A lot of professional organizers share stories of happily organizing their marbles collections, organizing their closets by fabric type or color, arranging their toys and dolls in neat sections on their shelves, and even color-coding their school schedules. It's as if they were born to be professional organizers.
That's not my story and if you're reading this, there's a pretty good chance that's not your story, either.
This was what my bedroom looked like in high school. Did your bedroom resemble mine ... did your home?
What I didn't understand back then was that chaos was ruling my life. And it was being reflected back to me in my personal living space.
When as I got older and a bit neater, it still took me a long time to realize that the non-tangible chaos taking up space in my head was still very much like my high school bedroom. Chaos was in full control of my life. And it didn't matter if that chaos was in my living space or my head - what mattered was that it was negatively impacting the emotional and financial decisions I made in my life. And worse yet, it heavily impacted the depth of connection I had with friends and partners.
It's easy to ignore the stuff you don't want to look at. All that fear, guilt, and shame that's been piling up inside you since childhood is hard to face. The problem with ignoring my stuff is that none of my heavy emotions forgot about me and they won't forget about you either. Just because we ignored them, didn’t mean they went away. Chaos is a lot like a squatter in an abandoned building, it stays longer after it's no longer welcome.
The skills and tools I learned as a professional organizer kicked in when my health took a turn for the worse. I was pretty much bed-ridden for over 5 years. I had plenty of time to focus on how I could fix my life and it started with my living space. The first thing I did was to declutter my wardrobe. Only owning what fit me and I actually liked and wore led me to tackle my entire apartment in the same manner.
As I got rid of more stuff I that wasn't providing positive meaning in my life, I realized that it didn't matter if I started with the chaos on the outside to help me with the chaos on the inside or vice versa. Something had to change. One of the most important lessons I learned throughout the process was that it would have been so much easier to have someone hold space for me and walk me through the process.
There's a saying that we become what we most need in life and I guess I'm no exception to that rule. While at first I felt as though I just accidentally ended up as a professional organizer, it's really because I understand the chaos and the mess. And I know firsthand what waits for us on the other side of that messy middle.
Through many years of practice, I found this 5-step process to work best for people who relate to my high school bedroom chaos.
It's hard to create changes when you're not paying attention. I started by becoming aware of what I had surrounded myself with in my home. While I had the space, it didn't mean everything I owned made me feel like the beautiful, smart, capable person I am.
And, I soon noticed, that some of the relationships I had outside of my home also neglected to make me feel like the beautiful, smart, capable person I am.
I've realized most of the goals I have are attached to emotions. While I may think a well-organized closet is the goal, what I really desire is to walk into my closet, find everything easily and know that not only do I like wearing everything I own, but it fits me well.
The thing about goals is that even if you know what you want, or how you want to feel, it's impossible to achieve a goal unless boundaries are put in place. It's like wanting to lose weight but never changing what you're eating.
Boundaries means making changes. And cutting a few things out of your life. The good news is that the things you're cutting out of your life aren't good for you, don't like you, and are messing up your life.
But that doesn't make creating and sticking to boundaries any easier. Especially when when I'm feeling tired, scared, or vulnerable.
The thing is that we all know what we really want deep down. But the stuff, the people, and the negative emotions we've collected over the years is making it nearly impossible to hear ourselves.
There's so much noise! Decluttering was an essential step so that I could finally hear myself. And when I listened to myself, my true self, things got easier and better. When I don't, they get harder and less manageable.
When I followed the above steps, I realized that the system was actually designed to help me make smarter decisions. And it helps me learn how to make decisions more easily and with more confidence.
Why? Because apparently the average American home has around 300,000 items. Even though I owned far less than that number, there were still more than enough times when I had to use the above steps that ultimately ended with me making a decision about whether to keep or eliminate something.
When it came time to trying the same method on the non-tangible stuff in my life, like relationships, I had had plenty of practice.
Life Is Perfect!
Ha! Not even close. But I've experienced some great changes since I developed my system. I've surrounded myself with people who are kind, loving, and supportive. And I limit my time or walk away from those who make me feel otherwise.
My health has drastically improved and I feel more energetic. And making decisions isn't something that stresses me out any longer. I know my system works.
And that's why I wanted to share my story. Because I know what it feels like to have my life be out of control. To feel as though I'm completely unsupported and to feel exhausted down to the bottom of my soul.
I deserved better and so do you. Are you ready to change your life? Then it's time to get started.