Organizing my office, 1

Ra’al Ki Victorieux

This is the first of a series of articles regarding how to organize my office, and thoughts about clutter, healing, space, beauty, and life. At the beginning of my career, I interviewed various artists based in Chiapas, some Mexican, and others foreign. It seemed to me that many found it difficult to submit an up-to-date and clear life sheet, and a series of images both of themselves and of their work. So I would take photos of them and their work in the studio, and I would make a resume based on the responses they gave to the interview. I knew that the information obtained in a session could not include everything that they might want to tell, but at least it was enough to produce an article for the cultural press. Now I feel on the other side of the coin, although I have published catalogs of my work in visual arts, it is not easy for me to organize and update curricular documents, and research/creation files, and feel proud of my database. To reconcile this conflict, I did some research on the net regarding hoarding, rearranging office spaces, filing cabinets, and professionals who can help. This is how this project began, in which fortunately I have the support and advice of Nacho Eguiarte, an architect by profession with a great passion for organization, the functionality of spaces, and the relationship that human beings have with our possessions.

Organizing my office, 1

I. Making space to create together

In one of the episodes of Dr. Miracle, we can see a familiar drama. Dr. Adil has been living alone during many years. Now he is recovering from a surgery. Her daughter, Ferda wants to help him, even after she feels he abandoned her for years. But Dr. Adil’s house is a trigger for Ferda, everytime she wants to move something, her father has a memory, an emotional reason to let everything as it is. She leaves in anger, saying that all in that house is about his life wihtout her. Later, she receives a box, with pictures of when she was a child, and gifts he had bouthgt for her, but not had the courage to send. Finally, he calls her, and when she returns… She finds an empty living room: Her father made space for her to decide what new furnitures to buy, and more important, what memories create together.

That episode moved me a lot, because it represents an example in which the person manages to let go of many things to open up to the present. I hope I can invite my heart to renew itself.

II. Xíu House

Xíu is a YouTuber I find inspiring, so, now that I am looking for inspiration about how to organize my office, I found a video where she makes a Desk Setup Makeover. It was nice, calm, and beautiful. She organized her desk, and the cables, and cleaned it all. I do not like the trend of separating books by size or color, I need another method that contemplates the content of the material and the use I will have for the information. It is a nice video, but on the other hand, it makes me nervous to think that I’m quite far from doing something like this, hehe.

III. To hoard or not to hoard

Most of us have some tendency to disorganization, the hoarder disorder is not only about «things», it is related to a mental and emotional trauma component. It can be related to depression, anxiety, isolation, etc. To hoard is to accumulate something for preservation, or future use. The more you are worried about the acquisition of something, the more anxious you will feel about letting go of such a thing. There is a spectrum regarding hoarding, on the higher end, we find people diagnosed as having compulsive hoarding disorder, and on the lower side, we find people as collectors.
What do you need things for? Some things resolve physical needs, like food and water. Other things have a symbolic meaning and are required for emotional needs, connection, and security, like a teddy bear, or a gift from a loved one. Certain things respond to mental needs, like the gathering of information, there you find books and document databases, that we think to ensure our success or professional happiness.
In the case of hoarding, it is possible that there was an experience that catalyzed the process, so hoarding is a compensation behavior. Each person has some essential things, like a safety signal in his life, those things which have meaning, and this person considers that cannot be transient or go away. If one or more of these safety signals goes away, it is not replaced, so the person needs something that does not have, and it causes him to feel extremely vulnerable, it is a loss trauma. Every time one of these important things goes away, the event kicks up the original distress.

-I have suffered from the loss of part of my books, when I was a teenager, I lost the comic collection I have gathered for years, spending my Sunday money every week on my favorite cartoon characters. Later, I lost another set of books. I felt powerless as if I had no control over my belongings. This feeling of powerlessness has permeated many other areas of my life, even when consciously I can recognize my achievements in writing and publishing more than 20 books. Now I find it extremely difficult to let go of any of my books. When I read Marie Kondo and she said that you need just a few, or even just the favorite pages of the most important ones, I knew her method was not for me. I am inclined to learn about how to classify them, make an inventory, and if sometimes comes the day when I should let go, find an educational library or art arcade to which to donate or sell my assets.

Hoarding is also related to persons who did not have their needs reliably met during childhood, or growing up. There was not free-flowing nourishing, love, communication, or recognition. Perhaps by constant relocation, by the loss of somebody in their early life, by emotionally negligent parents, or by a fully dysfunctional home. Maybe people give them gifts not as love, but as a form of control and manipulation. Perhaps people -even whit good intentions, but without attunement- hurt them repeatedly. The bottom line is, often, extreme emotional/physical neglect, so they usually believe that people only are capable of thinking about themselves, so, they see people as inconsistent, unreliable, impermanent, and dangerous to attach to. This social phobia makes them suppress part of themselves, as all of us, they want relationships with people, but as they can’t trust them, they rely on their relationships with objects. They believe that needing anything from anyone, is dangerous, and develop a very strong ownership boundary. Some experience «love» from their belongings when these allow them to experience some sense of well-being, that’s one of the reasons why they find it difficult to let old things go. When the person believes that anything could add to his well-being, then loses the decision-making ability to throw stuff away. Sometimes hoarding goes hand in hand with things like compulsive shopping because things seem to be a way to happiness, security, and well-being. The sad core of the issue is that the person does not feel valuable in himself, due to the unhealed childhood neglect, he feels shame, and he perceives himself as something used and discarded, abandoned, even as trash, as something thrown away. That’s why usually they are concerned with not wasting anything. Also, the piles of stuff could be seen as a «protection» against the possible people trying to hurt him. The «others» can take some stuff instead of hurting him directly. To a hoarder, a pile of things can feel cozy, as close as they can get to community, to a promise or future discovery of good things. The organization could feel like emptiness, and cold emotional neglect, so instead of minimalist we find maximalist.
So, when making a decluttering project, it is also necessary to understand that is not about this person is messy, dirty, or lazy -they have simply developed a coping mechanism-, it is about healing the inner child, so the persona stops throwing himself away, it is also important to improve movement systems, and flow. For a hoarder to be able to let go of anything, they have to stop identifying with trash, resolve the self-value trauma, let go of the addiction to the scarcity issue, and the evasion tactics and embrace a new identity of self-love, assertiveness, and flow.

*God bless, I wish you healing and light. I appreciate it if you like or share this post.

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