Throughout life people are constantly telling us that we should be less of this and more of that. At what point do you decide for yourself?
It is only now as an adult that I realise that I like being organised. That being organised brings me a certain sort of calm.
When I was younger if I was anxious about something I would often rearrange my bedroom furniture, or organise all the clothes in my cupboard.
At work my manager once pointed out that during calls on busy days I would often stand up and start organising everything on my desk. My husband told me he could tell when I was stressed as I would start organising all the drawers and cupboards in the house.
I didn’t notice any of this myself. It was done unconsciously. When it was pointed out to me I started to become more conscious of the fact that I did indeed like to be organised. That I often enjoyed the planning of the party more than the party. That re-organising all my drawers made me feel so good, so so good! I am the person who has an excel sheet for holiday packing.
People would say that I planned too much and that I should ‘relax’. But what these people didn’t realise was that planning was my way of relaxing.
However, constantly hearing people say this, I started to think, hmm maybe I should try to change. Maybe I should plan and organise less. But whenever I tried it would feel horrible it just went against the grain for me. But I felt that I would be a ‘better’ person if I could change.
So why do we need to change?
The fact is, we as people assume that everyone is like us. That the people we spend time with also think like us and function the same as us. But this is not the case at all. We may have a lot in common and enjoy each other’s company, but how we function is very different. So when I would think about the people who would say I should ‘relax’ more, they are people that function in a totally different way to me.
For them, seeing how organised I was would stress them out, as much as me seeing how unorganized they were would stress me out!
I could not imagine that they could be happy or satisfied living in such a way, but at the same time, they would be thinking exactly the same about me. So they would be telling me that I should be less organised, because for them, they could not possibly imagine that this was a good way to live.
Because fundamentally, we all think people are the same as us so we’re trying to save each other from what we see as an unhappy existence.
My biggest mistake was trying to be something I wasn’t
The older I got, the more I got to know myself, and through sessions with my own coach I discovered that I am ok with who I am. I don’t need to change this part of me, but I do need to find a way to communicate with people who do function differently. To be aware that not everyone likes to be as organised as me.
For example, my husband and I are very different. He hates planning and so when discussing upcoming events with him, we have to find a compromise. He has to understand that I find calm in planning, but I have to understand, that he wants some options left open. By understanding that we function in different ways we are able to communicate much better with each other.
As soon as you start to understand that people function differently, you can start to understand why they may have a problem with a part of you that they feel is too much. As soon as you start hearing people saying you’re too much of something, this is an indicator that they are at opposite ends of the spectrum. And rather than defend yourself try to understand them.
Is there a negative impact?
The only time you should look at adjusting this part of you, is if you see there is a negative impact on your life. And even then, it may not be the act itself, but how you handle the situation when things don’t go your way.
For example, for me I now recognise that being organised brings me calm. I don’t need or want to change this part of me. However when things do not go to plan, I can get thrown off course and it can cause me to negatively spiral. So I have to work on dealing with change. How do I make sure I don’t spiral.
Understanding this about myself has made me a much happier person, as I am able to accept who I am and enjoy this part of me. I also see all the great things it brings to my life, and it is actually a huge strength of mine. I’m no longer embarrassed about it. By accepting this part of me I know how to use it to my advantage.
So what are you too much of that is really your strength?
If you feel you need to change this part of you, ask yourself why you think this? Is it driven by what people say? Who are these people? Do they function differently to you? Is there a negative impact on your life? If so, what changes can you make?
Or is this actually one of your strengths and you should embrace it….?