When I give speeches I’m often asked, “What if I’m not the cause of the messiness in my house?”
I first commiserate with the person, because it can be very frustrating to be working hard to maintain order only to have it wrecked by loved ones. Then I make the following suggestions:
1. Control what you can. Clear your clutter. Keep all the areas over which you have control clutter free and organized. When you do that you are shifting energies in a positive direction. Sometimes just that positive shift in energy will affect the behavior of others.
2. Make a request that everyone work together to keep public areas neat and clutter free. Don’t nag. Don’t criticize them for their bad habits. Public areas are the kitchen, family room, living room, dining room. Keeping those areas clear of clutter, neat and organized will help keep interactions between family members peaceful and positive.
3. Give those who are messy a place to be messy. For children, it’s their bedroom. Lay ground rules to avoid health hazards like attracting rodents and other pests with dirty dishes and food. Perhaps come to an agreement about how often the room is to be cleaned–once a month or so? For the spouse, leave the room alone! But, ask for agreement that his/her stuff will not spill out into the public areas.
4. Choose your battles. When clutter does accumulate in public areas, first clean up your part of the mess. Then remind others of the agreement to work together to keep the public areas neat and ask them to remove their belongings. If over time you meet a lot of resistance, or if family members seem to truly be unconscious of the mess they create, let them know that when they do leave personal items in the public areas, you will be moving those items to their rooms. If they object to you moving their things, remind them of the agreement about keeping public areas clutter free. They won’t love you for moving their things, but you’ll be able to continue to love them! And, the public areas will be neater!
5. Refuse to fight and nag and criticize others about their messy ways. Those behaviors do nothing to get your desired results and they do much that is harmful to your relationships. People who are messy usually are less bothered by the negative energy of clutter and disorder. Many of them aren’t even conscious of the whirlwind of stuff that follows them around. Most of them are awesome people, but will never be great at being neat and organized.
Happy Negotiating and Accepting Things You Cannot Change!