I don’t know about you, but clutter seems to pervade just about every area of my life. Messy house, closets no one dares open, disorganized iPhone apps, too many mental checklists to even count! All that “stuff”–both physical and emotional–really weighs you down. That’s why I dig the latest book by working mom and organizing expert Jennifer Ford Berry, Organize Now! Think and Live Clutter Free: A Week-by-Week Action Plan for a Happier, Healthier Life. Jennifer was kind enough to allow us to share with you a particularly relevant exclusive excerpt from her book: how you can let go of guilt. I think you’ll enjoy it. — Susan
Dictionary.com defines guilt as “A feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.” Guilt can be a powerful motivator, but it can also be a false motivator. Notice the second part of the definition–whether real or imagined. So much of the guilt we feel is imagined. We assume someone’s feelings will be hurt if we say no, so we say yes simply to avoid the possibility of hurting feelings.
It’s easy to take on guilt when you want to get rid of unused items in your house. Seeing waste and clutter reminds you that you didn’t make good use of your resources. But how is holding on to the items that you know you won’t use making amends for not using them in the past?
This week will help you get an accurate perspective of how and why guilt is affecting your life. Until you can see clearly, you cannot change.
This week’s goals:
Reflect on the different areas of your life
(family, health, home, social, work, etc.), one by one, giving careful thought to your actions in that area. Make a list of any actions or things that are causing you guilt.
Evaluate each item on your list, one at a time.
Write down your answers to the following questions and then act on them.
- Is the guilt I feel real or imagined?
- Do I feel guilty due to unrealistic expectations of myself or others?
- What attitude can I change to remove the guilt?
- What action can I take to remove the guilt?
Commit to not doing things or acting in a way that will cause guilt. Experience the freedom of making the right choice this time! If you feel guilt because you continually struggle to make the right choice in a specific area, write down a plan for how you will handle the situation next time. Habits are hard to break because they are automatic responses. A written plan will empower you to break the habit and help you make the right choices one step at a time.
Jennifer Ford Berry is an organizational expert, best selling author, entrepreneur and speaker. Jennifer has been working as a professional organizer for 12 years. Jennifer is the regular organizing expert on the TV show: Winging It, Buffalo Style. You can also find her on her own organizing channel of the smart phone app Intuition: Mom’s Assistant and teaching organization classes through the Organize Academy.
Jennifer has appeared in many national magazines and newspapers, as well as on radio stations across the country. She has presented to the Learning Annex, corporations, churches, mom groups and school districts. Jennifer is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. She currently resides in Western New York with her husband and two children.