Andrew Mellen will lead Letting Go of Clutter and Chaos. Click HERE to learn more.
By Andrew Mellen
When it comes to organizing, it’s essential to know that you will at times be uncomfortable.
Getting and staying organized requires you to build new habits and possibly let go of ideas you have of who you are and what is important to you.
Case in point: I was working on a series of projects with a client recently and observed this pattern.
As we worked through a pile of items all belonging to the same category and needing the same resolution, this person would rush ahead of me and start saying, “I know, I know…,” in an attempt to beat me to the punch. Except there was no punch.
This is something most of us do around tender or vulnerable subjects.
We take a simultaneous leap towards owning the “bad” behavior and at the same time, defend ourselves from the feedback since we assume we already know what the other person is going to say to us.
Growing up, I was often criticized for errors in my behavior as well as things that were intrinsic to my personality.
It eventually became too painful to hear any feedback—I would never know if I was going to be corrected on something I had control over or something that was a part of me. And since I didn’t know how to stop being me, it was better to just agree and get it over with.
But it meant that I stopped listening and isolated myself even while acting as if I were listening and paying attention.
I felt protected and safe but was missing out on experiences and intimacy. It was a black and white solution to a rather gray challenge but I couldn’t see that at the time.
In my client’s case, I was trying to draw her attention to her habit of launching herself towards a project or goal with tremendous velocity and the best of intentions but no clear strategy, which is much more difficult to sustain that a carefully thought-out plan.
This client often complains of great starts and no finishes and this may be why.
Self-knowledge doesn’t guarantee change—it’s just information. Without application it means little.
Even more crucial is being open to feedback. And help.
When you trust the source, can you listen with an open heart for the solution instead of feeling accused by the problem?
True friends and companions are almost always eager to help you succeed.
It just may be hard to see that when what you’re hearing is, “you’re wrong.”