Finding Our Way Out of Disorder

Frances Strassman does Organizing and Coaching for Attention Deficit Disorder, Learning Differences, Chronic Disorganization, Pack Rats and Other Interesting People.

Of course you know you are disorganized. That is why you are reading this article. However most of us who are disorganized do not know exactly what we are doing to feed into the issue.

We do not know how to step outside of our self and arrive at an objective evaluation of our part in the disorder so that we can unravel the mystery. Over the years we tend to become either not able to see the details of what is happening, or overly critical and blaming of our self. Neither approach helps.

First, let’s look at the issue of not seeing. If you are like me, you may have spent years being frustrated by disorganization, yet looking at all the outside factors (which we often think to be major contributors to our disorder) and being irritated by these outside factors.

The problems are not outside of us.We need to start becoming aware of the connection between our not seeing what we are doing, and the resulting disorganization.

Secondly, when we do not blame outside factors we tend to become furious with our self and indulge in blame/shame.

It is hard to be objective about what is actually happening because we have become defensive. We are defensive because we tie intelligence together with being organized.

Intelligence has nothing to do with this lack of order. Unfortunately, our society has exactly tied intelligence and organization.

When we get disorganized, we are convinced that we have been “acting stupid”, rather than understanding that we simply lack skills.

It is very difficult to overcome this deep-seated belief, even when faced with the many proofs of our intelligence and abilities.

Having a smooth, fluid means for managing our life is something we can learn. For some reason this is not generally taught in schools.

The way out of disorder is two pronged. First, we need to gain objectivity. Secondly, we need to stop blaming our selves, and instead become good problem-solvers.

For most of us, it feels like the disorder just happens. In order to become objective and gain a foothold on overcoming disorder, it is essential to become this neutral observer of our actions.This is a tricky business because we live inside ourselves, not outside.

For example, if there were a little bird perched on a bookshelf in my living room, objectively watching me when I came in the door, that little bird would notice that I used to randomly scatter keys, wallet, and paper work around the house. This little bird would know that I had no idea where I placed these objects.

Since we lack objectivity, we don’t watch our selves scatter things. They just disappear. In fact, we have no idea where the objects went, or we may even decide that somebody else keeps moving them.

The second key element for change I have learned is that as long as we continue to criticize our selves about what we are doing or not doing, we will not change the behavior pattern. At least not real, deep, lasting change.

We tend to get into a rage with our self, or waste time blaming people, circumstance, or simply rationalizing the situation. Instead, right at that moment of discovering we are on the wrong track, we could ask our self “What could I have done so that I would not lose my wallet?”

Nothing dramatic, no need to make this a big deal. Just a simple inquiry. When I discover I have lost something, like my keys, I can resolve to find a home for them and always put them away.

Once we discover what would be useful we then need to give our self a clear description of how to change the pattern of what is not working right. Then we need to give our self the instruction to make No exception to this new pattern.

How do we remember to make no exception? By becoming totally committed, body and soul, to staying aware of the new change we are implementing. And by implementing just one step at a time, and staying with it until it becomes automatic.

The key always goes on the hook on to the left of the inside of the front door, even when we are just running back into the house for a couple of minutes. Otherwise we will get distracted and randomly set they key down.

When we allow exceptions we lose the pattern and have nothing to depend upon.

Every bit of time spent in recrimination is time lost to solving the problem. The more frequently we bypass the blame stage and hop over to the solving stage, the more we will view our selves moving forward. This is so obvious; ……….and yet… we neglect the obvious.

It is extremely useful to become problem solvers, not blamers.

©2005 Frances Strassman. Used with permission.