Shift Your Attitude: What You Say to Yourself Matters

by Alaia Williams

Everyone has flaws. No one is perfect. NO ONE (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!). Beating yourself up for every little thing you do wrong is not going to help your situation. Most of the clients I've worked with have very similar thought processes, regardless of the fact that they range in age, gender, socioeconomic background, nationality, and ethnicity. The clients that just need a little jump start to get the ball rolling are different from the ones who struggle and trudge along in one major way - the way they talk to themselves.

I can usually tell by someone's "self-talk" and the way they explain their situation how they are going to approach the project they've hired me to help them with. Client's who tend to say the following tend to have more success with their efforts:

"I know my situation isn't terrible, but I am not happy with it. I know it could be better and I just need some help to get it done."

"I used to be organized but __________ happened and things got hectic. Things have settled down now and I just need to get things back to normal."

"I'm ready for things to change. I know they can be better."

Clients who express things in the following way also tell me immediately after that any attempts they've made at organizing go awry and they are back at square one:

"This is just too hard. I can't do it."

"I don't know how to be organized. It will never work."

"I don't even bother anymore because I know it won't do any good."

Though I don't think it is appropriate in all situations, I think in this one, the "fake it 'til you make it" method can work.

Rather than saying:

"I can't...." say "I can..." even though you are struggling.

"I don't know how to..." say " I will learn how to...." even if you don't have the answer now - because you can find the answer.

"I wish I had..." say "I will have...." to motivate yourself to accomplish your goal.

"I would like to, but...." say " I will achieve that, and I will do it by...." and think of things you can do to help you get what you want.

It's very rare that anyone accuses me of being an optimist. I actually tend to label myself a "hopeful pessimist." But I have noticed that when I say:

"I can knock those dishes out in a few minutes,"

"I can sort through all the clothes to figure out what to donate with no problem," or

"I can get everything under control,"

I'm much more likely to get through those projects, even though they are things I really don't want to do. When I tell myself I don't have the time, or it will take too much effort to try everything on to see what still fits - well, you would be amazed at how long it takes me to get around to doing those things.

Get a picture in your mind of what you want, and then stop telling yourself you can't have it. If you want an organized house, picture it - and then get real. Tell yourself you can have an organized house, but don't stop there. Take out a piece of paper and list when, where, how, and why you can have it. When you start to come up with some solutions, you can change your situation. Don't settle for "I don't know how...." If you don't know how - who does? Take a class, call your mom, hire an organizer. Get help and change that "I don't know" into "I'll learn how to."

While the suggestions seem simple, their application isn't so easy. If you struggle with negative self-talk and notice that it hinders you from achieving what you want, I invite you to try these things. Be deliberate. Give it a shot - it can't hurt.


Alaia Williams is a Professional Organizer who loves helping people create spaces they can feel good about. You can find out more about Alaia at her website and get more organizing tips at the One Organized Life Blog.

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