My Room Shouldn’t Be So Messy (Oh, Really?)

My daughter is home from college, so I took all the clothes I had been storing in her closet and dumped or threw them in a huge pile in my bedroom.

That was 6 days ago.  (I’m considering whether or not to post a photo so you can see the extent of it).

This afternoon I walked in to rest a bit–even hoping to get a quick nap.  The thought came to me, “My room shouldn’t be so messy.”

The problem wasn’t the thought, it’s that I believed it. My mind went on a field day, and the usual reactions in my body followed suit.  Forget the nap; I was momentarily lost in monkey-mind hell:

“I should clean this room.  It’s been way too long. I can’t even walk in here. What is wrong with me? I’m doing too much.  It just reflects inner chaos.  It’s bad Feng Shui—no wonder I feel tired.  It’s an energy drain.  I’m going to get sick.  What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I get it together?  I can’t be a spiritual teacher when I don’t take time to create peace and order in my own room. Yada, Yada, Yada….”

Then I went to a VERY spiritual place.

I began to observe my thinking.

And then I went even further than just observing–to the part you don’t hear too much about–the part I find to be the most spiritual of all.

I let my mind take a second look at its scary stories, within a safe structure.

I lovingly question it in a way that allows it to re-educate itself to all it ‘DOESN’T REALLY KNOW.”   I don’t wrestle the stories to the ground; I meet them where they live.

After decades of believing this tired litany, “My room shouldn’t be so messy,” my consciousness and curiosity meet this innocent but groundless fabrication halfway–where they live in my mind and body– to finally ‘take a look.’

I begin to see through the stories—one by one—for myself (someone else telling me would only work if I believed them; this is much more efficient):

  • I see that the room should not be any cleaner than it is;
  • I see that I should not clean it unless I do… or until I do;
  • I see that the piles are not inherently draining my energy; it’s my belief that they could;
  • I see that leaving my room this way was a choice I made to support myself and others;
  • I see that the piles are supporting me in their silent perfection; bolstering me up during an intense time;
  • I see that the only thing hurting me is believing my thought that my room or my choices ‘should be’ different.

My heart opens to myself and to this blessed scene as I sit here typing, surrounded by piles of clothes.  It’s cozy. I start to breathe again. I am fully supported by my friends, the colorful, nurturing piles. It’s FUN!

Given the questions to which it is so responsive, and a patient listener, mind discovers lots of other potential interpretations–“truths”– besides those it has habitually attached to. It starts to notice there is nothing inherently wrong with this moment, and some deeply worn pathways start to get re-routed.

ONE Story behind All the Pain

Comparing what we HAVE in this moment to what our minds tell us we SHOULD HAVE in this moment is the source of all emotional pain….

Of depression, as we pile more and more of the comparison thoughts on and weigh ourselves downOf chronic pain and illness, as we hold those parts of us that truly believe reality should be different in a resistant pattern that affects all kinds of internal processes…  Of addiction, because we can’t stand the pain of what we are telling ourselves, so we look to anesthetize it with drama or food or substances…. Of relationship pain, as we believe we need ourselves or the one in front of us to show up a certain way for us to be OK……

The terrorizing thoughts are innocent. It is our sweet child-like mind’s basic effort to gain control; to make us feel safe by convincing us that it knows what is best.  Here is the innocent the mother of all the others:


That is the basic thought at the root of ALL emotional pain and unwanted reactions—NOT anything that is happening, but the thought that something else would be better.

Look to see if you can find a painful moment in your life that doesn’t have THAT comparison thought in it.  Pointed at someone or something–especially yourself.

“This room should be cleaner than it is.”

What an absurd thought. How could it be any cleaner than it is in this moment?  That doesn’t mean it can’t be made cleaner in the next moment, but for now, that thought is COMPLETELY WITHOUT FOUNDATION. A MEANINGLESS FABRICATION OR HYPOTHESIS.  IT IS NOTHING, WITH NO BEARING ON ANYTHING.  Until we believe it.

With practice, the ‘seeing’ is fast.  The story is gone. The angst subsides. My relationship to the piles of clothes and to myself–or who ever I think should show up differently than they are–is restored to sanity.

The piles or others are no longer the enemy; I am no longer a complete loser.

I didn’t affirm over it.  I didn’t ignore it.  My inquiry into it didn’t take two hours; THIS meditation was two minutes to a friendly world (although it could have taken two hours when I first started, and it’s very sweet and SUPER productive when I do take two hours–which I often do with clients–to go down the deepest hole my mind wants to take me to retrieve another lost piece of my heart).

And—HA!  Now I notice my mind just won’t go there any more—to that place where I look at the clothes and collapse inside.  I can’t find a ‘beating myself up’ for this any more.

The jig is up.   It has seen enough other sides to this story that it simply doesn’t attach to any of them.   It works the same way for far more serious issues. “Don’t-know” mind is a happy place to live; open to this grand unfolding; honest that we don’t really have a clue what would ultimately be better, and realizing that’s OK.

Quite mind, I am now free to rest for a while.  Then I notice myself getting up and cleaning my room.


I’d love to hear from you if you want to leave comments!  xox

6 thoughts on “My Room Shouldn’t Be So Messy (Oh, Really?)”

  1. I moved to NY about a month ago. I am living amid boxes and tubs. Some things are organized, some not. I keep telling myself that I SHOULD be farther along in the process of unpacking. I am going to my 50th high school reunion today. Should I just stay here and unpack? An easy escape from the emotional turmoil I feel at the thought of going. A lot of, “What SHOULD I wear?” This reunion is a huge unknown. I haven’t been in touch with any classmates. I have no one to sit with. I have a hope to reconnect with people who live here. It is an adventure, a fun outing. I’ll wear what I wear, my hair will be my hair. If that is all that matters then I will make other friend elsewhere. I tell yself to go and have fun.

  2. Hi Shawn: Thanks for your first webinar. It’s interesting to learn that there’s a different way of looking at yourself through various situations. My hope is to learn more of the concepts you are teaching us so that I can heal mentally, forgive myself and be more forgiving of my partner, especially when we are at odds. I logged on late so I did not hear the first part but hopefully, I can replay the video, if it has that feature.
    With your help, maybe I can get pass my anger in my current situation. Thank you.

  3. Should the room be cleaner if the mess is preventing you from finding things that you know are there?

  4. Perfect for me! These thoughts about my mess, my clutter , and my partner’s mess and clutter has caused me lots of angst! And a lot of relationship problems due to my judgments, blame, demands, anger. Her fault! Again!!
    Thank you for sharing!

Comments are closed.