What does your disorganization or clutter give you?

I ask this question in my New Client Form, and inevitably people answer, “Nothing! I hate it! My disorganization is all bad, all the time!” But I have realized through reading and observation that generally, unless forced, people do what they want to do. So if you are disorganized, you are maintaining this living style for a reason.

The simplest and most surface reason may be that you have simply prioritized other things, and wind up having no time or energy left over for organizing or cleaning, so your answer would be “My disorganization gives me more time to spend on other things that are more important to me.”

But often it goes even deeper. Your disorganization may be a way of rebelling against a parent’s pristine housekeeping style. You may surround yourself with things to keep yourself feeling safe. You may envision yourself as a “creative person” who must therefore have a messy house, because in your mind that’s how creative people live. You may be keeping things around in order to project an image of who you are, to yourself and/or other people, because you think you are not good enough or interesting enough on your own, without your things. You may be using your clutter or disorganization to subconsciously keep yourself from succeeding (and hence failing) at various activities or life goals. You may be using it to distract yourself from problematic issues.

So if you feel that you have a problem with disorganization or excessive clutter, it would be very helpful to think about this aspect. Otherwise, “organizing” is only treating the symptoms and not the cause of the problem.