Life happens even if we try to force it. My clients often ask me how this should work, because our rational thinking can’t make sense out of “If I just accept the mess, how will I get anything done”?
Obviously my customers have collected a lot of clutter in the past and are trying to change. If it is a transformation that is driven by cortisol and adrenaline, there will be a different outcome than changing with intentional planning and accepting. Which one do you think is the better way to find lasting change with kindness to yourself?
I have worked with people powered by these stress hormones and even so we cleared their chaos in record time, it only lasted a couple of weeks. They were extremely pressured and the fact of letting go caused them pain. Their intentions were not clear and they had no plan nor an actual goal, besides getting this done quickly. Shortly after all the work was done, they went shopping and started adding again. They rather fell back into their old chaos -even so it caused them stress- than going through the practice of self-discipline and creating the space they really longed for. Many seem to look for the easy way out…
Maybe discipline sounds harsh, because words like: control, authority, rule and strictness come to mind. I am talking about self-discipline which is really a positive and important attribute. Direction and order are beneficial and they manifest as inner strength. You overcome procrastination and laziness, and you follow through with whatever you do, providing an uncluttered mind, that sets you up for more time, space and happiness.
The skill of self discipline is a learned behavior. Sometimes our parents are really good with teaching us and sometimes they are not. How do you become savvy in this technique? It is simple: Daily practice, diligence and repetition.
Accepting reality next to your practice of self -discipline is part of succeeding. It kind of rubs your nose in the fact that your kitchen is a mess, the laundry needs to be done, your floors are dirty and the rest of the family is not getting the hang of putting their stuff away. There is no quick cure for this, therefor simply accept it and work on the change.
In case you are in a family environment, make sure you share responsibilities. If someone does not do them, they will have to deal with the consequences. Be disciplined to do your part and let go of what is not yours. My kids are the greatest procrastinators and let me tell you, they did not get this from me! All I can do is remind them of their duties. I am leading as a good example and I take care of myself. Hopefully they will learn from my illustrations and benefit from it some day.
If you live in a single household, self-discipline might be easier. You certainly can’t blame anybody else for the mess.
When the feeling comes up that there is no end in sight, you do not know where to start and the chaos seems to swallow you, rest assured that with repetition and practice of self-discipline all will fall into place. It is a process that gets better with time!
Here are some of my guidlines that have helped clients during their declutter journey.
Make a weekly schedule and assign the following duties to certain days of the week and stick to them: grocery shopping, laundry, paper work, cleaning. This way you know they get done when their time comes.
Appoint everybody with specific duties. For example: walking the dog, doing their own laundry, cooking, emptying the trash, watering the plants, mowing the lawn…
Start with one room at a time to clear the chaos. Do not move to the next one until you are done.
Stop buying stuff!
Everything should have its place and start putting things where they belong!
Get rid of duplicates, make space and let go!
Get more sleep!
Take breaks, maybe learn to meditate, or find something that soothes your busy mind!
Doing this right you can’t just be self- disciplined in one area, it is an overall gentle practice. My friend Cindy is a “horsewoman” teaching equine and rider how to come to a reliable and lasting relationship. Here is what she said the other day: “It is persistence, not insistence”! Do you see the gentle difference? It is the same as cortisol and adrenaline vs. self-discipline and accepting. Or, let’s put it this way “You can’t make the grass grow any faster by pulling on it”!