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Blog: Discovering Your Core Values
Emotional Organizing: What to Do With Those 'Negative' Feelings

What can we do about the feelings we stir up when organizing our stuff?  So often we get emotional when organizing, especially purging.  Why?  What are the triggers?  What are the emotions most commonly felt?

Guilt is common.  We may carry guilt surrounding something we did or didn't do.  What is guilt anyway?  Merriam-Webster defines it as, "feelings of culpability especially for imagined offenses or from a sense of inadequacy"
How about anger, jealousy, or fear?  These are all feelings that can have negative affects on your health - not always, but can.   They can increase the levels of toxic stress you carry around in your body.

What should we do with/about them? 

  1. Notice them.  Be aware and label what you are feeling.  Role model it for your children.  Speak the feeling out loud. 
  2. Feel them.  Tune into your senses.  (Again role model to your kids: tell them about the funny feelin gyour your stomach, the tenseness of your shoulders, the sweaty palms, etc.)  So often we don't allow ourselves to actually feel a 'negative' emotion.  They scare us, we don't necessarily like how we feel.  But to move forward, it is very necessary to actually experience the emotion.  Think about when someone you love dies, you cry - you feel sad or even depressed.  Doing so helps you to move through the grieving process, to move on with your life.  Allow yourself to feel other emotions like that as well. 
  3. Ask questions.  What is the feeling alerting you of?  Is there something missing?  Danger imminent?  A block in getting what you want/need? 
  4. Work toward the answers.  How can you get past your block?  What is the block?  In terms of danger: fight or flight?  How can you get back what's missing?
  5. Let go.  Yep.  Let go.  Especially to the ones that you have the choice to.  Which should be just about all of them.  Once you've felt them and worked toward what you want, let go.
Let's take anger.  Someone did an injustice to you.  Notice and label your anger.  Feel it.  Determine why you are angry - what was the injustice?  How can you get past it?  This feeling is yours.  You own it.  If you are not working through it, it is hurting you - not the person who caused you the injustice.  They don't feel it, they don't care.  You are the one responsible for working through it and then letting it go. 

Forgive them their injustice.  You are not saying what they did was right, you are saying you are done with it and moving on.  Forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same.  You are also not doing any favors to the person who wronged you - you are doing yourself a favor!  You are improving your own health.

I have clients who often say they feel guilty about keeping something or getting rid of something or having kept something for so long when it was serving no purpose.  What I tell them is to feel that guilt.  Label it.  Ask themselves exactly what it is they are feeling guilty about.  Rarely is it actually about the item.  It has to do with broken relationships, inadequate feelings about oneself, money problems, and other insecurities.  Once you notice what the guilt is actually about - usually nothing to do with the item - you can let it go.  You can now deal with the real block or loss or whatever the guilt was really about.

Once a client expressed sadness regarding the sheer volume of expired food in the cupboards we were organizing.  The sadness was not really about the items, it was about the waste of money, the waste of space, the lack of organization in regards to the meal planning and shopping, which led to a waste of time, and then the waste of food when so many people in the world don't have any.

What could she do about it?  Lots.  Start planning the meals and shopping lists, (Check out my shopping list templates in The Family Core Organizer) rotate food in the fridge and cupboards as the new food is brought in.  Only buy what you'll eat, politely decline gifts or give them to a food shelf.  Donate in general to a food shelf or other world organization to help feed starving children - just to name a few.

What do you feel when organizing?  Are there emotions you are blocking because they are "too hard" to feel?  Or are there areas of your life that you avoid organizing because of the emotions they stir up?  Give the above a try.  Experience them and then try again.  You will move forward.

Let go and do.

posted on: 12/15/2007 12:00:00 PM by Tami Gallagher
category: The Mental Side

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Discovering Your Core Values

by Tami Gallagher

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About Tami:

Tami Gallagher is a Professional Organizer who specializes in Family Time Management. Her company does individual family consulting, workshops and presentations, and also provides community resources for families. Ms. Gallagher believes every family matters. She teaches families how to examine their core values and use them as a foundation in organizing their lives. Available on her website is The Family Core Organizer CD. This fun, practical, and easy to use tool is the ultimate planner and information keeper for your family. Everything you need all in one location!

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