Are You Sabotaging Your Own Efforts?
Imagine that you just successfully cleaned out one shelf in one cupboard of your kitchen. Which thought seems most likely to be running through your head?
1. Wow, that looks great!
2. It looks good, but now the rest of the kitchen looks worse.
3. One little shelf? Big deal.
If your choice is #1, then good for you! You are cleared to take the next step in organizing the rest of the kitchen or your home.
But if you chose #2 or #3, then you have some work to do before you take on an organizing project and be successful. Allowing this kind of attitude can sabotage your organizing efforts.
Are you self sabotaging?
Over the years, I have noticed that many people who are struggling with clutter in their homes are also struggling with a negative opinion of themselves.
The first time I encountered this was years ago with an early client. Susan (not her real name) and I had been working away to clear the knee-deep clutter from the floor of her side of the bedroom which she shared with her husband.
We had filled the recycle bin with paper and stuffed a bag with clothes to donate. The floor was cleared and vacuumed. The nightstand was dusted and now only held a lamp, a radio and three books. The difference was unmistakable.
The Effect of Self-Talk…
“No really, doesn’t it look great?!”
“Well, it’s about time I got that organized.”
“Hmm…. Well, does it look good to you?”
“I guess. But now the rest of the bedroom looks worse.”
I thought for awhile, “Susan, can you say something nice about your achievement?”
She looked at me kind of surprised. “Oh, I’m not good at that.”
“Well, if I’d just cleaned that up myself and you talked to me that way, my feelings would be hurt.”
“I wouldn’t say that kind of thing to anyone else. That’s just the way I talk to myself.”
Ahh, I recognized that pattern (because I’ve done it myself). It’s the old “It’s okay to be highly rude to yourself, as long as you never say any such thing to anyone else” belief.
But is that behavior really okay? Let’s consider… If working hard and achieving a goal results in being criticized, why would you want to make any further achievements?
Susan and I talked for quite awhile until Susan came to realize that, by speaking harshly to herself, she had been sabotaging her efforts to organize her home for years.
If we wanted to make lasting progress, we needed to explore ways for Susan to celebrate an achievement with internal praise.
This might sound easy. It may sound so easy, you think you can skip this step and get around to it “when there is something big enough to praise.” But if you skip learning the fundamental skill of internal praise, you are at risk of sabotaging your efforts to organize your home.
Susan and I made practicing self-praise for each accomplishment a regular part of every session. She felt silly and awkward. I assured her that I remembered feeling pretty ridiculous when I took my first steps at learning the skill, but the results were worth it.
The self-praise paid off for Susan, too. Every time I met with her, I saw she had maintained the order in each area we had already organized. Eventually, she forged ahead into new areas on her own. I am proud to say that I worked myself right out of a job!
If you are finding organizing your home challenging, ask yourself, “Am I sabotaging my organizing efforts?”
Learning to celebrate even tiny achievements is a fundamental skill for organizing success. If you feel silly learning to do it, you aren’t alone. But what that feeling means is that you are bucking the internal pattern. You are making progress. So, congratulate yourself on your bravery in experiencing feeling silly and stop sabotaging your organizing efforts!
Need help getting organized?
Contact the Moving Forward team, they’ll help you get the job started or done, and you’ll love it!
**originally published 11/8/2011