Week 5

Last week looked at challenges from within, and this week looks at challenges from without.

Day 29: Resist junk pushers

The other day I drove down the road and saw a desk marked free.  I thought about stopping and getting it, and actually turned my car around to get it but someone else had gotten there first.  And while I really do think that desk would have had a legitimate use in our house, I am kind of glad I didn’t give in the initial impulse to pick it up only because it was free.

Day 30:  Special occasions

The diet version of this was eating out, and I think that if keeping paper or knick knacks is a weakness for you, gifts and cards can become a problem.  The thing is, I have dozens of precious photographs I can’t find because of the sheer volume of other stuff in my basement.  How is that honoring my life?  When it comes to a gift or a card, there are some hard questions one might ask:
Do I know who gave this to me, and when?
Did I even attend this event (in the case of wedding/graduation announcements)
And then there’s the question of whether something “sparks joy.”  I suspect that serious hoarders have a tangle of strong emotions which may or may not include joy.  Things connect to memories, and I suspect memories are the lifeblood of OCD.

Day 31: Decide about drinking

This is the diet tip.  While some people have been known to acquire junk under the influence (cf. Christine Lavin’s “What was I thinking”) does alcohol itself make clutter, the way alcohol contributes calories to the diet?  Maybe if you save the bottles.  Or you fancy yourself a collector.  The fine line between clutter, hobbies, and collections is a question of degree that can emulate the conundrum of substance abuse.

Day 32:  Vacation from what?

I wish I’d read this before my daughter’s 3 week visit, which we handled as a staycation.  So when I diet, I try to meet my basic health focused goals even on holidays and vacations.  It’s harder in some situations than others.  I am actually pretty good eating out, but have a devil of a time at family parties.  The question is, am I on vacation from a diet, or am I on vacation from good health?  What is my eating plan about?

So let’s bring this over to organization.  Am I on vacation from obligation, or am I on vacation from comfort, safety and peace?  What does my advantage list tell me?

Day 33:  End Emotional Procrastination

The diet corollary is end emotional eating.  She points out that indulgence doesn’t solve your problems and is likely to make you feel worse.  A second step is to identify emotions (like the HALT method).  We sometimes take steps to head off a negative feeling before we even feel it.  She then gives some cognitive behavior ideas for dealing with feelings, though unfortunately the first one is distraction.

Even though I wanted to get back to organization after my daughter returned to college, the day after I got hit with some quasi professional drama, which I allowed to derail me from organizing or even really doing much schoolwork.  Though I did work out, which is one of the more admirable ways to sublimate stress.  Then I forgot to pick up my kid fro school, though.

Day 34:  Solve problems

This is something new I don’t think I’ve quite run into before.  We may indulge to escape perplexity, so dealing with problems, even when you can’t solve them, is a valuable strategy to avoiding procrastination or overeating.  She recommends the seven question technique from day 27 to see if there is something in our perspective that could change.  I think writing generally is helpful.  It is important that the writing not just rehash the problem, but get into explanation or meaning.  Explanations are about what preceded the problem.  Meaning is about what the problem may bring about, which can always be personal growth.  :/

Day 35:  Keep realistic expectations

Something I had to be wary of when I was losing weight was thinking “if I keep this up, I could be X by such and such a date.”  As it turns out I did land dead on a goal I set in September on December 31.  But I didn’t do it by expecting it.  I did it by working.  As one of my favorite quotes goes, “You can’t do results, only behavior.”

So when I think “I have 5 weeks, if I did 2 boxes a day, I could…” I have to sit back and consider that I’ve never done 2 boxes a day consistently.  It tends to be either a lot more than that or less than 1.  My problem is not my number of boxes, but how I am using my time, I think.


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