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I’ve stopped ignoring my messy chair (how to recognise when you are feeling overwhelmed)

2 Heart it! Marie O'Sullivan 212
June 17, 2018
Marie O'Sullivan
2 Heart it! 212

Cue sinister music. I’m staging an intervention and reclaiming the messy chair as a space to park my delectable bottom. You know that chair, you probably have one just like it, omitting heavy sighs of martyrdom as you callously load it up with clothes and random paper. It’s the one that glares balefully at you as you dump things on it. It’s the one that you wince at when it comes to your attention. It’s the one that laughs bitterly as you blithely lurk in Facebook groups for minimalists. Noone can see the messy chair so you can cunningly pretend it doesn’t exist (you feel slightly guilty about this, but reassure yourself that it’s better than having a floordrobe). Yes, I wrote that in the third person, but I am of course referring to myself.  


How did this terrible atrocity manifest I hear you ask? Well, pull up a chair (you’ll have to provide your own I’m afraid) and I will disclose all. I had a busy week. Despite listening to Marie Kondo on repeat (naturally, I bought the audiobook, so I wouldn’t have to declutter the physical copy) I didn’t internalize the message about tidying daily. I nod sagely along when others extol the benefits of Feng Shui. I can thank Flylady for the period of my life when I had a very shiny sink. I even know about the psychological benefits of decluttering as I’m a counselor.  


That chair is a manifestation of all the little choices I made to procrastinate instead of taking action because I was “too busy”.  I seriously contemplated taking a photo and filtering it before posting it on Instagram, but that won’t resolve the matter satisfactorily. Procrastination is a sneaky saboteur, it nefariously whispers in my ear and tries to convince me of the merits of its insidious messaging. It’s not going to foil me this time.  Instead, I will have to put on my big girl pants and deal with the chair.


I know that you are familiar with the concept of the chair. We all have one. Granted, your “chair” might not be a chair at all.  Let’s dive deeper and explore what I really mean.


The messy chair is indicative of the fact that I need to review and tweak my schedule. It is a representation of overwhelm. Let’s not get started on my purse. To the casual observer, I am a tidy person.  My kitchen is spotless, the bathroom is beautifully scrubbed, the lounge is impeccable, my bins are empty. I find it interesting that the chair is in the one room that very few see, the bedroom. Outwardly I reign supreme, yet inwardly I have been feeling a little swamped. The visual mess has an impact on my mindset, a nagging reminder that this pocket rocket needs to pause.


I first got interested in decluttering and its impact on our psychological well-being when I hit burnout. I realized that I needed to put systems in place where cleaning happened almost on autopilot. I felt overwhelmed when faced with a mammoth task. I didn’t have the energy to do an intensive decluttering. I needed to slowly tiptoe my way through the process. Luckily for me, the chair situation is salvageable. As soon as I finish this post I’ll whip through that job and revel in my accomplishment. I will also monitor the situation and stop ghosting my chair.


To clarify, the chair is obviously a metaphor for self-care. Sadly, confusion has emerged about what constitutes self-care due to vague witterings on certain social media platforms. It’s not always about expensive spa breaks or yoga retreats (although both can be amazing). Sometimes, it’s about tackling the minor annoyances that grind your gears and take up valuable mental space. Noone is suggesting that you dedicate an entire weekend to dusting your window sills, but it could be helpful to tackle your own messy chair equivalent. This isn’t about perfectionism, or beating yourself up, it’s looking at how we can embrace simplicity and ease.


At this point, you may well wonder how I will amuse myself with the headspace I reclaim by putting things away. Myriad options present themselves. I might be lured into going for walkies with my bichon frise. She photobombed my picture, she’s that kind of dog.  I could be persuaded to dance badly as I warble along to an 80’s classic rock tune. Whatever I choose will be preferable to feeling vaguely guilty about a pile of clothes that I can’t be bothered to hang up.


I would love if this post has given you pause to reflect on how you are treating yourself. I urge you to think about what your personal indicators are that you might be feeling stressed. What simple shifts could you implement? What easy wins could you achieve?  


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2 Heart it! Marie O'Sullivan 212
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