What if you tried to organize a space only to realize that it wasn’t working? And you re-organize it and again find it wasn’t working? And again, repeating the steps over and over again. Would you then tell yourself that you’re not good at organizing? Have you ever thought about how you label yourself? The times that we encounter repeated struggles can be daunting and it might lead us to decide our capabilities – and not in a realistic or positive way.
Would you think me less of a professional organizer if you knew that scenario above was from my home and life? Early last month I realized that I needed to divide a category I’d created in my craft closet – that it was creating unnecessary chaos. That opened the door to how several parts were not working – there was clutter collecting again. There had been some great progress with the degree of clutter compared to the past – yet there were still problems.
I’m certainly not proud of the repeated problems I’ve had with the space. It has been extremely frustrating and amazingly overwhelming – some of which I talked about almost 2 years ago in Overwhelmed? ? – and I’m grateful that these recent changes don’t feel overwhelming, though they are frustrating sometimes! My experiences also illustrate that simply having a neat system does not magically make things organized or more importantly stay organized.
How easy it could be to decide that I’m not capable of organizing – consider that in over 10 years that I’ve played with the closet, it’s always broken down. There’s more than a decade of “evidence” that I can’t organize, isn’t there? Yet, it is focused on that closet. If you’ve read my blog for a while you know that there have been other spaces needing re-organizing – that spaces simply stop working sometimes. More signs that organizing isn’t in my skill set, right? Proof, at least if we consider only those examples.
The way we interpret our experiences can have a huge impact on what we do or don’t do. If you tell yourself that you are just no good at organizing, you’re probably going to avoid trying to do it and focus on all the “proof” that backs up your interpretation. What would happen if you searched for all the evidence that was the opposite of your interpretation (and not minimize or discount them)?
As much as the repeated failure of the organizing inside the craft room closet is hard to accept, I can also see that each time I re-do things in there I make improvements – both in how things are arranged and in how long the organization is maintained. I recognize that my continuing struggles are centered on that specific area.
It’s remarkably easy to discount our successes – it seems like we all do it in some way or context. Likewise, we all falter and struggle sometimes. It might feel that we’re more prone to challenges than other people. What do you tell yourself? Do you see any possibility for finding your way through your challenges?
I keep chipping away at that craft room closet – riding the ebb and flow of emotions – from overwhelmed, to frustrated, to excited, to apathetic, to embarrassment, to any number of other reactions. I recognize that it is simply feelings – they will pass or at least subside and don’t necessarily reflect the reality. My interpretation is that I’ve struggled to find all the solutions I need for this space and stuff at the same time – that it is evidence that there are times we need to go through the process of discovering our answers, however long that process might take. (My post, Organizing Art & Craft Supplies, talks about some solutions.)
Therefore, the way we interpret our own challenges can define how we progress through them. Professional organizers exist because people struggle with getting organized – there’s nothing wrong with facing that challenge with help. Yet, if you tell yourself that you’re just lousy with organization, what happens when the organizer leaves and you’re left to maintain the organization?
Put a limit on your critical interpretations – in what way are you challenged, specifically? How are you successful, even in the midst of that struggle? Can you see that there’s a way for you to develop the skills? When the ongoing challenges in a particular area tempt you to you give up, how will you interpret both the continuing struggle and your inclination to throw up your hands and walk away? You probably know generally what I would say – find an explanation that supports you and your strengths from the reality rather than any biases.