Making Inner Change
Often when I tell people what I do they jump in to ask me for ways to organize their belongings. What a lot of people don’t realize is that our outer environment, whether that be our space, time management, how we interact with others and the world, is a reflection of our inner beliefs, habits and thoughts.
When I first became a professional organizer I automatically challenged people’s beliefs around their belongings and the stories they attach to them. This did not go well since I was still figuring out how to communicate what I did. Harnessing more experience and research, I created a process that addresses both the inner and outer work needed to get organized, and am now able to support people in becoming aware of the stories they tell themselves. This also shows them how these stories are a huge barrier to being more intentional and organized.
What do you need to change on the inside to make changes on the outside?
Making changes whether it is in your day to day routine, diet, your thoughts or belief systems, takes extra time, energy, and effort. When we operate on a habitual level we are able to do things from our subconscious mind which requires little or no effort. For example, when you tie your shoes you’re not thinking about how to do it, it comes naturally.
Change means learning something new and using your conscious mind, which is why it requires extra time and effort. It’s also important to note that this is a process and the results are not immediate. We live in a culture of instant gratification which can affect people’s motivation to stick an intention they have set out for themselves.
What also affects people’s ability to change is that it can be uncomfortable to admit that you’ve been doing something for a long time isn’t helpful. This requires a high degree of Emotional Intelligence (which I will talk about next month) and a belief that any hurdle is an opportunity to better yourself.
Coming back to organizing time and space, if you have clutter in your life, how are you creating more work for yourself. What story can you let go of that's holding you back?
Looking on the outside to get a sense of what’s going on the inside is key. Take some time to see what’s not working for you and if any of the internal attachments below are holding you back from moving forward.
A belief is a repeated thought on a topic or a state of mind. For example, you could have a belief that if you wear something once, it’s dirty and you must wash it. Shifting this belief to wearing items twice before washing would save you time, energy and the need to have so many clothes. (unless you spill something on it the first time you wear it :) )
Beliefs can be reframed and changed and do not have to be rigid and fixed. When we are less attached to our beliefs it allows us to learn other ways of doing and seeing things.
Even before there is awareness on how someone is contributing to a problem, you need to identify that there is a problem to begin with. Being in denial can prevent you from seeing that maybe the way you put off ironing your clothing is not helpful and that you need to take action before it gets worse. Making change and creating a life that puts you in creation mode rather than crisis mode is key to being happy and healthy. Not acknowledging that your actions have consequences will only hinder your opportunity to enjoying life.
If denial is not acknowledging that there is a problem, resistance is the inability to deal with a negative or challenging experience. Resistance can also look like attachment to said problem and the feelings associated with it. This is exacerbated by an unwillingness to change or to take responsibility for your power in responding to the situation.
When faced with a challenge it can seem impossible to imagine the situation being any different. However, holding on to the belief that you are powerless strengthens your narratives and enables a self-fulfilling prophecy. But resisting change at all is more draining and more taxing on your well-being than being open to growth.
For example, if you live with other people and feel that you’re always cleaning up after them, you might decide to deal with the problem by no longer cleaning up at all. This indicates a resistance to looking at your role and responsibility with regards to the situation. Instead look at what feelings come up for you and how you can address them. From there you can start looking at what you can do to change so that the solution to the problem does not depend on external factors and other people.
Why It Matters
Becoming aware of your inner ways of being helps you identify what is not working and allows you to be empowered and take responsibility for your actions, beliefs, and habits. These stories are actually blaming external things and putting you in the position of victim when really you have a choice and there are things you can do. Seeking specialized support according to the area you’re focusing on will make that change seem possible and freeing!
What You Can Do
Pick one area of your life you’d like to focus on first, and make sure you have access to support throughout this process.
Start taking note of the stories you tell yourself everyday. Note how those stories could be holding you back from living the life that you want.
Rewrite your story in a way that allows to take your power back, and make changes that help you move forward.
Share with someone who can give you feedback, support, and also help challenge your old ways of being.
And of course find ways to celebrate any changes you see!
Change doesn’t have to be painful, it can be freeing and inspiring. Reading books that focus on what you want to change, getting support, and taking the time to look within are all great ways to shift your inner ways of being that are holding you back.