Nearly every client asks me at one point or another,
“Is my home the messiest you’ve seen?”
I always say no. And while I’m sure that at some point, there’s some measurable way to assess which client is actually the messiest I’ve ever worked with, I won’t even bother thinking through this metric, because it doesn’t matter.
This type of comparison is dangerous in a few ways, so today we’ll talk about three of these comparison monsters and what to consider about your home and situation instead of falling into the trap of self-devaluation.
Monster Number One: We have been told by someone else that our home—and by default we—aren’t good enough for their approval.
Perhaps your friend came in to use the restroom and you saw a flinch as you opened the door. Perhaps your mother in law has told your husband that he chose someone who isn’t good at keeping a home. Perhaps you spend a lot of time on Instagram following an account that preaches radical dos and don’ts around keeping a home—and you know that you do every don’t. Wherever these disapproving messages come from, it can be easy to internalize them.
Monster Crusher: Instead of sinking into what you aren’t doing well in your home, write down three things in your life you’re crushing. Maybe you are a kickass teacher whose most difficult student knows how loved and valued they are. Maybe you have been keeping a joyful spirit while battling cancer. Maybe you just figured out the solution to that problem that your CEO couldn’t see until you pointed it out. You’re doing SOMETHING well in your life, and it’s likely way more important than how organized your home is, so include your success just as much as your shame when you start considering your worth
Monster Number Two: We have been through life difficulties and want to know if we’ve managed to keep afloat or if we really have sunk in the midst of it
Most of my clients have experienced something really, really difficult that they eventually share with me. They tell me why their home got the way it did, and hoooooly cow do I get it. On the list of things that make maintaining organizing difficult? Moving, illness, familial difficulties, new babies, adult children moving out but not taking all of their things, downsizing, financial hardship, grief, and so much more. I likely just named something you have personally experienced at one time or another. And unfortunately, most people don’t lean into how to navigate these situations without adding another checklist of how to do them “well.”
Monster Crusher: Gently remind yourself, or hear my reminder, that it’s not only normal, but it’s perfectly acceptable for your world and your organizing systems to fall apart in the midst of major life difficulties. While the goal of organizing is to set up systems that take away stress and allow you to focus on these things, my gosh we’re all trying the best we can. Think of difficult times like a root bound plant. Know that judging yourself in the middle of a difficult season keeps that root bound and forces it to keep strangling itself in the pot it’s in. But giving grace to yourself and others means acknowledging you need a different space in which to grow and to loosen up the roots so you can access further nourishment. Don’t compare your plant to another’s, because they’re wildly different.
Monster Number Three: We’re assessing the safety of being vulnerable with the people with whom we’re sharing our shame.
Some people use the question of “Is my home the messiest you’ve seen?” as a litmus test to see if I am a safe person. I get this. It’s a lot simpler to throw your shame at someone and see how they react than sit back and wait to see if they judge you. I’ve done this with a lot of more controversial things than how messy my home is. When we are faced with how someone else perceives us, it’s easier to be the person to bring it up first.
Monster Crusher: Instead of asking for their opinion, try to name what’s actually going on with YOU. That’s what really matters. Perhaps you could evaluate if you’re experiencing shame that they’ll judge you, fear that they’ll tell other people how horrible they think you are, or that they will be uncomfortable receiving your hospitality. When you feel comfortable directly addressing YOUR feelings with a person you’re being vulnerable enough to bring into your home, you can actually say to them,
“Hey, just a head’s up, my home isn’t where I’d like it to be and I’m concerned that you might be scared off from being my friend. If that’s a risk, let’s go somewhere else to have coffee, but know that I would like to take this opportunity to be vulnerable with you if you think you can handle it.”
I know, it’s scary. But this kind of statement is so much more transformative than covertly asking another person if they’re judging you. It can actually deepen friendships and develop trust.
Organized YOU! host Taylor Vogel is the Owner &
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