Few people get organized by hanging a new key rack near the front door, or buying another filing cabinet. Unless the confusion is tracked down to its hiding place, the key rack won’t get used or the panic will just pop up in some new place.
You may have a person like Jeannie in your life: always losing her car keys, always late (and making jokes about it), retracing her steps when running errands, forgetting to pay a bill. Once in a while, she says she “absolutely must get organized.”
Because we love her so much, we tried to help, bought her a book entitled (duh) Getting Organized, reminded her about a doctor’s appointment. But when we looked closer, we had to admit that she basically enjoyed the mayhem; it made her feel alive; it was fun!
The real source of her disorganization was a pay-off: it gave her something she liked. Everything about getting organized had always been a band-aid that came unglued in a day or two. She needed to pay a visit to her dark basement and look around.
The Tale Wagged
Maybe your Jeannie fears losing her youth, not pleasing her husband, or becoming her mother’s clone — it’s different for each person. And of course, Jeannie may be you.
When my confusion becomes a habit, maybe I can prick up my ears and name its subterranean origin. If I’m already in the basement anyway, why not look around, get a better picture of what’s bugging me all the time?
I can’t give peace to my friends, my spouse, my children, if I don’t have it myself, what with all those troubling noises coming from under the floor.
For years, I was addicted to the nervous high of being late. Granted, life often got pretty ugly, but that was outweighed by the tremendous energy generated by trying to cram in one more errand.
Now, I notice that I’m going out of my way to arrive early. I don’t like the feeling of running it to the wire, of “keeping the front tire on the yellow line.” I’m beginning to prefer a different kind of energy to the old high.
Yeah, but how do we put it into practice?
If being disorganized is no longer fun (or your favorite excuse), then — good news! — the “un-fun-ness” is your ticket out.
First, welcome by examining your confusion without guilt or shame, visit the orderliness that scares you, keep studying the mess in detail, so that you can see what you (unconsciously) like about it.
Just this process of awareness will bring you some breathing room; just waking up to the actual inner workings of your disorder is 9/10 of the battle.