I recently had a discussion with my close friend Suzanne, a fellow entrepreneur, about the axiom “your greatest strength can also be your greatest weakness”. She is a strong believer in this, especially when it comes to entrepreneurs, most of whom start an enterprise founded on their greatest strength. Like the shoemaker with holes in his shoes. The discussion got me thinking about myself as a professional organizer. Folks often ask me whether my house is a mess or in excellent order. In fact, my home is in great order; everything in its place waiting to serve. While I do have some action items on which I procrastinate and perhaps an over-ambitious “to read” pile, it’s far from a display of great weakness.
However, the key benefit that most of my clients appreciate when we work together is not merely putting things in order. Coaching around helping them make the “let go” decisions usually necessary to eliminate clutter is the real healing work; the compassionate questioning that helps them make decisions on what serves them and what does not. And disorganization does not only rear its ugly head with things like paper, clothing and household goods. It exists also with intangibles like action times, thoughts, diets and even in relationships. In all these cases, the hard part is the letting go.
And so it hit me. My greatest strength – helping people let go – is, indeed, my greatest weakness. Oh, sure, I let go of stuff quite easily the moment possessions don’t serve me. Yet, when it comes to difficult life situations and relationships, I hold on and hold on until my emotions clog up, overwhelm and block me. A sure sign of clutter.
I am at a place right now, within my family, where letting go is wildly necessary. The choices I made, beginning with moving far away from where I was raised, and the people we have all evolved to over time, have resulted in family relationships far from what I expected. Some close ties and loyalties have degraded or are gone completely. Difficult experiences are stacked painfully on a shelf in my heart. I spend too much time holding on to those pains or trying to fix things, just as my clients spend time and energy keeping space for things that are no longer beautiful, useful or joyful to them.
Some ties need to be cut. Or minimized. Or simply forgiven. Another dear friend shared the zen proverb Let Go or Be Dragged. By becoming unattached and letting go, I am beginning to experience the same feeling of liberation and catharsis that my clients feel when we get organized and I leave their space with a carload of clutter donations. I want the same order in my love circle of family and friends that I have in my closets and cupboards. We all deserve that.
It won’t be easy, but I look forward to making the choices and reaping the rewards of decluttering my relationship house.
Letting go will open doors for me. I wish this for you. How are you being dragged? In what form is your clutter? And what will your world offer once it’s gone?