I’m sharing some advice today that, as a minimalism and simplicity blogger, I never thought I’d say…
Embrace the mess.
You might think I’ve forgotten what my blog is about, but hang with me.
I’m a very orderly person.
After decluttering my home about 10 years ago, I started a business helping other women simplify their lives.
I’m really good at taking chaos and turning it into neat lines.
I have triplets. From the moment they were born, I put them on a sleeping and eating schedule that allowed me some (often small) sense of order in those hectic early days.
But here’s something I’ve learned after a decade of decluttering, simplifying, and organizing…
Life is messy.
And I’m not talking just about closets, but heck why not, let’s start there…
Embrace the Mess at Home
I think one of the reasons I’m able to help others declutter their homes is that I embrace the mess.
When clients open their closet doors to me – often cringing with embarrassment – I don’t pass judgment. I see a mess, sure, but I don’t judge it as good or bad. To me, it’s an interesting puzzle I’m eager to solve.
I used to think my success at helping clients get organized stemmed from my decluttering skills, but I’ve come to realize that there’s something much more fundamental going on…
I embrace the mess.
Think about this in your own home.
Picture that cluttered closet or drawer. Imagine opening it.
Now check in with your feelings.
Are you judging yourself for allowing the space to get this way?
Are you judging others for putting their stuff here?
Are you feeling guilt, anger, or embarrassment?
If so, you’re normal. 😉
But let’s imagine how this experience could play out differently…
What might happen if you opened that closet door and simply embraced the mess?
What if you observed the piles of clothing, crumpled receipts, and random cords without judgment?
What might be available to you if you embraced this mess, exactly as it is, without needing to change it?
What type of action might stem from you seeing your mess this way?
I’m not going to give you any answers. But I am going to encourage you to try it and let me know how it goes. 😊
Embrace the Mess at Work
I recently had my coach observe me coaching a client and he gave me some feedback that I didn’t want to hear.
“I notice that you do a lot of generating for your clients,” he said. “What do you think it costs them when you do that?”
Ugh. He’d ferreted out my biggest weakness as a coach… My fear that my clients won’t see me as valuable unless I solve their problems for them.
When my clients come to me with issues – and often these extend far beyond physical clutter – my desire is to jump in and make it better. I want to brainstorm solutions, make a plan, and hold them to it so they can get out of “the mess” and start creating more calm in their lives.
But the problem is…
When I look at my clients’ problems this way I’m not embracing their mess. By jumping in with a solution, I’m immediately judging their situation as “bad.”
Worse, I’m judging them as being unable to solve it themselves.
When I try to clean the mess for them, I’m robbing them of the transformative experience of generating their own solution, trying it, and seeing what happens.
Thus, after spending a few days arguing in my head about why my coach was wrong about his assessment of my skills, I’ve been practicing embracing the mess at work.
(As a Type A person, this has been very, very hard for me.)
I’ve been going into my client sessions unsure of where we’re headed, but embracing that uncertainty.
I’ve asked questions – not even sure if they’re the “good coaching questions” I pride myself on asking – to try to get my clients to dig deeper and figure out what’s really going on.
Overall, I’ve tried to embrace the truth:
I cannot know how to solve all my clients’ problems.
But instead of allowing that to send me into my own spiral of fear and insecurity, I’m practicing embracing it, trusting that we’ll go on the journey together and figure it out.
And amazingly… we do. I’ve had some incredible client sessions in the past week and I know it’s because I’ve embraced the mess in my work.
So I’m curious… What might happen if you embraced the mess at your work?
Try it and let me know.
Embrace the Mess In Your Mind
Hoo boy, this is where it gets tangly, folks!
Our minds are messy. At least mine can feel that way.
I’d love to say that I experience Zen-like calm at all hours of the day, but the truth is…
I’m constantly trying to maintain mental steadiness in a world that often seems determined to knock me off-kilter.
From overwhelming to-do’s to parenting three teenagers to trying to maintain a connected marriage to making time for meaningful friendships to processing Supreme Court decisions that make me want to rage to keeping up personal health habits to just making sure the dang bills are paid on time, it can feel like a bona-fide, certified MESS up in my gray matter a lot of the time.
I feel vulnerable even writing that, as I pride myself being a person who looks like she her sh*t together.
But I’m opening my mental closet doors to you today and letting you know… My mind is messy.
And I’m working on embracing it.
I’m working on embracing the fact that there will always be things I cannot control.
I’m working on embracing the inherent messiness in my parenting, my marriage, and my friendships. Relationships are messy because people are messy. I am. You are. That’s the truth of the human experience.
And as I embrace all of this mess, I’m experiencing something profound…
The peace I’d been searching for while trying to organize everything into straight mental lines.
Turns out, there’s more peace to be had in embracing the mess than trying to control it.
Does this mean I don’t work on my parenting, my marriage, and my relationships?
Does this mean I’ve stopped cleaning my house or trying to show up as the best coach I can in my work?
Does it mean I’ve said “Eff it! No more paying bills on time!”
Not at all.
But it means that I’m no longer white-knuckling it. I’m no longer fearful that if I don’t maintain control, something bad will happen.
I’m surrendering to the beauty of the mess, because that’s the truth…
Messes are beautiful because they’re full of possibility.
When we’re willing to embrace the mess, we tap into our curiosity. We wonder what might happen next. We get to experience that joyful child-like feeling most of us responsible adults have forgotten about: Play.
I encourage you to join me. Embrace the mess. See what happens.
What’s one area of your life where you could embrace the mess?
I’d love for you to email me personally at [email protected] and let me know.