“Courage is the most important of all virtues because without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.”  Maya Angelou

What, you might ask, does courage have to do with organizing? Without courage it is easy to live in denial, to resist recognizing that organizing, clutter, hoarding, and/or managing time are a problem for you, to not ask for help, and to tell yourself myths about getting your life together ‘someday’. Courage allows making a start on positive change, however small, and sticking to it. Courage enables resisting the comfort of denial and seeing the reality of your situation. The greatest courage is needed to resist self-pity over how much work you must do or what must be given up to do it.

President Franklin Roosevelt got it right: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Fear damages our entire being, keeping us from identifying and taking the right action or impelling us to take the wrong action. Fear leads us to put off important actions and spend time on activities that make no real difference to our lives.

Fear is mental pollution that poisons our…
… bodies, by flooding them with harmful hormones, knotting them up in tension that impedes healthy circulation and flexibility and creates unnecessary pain

… minds, by undermining clear thinking, creativity, insight, and seeing truth

… relationships, by causing us to treat friends as hostiles and hide our true selves
… following our dreams or even knowing what our dreams are, by telling us we might fail, be unable to complete a task, or be overwhelmed by it

… enjoyment of the present moment, by filling us with fears of the future

… mental health, by being defensive which blocks admitting mistakes or ignorance, perceiving reality, or growing because we fear being vulnerable

… peace of mind, by making us unwilling to learn about parts of ourselves or our lives that we fear, including our own mortality

… finances and health, by avoiding learning our true status and what we might have to change to prevent disaster, accept responsibility for, or act on to have a secure future

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear" Mark Twain

Courage is…
… realizing that calm in the midst of life’s ups and downs cannot be achieved by merely wishing for it but by taking consistent small actions to build it

… calming yourself despite distressing events or tasks

… analyzing distressing events or tasks to see how they can be made less painful (not by avoiding tasks that really do need to be done), usually through appropriate preparation or response (many life crises are preventable)

… evaluating situations to choose the best way to respond, not just the fastest, easiest, or least scary

… rejecting fear, panic, upset, or distress as a basis for decision-making or action and not allowing those emotions to propel any reaction that is not in your long-term best interests (this includes any addictive behavior and most procrastination)

… following a rule of kindness always with yourself and others (unkindness is often the result of fear at some level); this is different than people-pleasing, letting others take advantage of you, or tolerating abuse (these behaviors are also usually the result of fear)

… allowing yourself to know and follow your dreams, and daring to take carefully calculated risks for the sake of a major long-term good

… treating every minute as precious and being aware of all your senses, not spoiling your moments with fears or distractions

… admitting mistakes and knowledge gaps (at least with yourself and those closest and dearest to you, and in other settings when it is safe to do so) because you know that you will become a stronger, braver person by doing so

… taking pro-active control of your finances and health, realizing that few situations are ever improved by fear and/or ignorance

It is often said that the way to overcome fears is to face them, but what does this mean and how do you do it? Facing your fears does not mean doing dangerous or distressing activities. It means getting to the bottom of why you fear certain events or actions and realizing that there is usually only a phantom there.

Many people fear organizing because they think they do not have the skills and are afraid they might fail. But this is a false fear – you cannot fail at organizing because every effort can lead greater knowledge of what will create a good system for whatever task is needed. Not perfect – better. Good systems are not created on the first try – they evolve from studying problems and seeing what will make it a little better, then a little better still, and then another improvement until you get a system entirely suitable for your needs. Each time you encounter some aspect of your system that doesn’t work as well as you would like, find a way, however small, to make it at least a little closer to your ideal. The difference between effective systems and organizing and those that do not work is persistently questioning what you are doing and why you are doing it.

© Gloria Valoris, 2014

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