It’s St. Valentine’s Day and love is in the air. Have you ever wondered about the origin St. Valentine’s Day? I learned that St. Valentine’s day started out as the Roman Festival of Lupercalia. This festival celebrated the coming of spring among other things. Pope Gelasius replaced it with St. Valentine’s Day at the end of the fifth century. It was celebrated as a day filled with love and romance during the 14th century as it still is today. We often talk about love and romance in terms of couples on Valentine’s Day but today, I’m talking about compassion, forgiveness, and love for yourself.
Automatic Negative Talk
Too often I hear clients use A.N.Ts. (Automatic Negative talk) when they talk about themselves. They put themselves down in truly awful terms for making a mistake. What’s that about? You probably do this from time to time. I know I do. There are those times when I call myself stupid for forgetting something. It upsets me when someone has taken the time to teach me how to do something and then I go and do exactly the opposite. Not because I’m trying to be difficult but because I often operate on automatic pilot. Don’t you? If I’m not mindfully remembering the lesson, it’s easier to follow a regular routine. That’s when I’ll call myself stupid, lazy, an idiot or any other nasty label that comes to mind.
Some of my clients do this, too. They use automatic negative talk and put themselves down when we’ve spent hours (sometimes days) de-cluttering and organizing a space only to completely fill it up again before I return. These clients berate themselves because they have not mindfully practiced the lessons I taught them. They feel guilty and upset with themselves, hence the negative labels. Jonda Beattie and I devote a chapter in our book Filled Up and Overflowing to this topic of negative labels and the reasons people use them.
I teach my clients that practice makes perfect. The more you practice something the more it becomes automatic. If you mess up, forgive yourself, show yourself some compassion, then make it right, and move on. Think about putting some reminders in key places to help yourself remember a specific organizing strategy. There will come a time when you won’t need the reminder anymore and can take it down. Show love for yourself by giving yourself the grace to make mistakes while you learn a new habit. Afterall, you would not berate a friend for making a mistake, would you?
Maintain your home organization
Our home is where we do quite literally everything these days. Many children are being educated at home. We work from home and we exercise at home. Some people have groceries and other supplies delivered so there’s almost no need to leave the house. This makes it more important than ever before to practice routine home organization strategies.
When you maintain the organization in your home, you are showing yourself that you matter. Instead of cleaning up and clearing the clutter before guests come over make those tasks so routine that your home is lovely for you. You are important. Maintaining order in your home creates a peaceful and loving atmosphere. Show love for yourself by making your home organization a priority.
Jonda Beattie and I have created a deck of cards called Organize Your Home 10 Minutes at a Time which turns home organization tasks into a game. Each of the cards has step-by-step instructions to complete 1 task in 10 minutes.
Take care of yourself first
When you board an airplane, and the flight attendant goes through the safety reminders they always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and then help your child. They say this because you can’t take care of someone else if you are struggling.
The same is true for self-care. Make sure you find time for you each and every day. It doesn’t have to be a long time. Sometimes a 15-minute break is enough of a breather to let you regain your equilibrium. Depending on the day, you may need a longer break.
The point is that you honor yourself, do something that makes you happy. You will feel more like giving to the rest of your family if you also take care of yourself.
On this day, St. Valentine’s Day, what are you doing to show love for yourself? Are you indulging yourself and giving yourself a spa day? Maybe you are doing a project around the house that has been on your mind for a while. Do you have a good book sitting beside your bed that you’ve been eager to read?
Whatever it is that you are doing I hope you keep these few things in mind: forgive yourself for your mistakes, dismiss automatic negative thoughts, maintain your home organization because you matter, and always show love for yourself – not just on St. Valentine’s Day.
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Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization. Diane and Jonda Beattie are the award-winning authors of: Filled Up and Overflowing.
Those Automatic Negative Thoughts are so powerful, and they can be hard to release. They are a habit, and since we are with ourselves 24/7, it is hard to get away from them. I love your advice to keep practicing, because all new habits require repetition. We need to develop a different self-message to put in place of the old ones, and then bombard ourselves with those positive messages!
Absolutely, Seana! I love the image of bombarding ourselves with positivity!
Forgiveness is so helpful not just to forgive others but also to forgive ourselves for what we judge ourselves for. I find that saying “I forgive myself for ….” while I am doing my meditation or just sitting quietly in the morning helps me refocus my energy and let go of the negative thoughts so I can move on to other things. It is a life-changer.
What a good idea, Sabrina! I love the mantra “I forgive myself for..” as something to say at either the beginning or end of each day.
I am guilty of negative self talk from time to time. Then, I get upset with myself because of the negative affirmation. It isn’t productive and yes, it’s harmful.
Perhaps we’re harder on ourselves than others. You’re so right though, we need to practice self care. To be kinder and forgiving to our own selves creates more happiness.
I think we are all guilty of negative self-talk from time to time – it’s human nature. I agree that being kinder to ourselves creates a happier atmosphere.
I just had a Twitter conversation with local friends about this. I must have an outsized self-esteem, because I pretty much never use negative self-talk; I think I’m fabulous! 😉 If I make a mistake, I tell myself what I try to teach my clients to say, very much like you wrote, Diane: acknowledge making a mistake, but use it as an opportunity to improve for the future. As for taking care of yourself, I’m hopeful that if people make a habit of caring for themselves in a physical way, they’ll start believing they deserve it in ALL the ways. You make excellent points and give us reminders for how to (self) talk and how to act to show ourselves love.
I love that you don’t engage in negative self-talk and that you let yourself learn from your mistakes. Thank you very much for adding your thoughts to this conversation, Julie!
Extending love and compassion can be so much easier than doing that for ourselves. Yet, it’s essential. I love all the ways you suggested, like saying positive things rather than engaging in negative self-talk. I am guilty as charged because there are times when I go down that adverse road. It’s something I work on. And there are the other ways you suggested like caring for our environment or our physical selves and needs. I’ve gotten better about the self-care piece over these years and incorporate meditation, writing, walking, and yoga into my days. Thank you for the important reminder to extend love and compassion to me.
I love the way you have incorporated meditation, writing, walking and yoga into your days. It makes me very happy to know that you like these important reminders.
Self care is so important these days. You offer great advice. I also think people are looking for ways to take control of their lives and focusing on making their space work is something they can do. Changing your environment to work for you is self care too.
Absolutely, Janet. Making your environment into a peaceful, relaxing place to be is a terrific way to care for yourself.
Your decluttering game… is BRILLIANT! I love love love that idea.
Thank you, Melanie! Just wait for it. It’s coming soon! I am excited to find out what you and the rest of my organizing buddies think of it when they play with it in-person!
Heck, I know I’m fighting a habit of negative self-talk. I have a habit of calling myself lazy, which is ridiculous when I think of all the things I do in a day. I now catch myself. Now, I acknowledge that I choose to be lazy at certain times, and that’s ok because no one should be “go, go, go” all the time.
Oh, Phaedra, you are absolutely right – no one needs to be constantly on the go. Rest and relaxation are just as important as productivity. After all, we all need to refill our tanks in the way that suits each one of us best!