When I was a little girl, a long, LONG time ago, my mother took me to swimming lessons.
I was TERRIFIED of water that was taller than I was.
She’d tried to teach me to swim in a neighbours pool. What a performance! I thrashed and squealed and wailed and coughed and spluttered! So off we went to Proper Lessons at the school pool (dragging my feet, dreading it with every cell in my little body).
The mothers sat around the pool watching their little angels learn to swim. The teacher was a frighteningly loud sort of chap with a year-round tan. I embarrassed him in front of his audience. Because all that whinging and spluttering with my mother? Exactly the same.
Fourth lesson. He looked at me with loathing. I felt exactly the same about him.
I could feel the eyes of the mothers on us when it was my turn (the drama, the snotty tears!) Then he did something different.
He held me under the water.
I was practicing putting my head under the water (my downfall every time.) But instead of popping up after a couple of seconds, coughing and crying, I found myself still under water and unable to move.
It was only for a few seconds longer, maybe 5 seconds, but you know what? Was I MAD! He let me pop up and I looked for my mother, but she wasn’t WATCHING! She had no idea what had just happened. Apparently.
The next lesson came around. I was still mad at him! In my strange little mind the only thing to do was I’ll show HIM!!! So I held myself under water for 5 seconds longer. Popped up and looked for him with a glare of triumph (after wiping my eyes and hiding a splutter) and HE wasn’t looking either!
It was an immensely frustrating episode in my young life. But I did learn something.
It was all in my head. My thoughts told me it was scary and I couldn’t do it. Then those thoughts were pushed right out of my head and it turns out I could. What I continued to learn over the rest of my life was that we can change what we think.
I’ve been working as a Professional Organiser for a few years and I’ve seen how helping my clients to change their thoughts, changes how they deal with their clutter.
Declutter your thoughts!
I can’t declutter, it’s too painful.
I can’t get rid of this, I’m responsible for looking after it.
I shouldn’t spend money on myself, it’s indulgent.
The number of unhelpful thoughts we have! Most of them come from deep beliefs we have about ourselves, how we should behave and what we deserve. They influence everything we do. They are Big Beliefs.
Some people just don’t want to go down the path of dealing with these big beliefs. That’s the main reason why they can’t declutter. It’s like poking a monster, difficult feelings rise up and make them feel bad.
But there is a way of tackling the thoughts that stop us from doing the things we want.
It’s the old chestnut – Start Small.
- Wishing you could have a weekly cleaner? But just can’t bring yourself to spend the money? Start with a monthly clean. Or even smaller, work out a budget and find three cleaners and chat to them about what they can do for you. No pressure, just research.
You’re starting to dislodge a thought. Can’t afford it. I should do everything myself. My mother cleaned the whole house herself every week and she had four kids!
- Dreaming of moving into a tiny home? But your grandmother’s fancy crystal! It took her a lifetime to collect! Start by choosing one to three pieces that you love with all your heart. That’s it. For now. You’ve just defined what’s important to YOU.
You’re adjusting a thought. I’m responsible for EVERYTHING. My dreams don’t matter. I’m trapped because these things are more important than enjoying my life to the fullest.
- You are stressed and OVER all the stuff in your house. But you need a glass of wine at the mere THOUGHT of decluttering. Start with something unemotional. The pantry’s good. Then the junk drawer or the gardening shelves. See how nice it looks?
Thought proved wrong: I can’t declutter. Decluttering anything makes my anxiety go through the roof. Decluttering is too hard for me, I’ll never get it done, I may as well give up now.
There’s an interesting side effect of repeatedly adjusting what we thought was true.
Changing limiting thoughts by doing things we thought we couldn’t (or shouldn’t), changes those Big Beliefs. Every time we repeat a behaviour that goes against an old thought, we’re making those big beliefs a bit smaller. A bit weaker. A bit wrong.
So if you ever thought you couldn’t declutter, swim, dance, sing, write a book or do something just for you, try doing a small thing that proves that thought wrong. Then do it again.
And please let me know how it goes.
PS. Do you remember a time when you were terrified to do something? And then you did it? Or decluttered something that was SO hard to get rid of, but you did it anyway? I’d love to hear your story.
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