Organizing & Kindness

What do organizing and kindness have to do with each other? Read on!

Clients often say “that’s a toss” or “it’s junk” in a dismissive voice when we’re sorting through their stuff. I ask for clarification: “Are you donating that item?”

Because to me, “that’s a toss” or “it’s junk” means the item has no value to the client, and maybe they’re directing me to put it in the trash.

What I’ve learned from asking this clarifying question is that clients use such language as a way of criticizing themselves. By diminishing the value of the object, they are subtly undermining their former self that brought that object into the home.

That’s when I put on my educator’s hat, and ask if they would like to learn a little about negative self-talk and how it undermines our work together. For example: Language use affects our emotions, which affect our neurological wiring. If we use language that has a negative emotional charge, we will “hard wire” our negative emotional thoughts. Subtle self-criticism during the organizing process will slowly erode our self-confidence and self-esteem, and may make the decluttering process itself unpleasant (instead of the great fun that I know it is!).

“Toss that” says “What sort of person would have bought that worthless item?” And “It’s junk” says “What idiot would acquire that junky item?” Imagine saying things like that to yourself for two or three hours. Exhausting, isn’t it?

So I invite clients to re-think how they talk about the items they are discarding. If, instead of “toss that” or “It’s junk,” clients use a neutral phrase such as “let’s give that away” or “I no longer want that,” they will create less “charged” emotions that will then cultivate a neutral attitude about the decluttering process. And becoming aware of how negative self-talk can undermine our self-worth and enjoyment of life often increases clients’ awareness of other ways they criticize themselves. With this new awareness, I ask clients to be curious: How else can they change how they talk to themselves? How can they be kind to themselves?

As my coaching mentors have taught me, awareness is the fundamental building block of change!

About Judith Houlding ADHD Life Coaching, LLC

Judith Houlding is an International Coaching Federation-certified coach. Schedule an exploratory call at 303.817.4424 or email