Therapy works from the inside out.
Organizing works from the outside in.
Both can be life changing!
Organizing was my drug.
“Yes, you read that right. Growing up in a completely dysfunctional and chaotic household was how I learned my job skills. When it felt out of control and scary in my life, I put things in order. It soothed me, comforted me and helped me feel a little sense of control in an environment with very little structure and security.
However, even so called ‘good’ things can be bad. Things done in excess. It typically denotes an imbalance of some sort. Even activities that seem positive on the outside; exercise, achievements, hobbies…..can actually be unhealthy crutch’s. Our way of avoiding uncomfortable feelings. Although organizing things was a non destructive choice, as opposed to say drinking or taking drugs, it was still something that kept me from dealing with and processing a lot of uncomfortable emotions.
Fast forward a few decades and many years of therapy and I have a unique perspective. I understand at a very deep level what we are all really searching for when we say we want to “Get Organized.” Certainly it’s how things look. But, more importantly, It’s a feeling we are searching for. What being “Organized” represents to us. A feeling of calm. A feeling of control. A feeling of peace.
Getting organized does in fact provide all of those feelings. However, the path from Chaos to Calm may not always be straight. My own personal experience, as well as over a decade of coaching clients has shown me that things may not always be what they seem.
A closet full of clothes might be someone who needs a better closet system. Though, I will tell you that I don’t get those calls. Those calls go to one of the many closet companies who can more than adequately take care of those needs. The calls I get are the wife who has racks and racks of clothes with the tags still on because she is in an unhappy marriage and is using ‘buying things’ as a way to numb out and avoid dealing with it. Or the woman who has some serious body image issues/weight fluctuations and facing those clothes every day causes her serious shame. So she doesn’t do it.
The mom with a disaster of a house could be lacking the right storage and systems. Or it could be that she is lacking self esteem. She has her children signed up in every activity known to man in order to fill some holes left in their own childhood. Or, she has signed herself up for every volunteer opportunity available in order to feel like the “good” mom she feels she should be so there is no time left over to actually enjoy life.
An office full of paper might be someone without a simple and effective filing system. But, more often than not, it’s someone who has too many things going on in life. He has over committed and over estimated himself and doesn’t have the time to actually do it all. He has buried himself so effectively so as to have no quality of life. Or, he could be so terrified of being audited or having his identity stolen, that he keeps every single piece of paper and is living in fear instead of living.
A garage full of sporting equipment and outdoor gear could need some shelving and space layout. Or, it could be that all of that equipment is going unused because someone is too afraid of actually chasing their dreams.
A storage room full of boxes could be some junk that needs to be given to good will. Or it could be a room of unresolved grief from a parent dying and the inability to truly process it and move forward.
I could go on but you get the idea. Maybe you even resonate with some of these examples. My point is, it’s not typically about the ‘stuff.’ Which is why I say that therapy is from the inside out and organizing is from the outside in. This is what I love about my job. Yes, things look beautiful and feel good when they are labeled, containerized and in the right place. Life flows better. Calm is more achievable. But digging deeper into what is really going on can produce profound and permanent change in someone’s life.”
Teri Lynn, has been coaching clients and helping them bring “Calm” to their “Chaos” for over ten years. Her work has been featured on HGTV, local news channels and she can be seen in newspapers and publications across the country. She is a speaker, writer and passionate believer that getting organized is one of many paths that can lead us to a better quality of life.