We’ve been talking about renewal, getting unstuck and moving forward at the TSF blog. My family and friends know that I’m a planner and I love being organized. Recently I was catching up with a former manager and he joked about my desk always being pristine and my files being in order.
These habits follow me home also. I try to never leave dishes in the sink. The master bedroom is usually tidy – except for a few clothes that land on my reading chair. It works for me—as long as the bed is made every day, no matter what kind of day I’ve had, I can return home in the evening to some sense of calm.
I have a confession to make though—a big one, actually. My home office has always been a bit of a disaster. This is mostly due to paper clutter – files and receipts. Last year I started a major project which involved emptying 3 storage bins of paper, purging old files, and lots of shredding. At the beginning of 2012, I decided to do a complete home office makeover. A sleek new desk would replace my old computer armoire. I’d also been living with a broken file cabinet for a while. This week, I had a donation/junk haul away service take the old pieces of furniture so I could make room for the new. I thought I was ready to move forward.
It turns out that what I allowed to hide behind the computer armoire doors for the past 3 months was now exposed. After the junk was hauled away, there was not a clean slate but instead lots of build-up. The work I thought was finished was only the first phase. It’s time to wade through the paper jungle again, deciding what stays and what goes.
Clutter in our physical environment can be a challenge to overcome. But what about mental clutter, such as worry and negative self-talk? What about the residue or consequences from past mistakes or poor decisions?
I love before and after footage of HGTV home makeover shows. I usually channel surf during the demo and construction phase. I’m too impatient to watch the work that goes into the transformation. Isn’t that our human nature? We might be tempted to take shortcuts or bury our heads in the sand when we’re overwhelmed or it seems like it will just take too long to see any progress. I think it’s important to have a way of capturing our progress along the journey—not just “before and after,” but stations along the way. Perhaps, the ability to see the current snapshot as just that, a stop along the way, will serve as a reminder that where you are now is not where you need to stay.
Is there something you thought you’d addressed- only to discover that it’s time to deal with it again? Is there something that, if you knew you committed to it every day, would make even the smallest difference in your mindset and how you respond to stress? Feel free to share your comments below.
This article is intended for general education purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling or medical care. If you are interested in seeking professional counseling, please call The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004.
Elicia McIntyre, a licensed clinical social worker, and graduate of Smith College School for Social Work, has 14 years’ experience providing counseling to adults, children and families in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. She has helped clients navigate life transitions, depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties. Elicia helps couples increase emotional intimacy, and foster healthy connections among family members. She has spent the past 3 years traveling nationally and overseas, providing education and intervention to military service members and their families on communication, stress management and building healthy relationships.