Wait a minute. Isn’t this a column about organizing? You’re probably wondering then, what fear could we be talking about? Well, if you haven’t figured out the answer to that, it’s probably because you are an organized person.
Organizing can be an emotional and fearful proposition for many people, taking different forms. Sometimes a well-intentioned spouse or friend tells the disorganized person that they “should” be able to get organized on their own. This sets off a chain of emotions beginning with guilt and feeling criticized. This is the inner parent voice they are hearing. For some, it causes rebellion, and then the vicious cycle is set in place. The parent-child inner conflict comes to light as spouses fight and the floodgates of emotion open. Organizing doesn’t come naturally to some people. Precipitating events can bring on temporary bouts of disorganization or one may suffer from a lifetime of chronic disorganization. A cluttered environment may be both the cause and the effect of anxiety.
A person recognizing his need to get organized faces the fear of change, the fear of failure, humiliation, embarrassment, shame, frustration, criticism, lack of focus, decisions, the fear of overwhelm, perfectionism and more. What if he tries, yet fails to accomplish his goals? In his eyes, all that effort would be wasted.
These fears are real. They are draining, depressing, de-energizing, cause immobility. People can see themselves in many negative connotations such as packrats, clutter bugs and slobs. For many, they are imitating, knowingly in most cases, what they were surrounded with when growing up. Being surrounded by clutter is familiar, yet it causes discomfort. What they don’t realize is nothing may be wrong with them, it is their systems that are wrong or missing.
In the book, Organizing for the Creative Person, by Dorothy Lemkuhl and Delores Cotter Lamping, C.S.W., different functioning styles are examined and explained. By nature, we all think differently. Being organized is a style, like being left or right-brained, like being more kinetic, tactile, visual or audial. In this book, a brief quiz helps identify your style and provides solutions with organizing techniques that work best for each style.
What needs to take place first, the authors explain, is the change in a person’s decision from “should” to “want” to be more organized. It must be a conscious choice. With choice, one is open to change and many of the aforementioned feelings can be overcome.
Just as one would seek the professional help of a psychologist in many situations, one may seek the assistance of a professional organizer to get organized. A good organizer is trained to be non-judgmental, non-criticizing, supportive and encouraging thus removing the fear factor.
Face the fear of bringing a stranger into your home or office, even though conditions are not as you would like them to be if you were having company. Just as you should not be embarrassed to see a doctor when you are ill, there is no need to feel shame or embarrassment in having an organizer see your clutter. That is what organizers see and do everyday. It is their job. They are not company. That simple action of letting them in sets the ball in motion. Anyone can learn to be more organized. You just need a guide to take you through the journey of facing the fear.
Sophie Bent is a professional organizer and owner of Bent On Organizing, LLC. She can be reached at 561-404 7181 or on the web at www.bentonorganizing.com.