Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Managing our Minds -- Let's Get Organized


Did you know that a tidy house may actually help your child to learn to read earlier? Does that though make you sigh, "I already have enough trouble keeping my house neat and orderly. Here's another reason to feel bad about it!"? If so, don't worry. We're all learning together here to manage our time and our homes well. Our goal is not to be perfect, but to provide an atmosphere in the home that is generally orderly.

Managing our time, physical possessions and other resources well begins in our minds. This is especially true when it comes to clearing away clutter in order to attain peaceful surroundings.

Life Coach Tanya Leigh says, "What I’ve noticed in my life, as well as in the life of my clients, is that once they begin to clear the mind clutter, the house clutter almost always follows effortlessly, and as the household clutter begins to clear, the mind follows suit. It is an inverse relationship, one directly affecting the other."

She also says, "A woman’s home is a good measure of her life. The home has the ability to tell thousands of little secrets that a woman herself would never reveal, even to her closest friends. However, the evidence can be found on her walls, in her closets and cabinets, on the shelves of her fridge and pantry, and any other crevice of her abode. I’ve seen this correlation over and over in my own life and in every person that I have coached. Do you know what your home says about you and are you ready for it to tell a new story?"

Currently, my house is whispering (or shouting) to others that it needs some attention. What is yours telling the world? In the end, it doesn't matter what the world thinks it sees in our homes. We are keeping a home not for anyone's opinion, but for God and our families. Our goal is not to be a people-pleaser in the sense of deriving our worth from what people think, but people-servers, who respond to others out of love and faithfulness to duty.

Having said that, reading the message in our own house can help us know ourselves better. It can help us become better managers of our homes. It can help us erase any destructive messages written in our homes and replace them with brand new ones. In aiming for excellence in the home, this is where we must begin.

What attitudes write destructive messages in our home?

1) Trusting in things rather than trusting in God. We fear to let go of clutter. We hold on to things well past their usefulness. We hold on to things we don't need now because we think that we might need it someday. Often, the things we fear to toss for this reason are items that could be easily replaced, but, still, we hold on to them. We forget that our Lord told us that our lives do not consist in the abundance of our possessions.
2) Sentimentality. This is one of my bug-a-boos. We hold on to things because we associate them with the people who gave them to us or with some happy memory. Surprisingly, many people who are highly sentimental about objects will also hold onto things associated with painful memories. They may also hold onto things out of guilt, for fear of hurting the feelings of someone associated with those things. Obviously, we free our minds when we get rid of things associated with pain. When it comes to guilt over something someone gave us, we must ask ourselves if that person really wants us to be burdened with something that we don't want or need. With things associated with happy memories, we can find other ways to retain the memories. Perhaps, we could take pictures of the items to store in a memory book. Or, we could journal our memories.
It's fine to keep some things out of sentimentality. In fact, sweet little treasures and heirlooms add charm to a home. It's when your collection of sentimental items gets out of hand that you run into problems. At that point, it's time to do an edit.
3) Procrastination and laziness: Sometimes, we look at the clutter in our homes and become so overwhelmed that we don't know where to begin. Or, we may not really enjoy house keeping chores. Perhaps, we are physically run down or slightly depressed, and we just want to ignore the clutter building up around us. Every job has routine duties that must be done whether we feel like doing them or not. Getting started and making some progress will actually make us feel more energized and happy than putting off chores we don't like.
4) All or nothing attitude (perfectionism): We make ourselves miserable over what we don't accomplish. Therefore, if we are feeling overwhelmed, we don't even start. Even doing a little tidying each day, along with a little de-cluttering is beneficial to a home. So, if you are in circumstances where you can't get it all done in one day, at least do what you can do. The results may not be material for Home Beautiful, but it will keep us on track in our journey to a well-managed home.
5) We may be so focused with worries or conflicts that we can't concentrate on our work:
Learning how to work through problems and painful feelings is an important skill in life. Sometimes, our emotional distress needs deeper attention. In the main, however, we need to cultivate habits of peace and trust so that our minds are not habitually and needlessly divided by things like anxiety and depression.

What are attitudes that write positive messages in our homes?

1) Love. Loving God and loving others provides an intrinsic (internal) motivation to care for our homes and our families. That doesn't mean that just because we love, we will always wake up with a great desire to attend to household duties. But, it does mean that we will make choices in keeping with what we love and value most.
2) Faith -- It takes fortitude and stamina to be a woman of excellence in the home. What keeps us going sometimes is faith expressing itself in love.
3) Mental Discipline -- Focusing our thoughts on things that are pure, noble, good, and uplifting will fuel our inner motivation. A peaceful mind can focus on tasks and do them with attentiveness.
4) Prayer, praise, and thanksgiving: We need grace, mercy, wisdom and strength from the Lord to manage our homes well.
5) Willingness: The excellent woman in Proverbs 31 was willing and eager to do her tasks. We become more willing when we reflect on the worth of what we do and our reasons for doing what we do. That brings us back to #1, which is love.

Happy Home Keeping!

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