Holding onto label clutter, she may see herself as a disabled victim unable to fulfill her life’s purpose. All the while this is happening, resentment may be building on the subconscious level. My client thought she had dealt with these issues, but the cards indicate more work needs to be done.

Position 2: The Current State of Her Clutter

She picked the Knight of Wands for this position. This Knight is full of energy and passion, and so is my client. She admitted a strong desire to move beyond her clutter, but how to do that is her challenge.

In this card, the handsome knight rides a cantering horse. Applying this image to my client, you would think she is ready at a moment’s notice to do her necessary de-cluttering work. But, wait a minute! The Knight is charging left and I interpret that as making a beeline to her past, not her future.

What if she were to slow down and get more comfortable with where she is? It sounds ironic knowing she wants to move beyond her clutter. Yet, getting peaceful, grounded and quiet right where she is will more likely allow her to turn right than rushing like the Knight of Wands to the left.

Position 3: What Blocks Her from Clearing Her Clutter?

Once again the swords have re-emerged. This time she picked the Nine of Swords. Not as physically brutal as the Ten, this card depicts mental and emotional agony. Key words often ascribed to it include “guilt,” “worry,” and “overwhelmed by feelings.” Clearly a lot of painful, burdensome thoughts, like blame, worry or doubts, have occupied my client’s thinking.

The good news is that the number Nine indicates action. Even though this card appears in the “blockage” position, my client is ready to explore why she has these thoughts. Doing that may then catapult her to dig out their root cause. She’s on the verge of making a change and wants to at least straddle the threshold.

Position 4: Her Strategy for Clearing Her Clutter

Wouldn’t you know—the Death card appeared. Don’t gasp or gulp. This is very good news because it means change and transformation. Death appears as a skeleton knight. Wow! Another knight on a horse, but this time the horse faces right and has one leg lifted to indicate stepping forward. For my client, this could mean stepping out of her clutter and into the future.

At first my client wasn’t happy when she saw the card. Granted, a skeleton isn’t cheery. I assured her that by letting go of the past (what the skeleton represents), she could begin to embrace the present. Her well-ingrained, but damaging thinking has her stuck, but if she sees it for what it is—an illusion, this will enable her to move forward, albeit reluctantly. Not knowing what lies ahead is scary, but taking one step and then another will gradually erase the fear and shift her focus to new and exciting enterprises.

Position 5: Her Next Step to Clear Her Clutter

The final card was the Nine of Pentacles. A beautifully dressed woman is surrounded by a grape vineyard and nine pentacles. In this case, pentacles represent her body and the foundation of her physical being. What a sharp contrast to the Ten of Swords in the first position. Here a self-confident woman is standing with a hooded falcon perched on her left hand. The hooded falcon represents her ability to control her feelings and demonstrate that she is not ruled by her unconscious doubts and fears.

The card’s message is for my client to start seeing herself as the Nine of Pentacles—healthy, enjoying life’s finer pleasures, and knowing she is in control of her life. This takes discipline. After years of thinking otherwise, it may take her awhile to embrace this new line of thought and self-perception. The good news is that her thinking is something she can control. What a great way to start this transformative process. It costs nothing but discipline and time.

My Concluding Remarks

Before we started, my client thought the cards wouldn’t reveal anything of great merit. She didn’t expect them to strike at her core issues like they did. By her picking the two nines (Swords and Pentacles), the one ten (Swords) and the Death card, she got confirmation that she is ready to change. Had she picked ones or twos in the same suits, the cards would have reflected a longer journey to get to where she wants to go.

Even though some of the cards aren’t happy, they hit the mark. She can see where she is in her de-cluttering process and readjust her compass. Of course, she doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to, but that’s not likely in this case.

If you are feeling stuck in your clutter or any other issue for that matter, you might want to get reading with me.  I offer readings on the phone and in person, if you’re close to Northern Virginia.  On the phone you’ll need a deck because you’ll be the one picking your own cards.  Readings last an hour and cost $85.00.  Check out ALIGN’s website for more information.   The cards are a useful tool and can help you navigate the vicissitudes of life if you let them.

Clutter evokes emotion! When I become aware of my clutter, a litany of thoughts swirls around in my head. They’re faintly conscious, probably because I have heard them all so many times before. Here are a few: “I may need that food processor!” “Suzi gave me that scarf!” “Mother wrote those recipes!” “When I need that electric drill, I’ll save money!” “I know that illustration my uncle painted is worth a lot!”

My immediate response to these disparate thoughts is something like, “Yea, yea, yea! So what?” Then I go into “Ignore Mode” and turn to something I think is more important, like writing this blog. I am certain this chronic behavioral pattern keeps me stuck to my clutter.

I’ve discovered there’s more to my stuckness than I initially thought. A whole subconscious subtext is playing 24/7, and I didn’t even know it. It’s not just what I am consciously thinking that impacts my life, but what my subconscious is thinking, too. In The Power of the Subconscious Mind (Reward Books, 2000), Joseph Murphy writes about the dual nature of the mind:

“A wonderful way to begin getting to know the two functions of your mind is to think of it as a garden. You are the gardener. You are planting seeds of thought in your subconscious mind all day long. Much of the time you are not even aware of doing so, because the seeds are based on habitual thinking. As you sow in your subconscious mind, so shall you reap in your body and environment…If you sow thorns, will you gather grapes? If you sow thistles, will you harvest figs?”

No wonder it’s been so difficult to release my stuff–not just physical, tangible stuff but mental tirades and emotional flagellations, too. While I’ve been sowing clutter-clutching thoughts and rationales for years and expecting a clutter-less life in return, I never seemed to get as far as I would have liked.

Now more aware, I’ve been searching for ways to wrestle these self-sabotaging, often subconscious thoughts to the ground.  I’ve found two techniques to share–writing with your non-dominant hand and a Hawaiian clearing method called Self I-Dentity Ho’oponopono. I’ll give a quick summary of both along with links so you can explore them on your own time.

Writing with Your Non-Dominant Hand

A friend of mind introduced me to Lucia Cappachione’s The Power of the Other Hand, A Course in Channeling the Inner Wisdom of Your Right Brain, two years ago. Wow! I got excited when I read Lucia’s compelling argument with the non-dominant hand. By slowing your thinking and unlocking the secrets hidden in your right brain, you can get creative solutions to questions you’ve been asking yourself for a long time. I have practiced writing with my left (non-dominant) hand many times and always discover a soothing, compassionate voice I rarely let myself hear. Consider exploring your blocks to clutter clearing using this technique. I bet you’ll get an understanding you haven’t had before.

Self I-Dentity Ho’oponopono

Double-Triple Wow! I stumbled upon this technique when I ordered Nightingale-Conant’s The Missing Secret by Joe Vitale. This Hawaiian technique helps to heal your subconscious, simply by saying the following four sentences, “I love you. Please forgive me. Thank you. I’m sorry.” Before you jettison this idea out the window, because it sounds unbelievable, consider this:  Hawaiian psychotherapist Dr. Ihealeakala Hew Len healed an entire ward of ciminally insane patients by simply reviewing their files and stating these sentences over and over again. He never saw them or worked with them face-to-face.

I believe the reservoir of our subconscious is one reason why we can’t seem to clear our clutter.  This clearing method is a great way to pierce it.  For more information: check out Nightingale-Conant.  Also, consider reading Joe Vitale’s and Ihaleakala Hew Len’s zerolimits, The Secret Hawaiian System for Wealth, Health, Peace & More (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2007).

When clutter clearing seems impossible and you feel you’ve hit a roadblock, I encourage you to start writing with your non-dominant hand to shine a light on what lies under your clutter. And, if inspired, take time to investigate the Self I-Dentity Ho’oponopono clearing method. I’ve used it many times and found it shifted my perspective quickly.