I was working with someone recently and asked them to pick up a particular object we had been pondering. What the object was is not material to the story - it was one of those pivotal objects I’ve talked about in posts past. It was small and seemingly insignificant, but it had us engaged in quite a conversation:
Client: “No, I haven’t used it in the three years since I bought it. I should just get rid of it. But actually, as I hold it, I realize I do like using things like this. Maybe now that I’ve uncovered it, I can find a use for it.”
Me: “Ok, then, where would you like to store it so you can find it?”
Client: “NO! I don’t want to store it, I don’t have room! This is crazy. I need to pitch it.”
Me: “So shall we donate it?”
Client: “But then again…I haven’t even opened it. I’ll keep it. I’m sure I’ll use it.”
And so on. Perhaps the dialogue sounds familiar. I finally asked the client to stop and breathe deeply, and tell me exactly what he felt when he held it and looked at it.
“Waves upon waves of discomfort.”
I think sometimes we all encounter objects we own, or even tasks or obligations, that elicit similar feelings. We humans don’t like to be uncomfortable, do we? We have invented all sorts of fascinating tools to keep us protected from discomfort, like electric blankets and air conditioning. The world managed to do without either until they were invented in the early 1900s (and how many electric blankets have I taken for donation over the years?). In my research for “inventions that make us more comfortable,” I even found this nifty device:
But I digress.
The point is, when someone tells me they want to make their spaces more organized and manageable, they often use words like “peaceful” and “comfortable.” The irony is that getting to that place of peace and comfort requires engaging in what is, for many people, a distressing process. A process that has been avoided to avoid discomfort. Which then leads to being uncomfortable with life, which leads to a phone call to an organizer or other professional to help with the discomfort. Ack.
Pinpointing the exact source of irritation can be like herding cats. If we have lots of clutter, it makes us uncomfortable. If we let go of the clutter, it might make us uncomfortable. Or is it more that thinking about letting go of the clutter makes us uncomfortable? Or both? Is it easier to just decide to be comfortable with the current situation? There’s a lot to dig into here, and in the coming weeks, I’m planning to do just that. It's part of why I renamed the blog. Instead of only sorting through things, my work with clients involves taking a look at what all is behind the things that need sorting. It's never been just about stuff. For the record, my client worked through their discomfort. They accepted where they were, and kept the object in question - which actually led to a much bigger positive result (and some peace and comfort).
As always, I'd love for you to share your thoughts. Where do you come face to face with discomfort, or irritation, or unease in your organizing adventures?
p.s. And what do you think of the name of the blog?
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Organizer Coach®, wife, mom, and serial list-maker. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?