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Why Self-Compassion Can Help You Combat Disorganization (And A Toolkit To Get You Started)

February 4, 2024

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Hello, I'm Jen
As a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization® (CPO-CD®), I am uniquely qualified with the knowledge and experience to help you with ADHD issues, hoarding, chronic disorganization, and aging. 

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 “Why am I so disorganized and messy?” 

“I can’t keep up with anything.” 

“I’m such a failure.” 

Do you often say these things to yourself? 

You’re not alone. We can be so hard on ourselves, and sometimes our internal dialogue gets so loud, we start believing these things to be true. 

It’s time for a little self-compassion. 

From this moment on (or at least for the remainder of the time it takes you to read this article), no more being critical of yourself. 

Here’s the thing, I understand these thoughts – it’s so difficult being stuck in a way of life that you feel unable to pull yourself out of.

But you’re capable and worthy of change. 

More to that point, you’re worthy by simply existing. In all your faults and all your mess, you’re still worthy, and learning a little self-compassion may be the key to what helps you set real change in motion. 

When it feels like too much: disorganization on the brain

Life can be so overwhelming, and when you hit the brink of it all, it’s hard to know where to turn – especially when you’re surrounded by disorganization and chaos. 

The clutter, the to-do lists…every pile that builds just weighs you down further.

You fall so far behind on things and completely exhaust yourself with the thought of even trying to keep up, so the disorganization continues, and there you are – stuck in this never-ending loop, utterly overwhelmed…

and you’re so hard on yourself. 

But it’s not just you – it has a lot to do with how the brain works. 

To put it simply, your mind favors order and focusing on one task at a time. During situations of disorder and overstimulation, your brain is sent into a state of needing to compete for attention (also known as cognitive overload).  

This leads to anxious thoughts that trigger an exaggerated stress response in the brain, sending you into freeze mode. This is when it feels impossible to do anything – you quite literally feel frozen. In turn, you grow frustrated and stir up critical thoughts. 

The biggest thing to remember is that these thoughts don’t define who you are as a person, and with the right approach, you can take back control of that overwhelm and harness the power of your mind – and it all starts with self-compassion. 

The power of self-compassion: what it is and what it’s not  

The truth is, our world and its busyness is not set up to protect our mental health in the ways it should, and this is why we must be intentional about tuning in with ourselves.

Now I know what you may be thinking…

“Yeah, yeah…I’ve heard all of this before”…

“Think positive thoughts”… “it’s mind over matter” … “you are what you think”… 

But that’s not what self-compassion is about. It’s not about feeling good all the time and reciting positive thoughts, it’s about accepting (even welcoming) what is painful and difficult and extending the kindness and compassion that you need (and deserve) to navigate those challenges. 

With self-compassion we mindfully accept that the moment is painful, and embrace ourselves with kindness and care in response, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience”. – Neff 2019 

Self-compassion is: 

-acknowledging the hard things

-naming your difficulties and struggles without judgment 

-being supportive and understanding of your experience 

-showing yourself care and self-kindness 

-remembering that we are all human and feel this way at times 

It’s treating yourself with the same regard that you would a good friend. 

And isn’t that interesting? How we find it so easy to support a friend in this way, yet find it challenging to extend that same level of kindness to ourselves. Why do we do this? 

It comes from a common misconception that self-compassionate thinking is “self-indulgent”, “lazy”, or “letting yourself off the hook”. We’ve been conditioned to think that acting tough is what drives motivation, but being hard on ourselves can actually be counterintuitive, and the research is there to prove it.

The truth is, there is some truly transformative power behind self-compassion. 

Studies show that self-compassion develops a growth mindset more accepting of struggles and setbacks, and this builds the level of resilience needed to make lasting change in your life.  

The reality is, we all hit struggles. 

Even the most productive people are not impervious to pain and struggle. Tuning into self-compassion is what builds up your ability to push through some of your most difficult moments. It allows you to say “Hey, this is really challenging, but I am not alone in feeling this way, and I can come out on the other side of this.”

 It helps you to feel better about yourself, and in turn, fuels your desire to work toward your goals for you rather than some external reward. This type of intrinsic motivation is what builds on itself and continues to push you forward. 

Regularly practicing self-compassion can truly change your life. 

How self-compassion will SHiFT your life  

When disorganization is controlling your life and making change feel impossible, the SHiFT Method can help you gain the traction needed to make lasting transformation. 

What makes it so effective?

It’s rooted in self-compassion.

Unlike other methods of transformation that are formed around rigidity and an all-or-nothing mindset, the  SHiFT Method fosters change by building a foundation around feeling worthy and deserving, while still challenging you in a compassionate way. 

This doesn’t only benefit your life in terms of combatting disorganization, it transcends into all facets of life. 

Here are some ways that your life can SHiFT when you practice self-compassion: 


By being more compassionate with yourself, you open yourself up to a more mindful state and invite more calm into your life. You start to see who is deserving of your time, and surround yourself with those who lift you up. 


Through self-compassion, you learn to sit with your feelings and support yourself through them, accepting all of them as they are rather than turning to vices such as overeating, alcohol, or doom scrolling. 


Self-compassion itself is rooted in self-worth, and they drive one another. Having a strong sense of self-worth will help gain momentum in all other areas of change.  


By taking time to turn inward compassionately, you’re able to enhance the practice of making more mindful financial decisions. 


When you’re more self-compassionate, you become more intentional with your time, enabling you to break free from the freeze mode that shame can place you in. 

This all sounds great, doesn’t it? 

But what if you don’t know where to start when it comes to practicing self-compassion? 

A mini-toolkit: 6 steps to self-compassion 

The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed in your journey, I want you to try these small steps in turning inward. And remember, even the smallest actions can make a monumental difference. 

1. Take belly breaths 

Science shows that diaphragmatic breathing brings you back to baseline by decreasing anxiety and allowing you to think with clarity. This is important during times of high stress.

2. Write down the critical chatter 

We all have an internal dialogue that puts a voice to our thoughts, and when those thoughts get critical, it helps to write them down. Putting them on paper makes them less threatening, and helps you to acknowledge how you’re feeling.  

3. Befriend yourself 

Look at the words you wrote down. Now imagine them being said out loud and directed toward someone you love dearly. How does that make you feel? Write those feelings down, and be as honest as possible. 

4. Debunk the internal-critic 

Take those phrases and recognize them as feelings, not as facts. Tell yourself “It’s ok that I feel this way, it’s understandable, but it doesn’t define me as a person and it’s not who I am.”

Re-write those phrases in a supportive and compassionate way, and repeat them out loud to yourself. 

5. Write down something you’ve done well today 

It can be something small. Did you make yourself a nourishing breakfast this morning? Did you have a glass of water? Take whatever it was and glamorize it. “I fed my body what it needed 

because I care for myself when I need it, and I will continue to do so because I deserve it.”…” I decluttered this small space because it helps me to think more clearly, and clarity in my thoughts matters”. 

6. Choose an affirmation 

“I release critical and judgmental thoughts” 

“I deserve all that is good” 

“My setbacks do not limit me” 

Choose one of these or make one of your own and repeat it throughout the day. If other uninvited thoughts come to mind, it’s ok! You’re human and the human mind is filled with thoughts both warranted and not. Simply notice them as they come, and let them pass. Drown it out with the affirmation. This will become easier over time. 

Just start 

Start somewhere, anywhere. Whether you’re kickstarting your journey to combat disorganization or in a state of rest, start practicing self-compassion on the daily. As soon as you start feeling overwhelmed or hear that internal chatter criticizing your shortcomings, choose self-kindness. 

The more you build this up, the easier and more natural it will become, and you’ll start to see an amazing SHiFT  in your life. 

The SHiFT you deserve.

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