The School of Sustainable Self-Improvement founder, Bizzie Gold, recently posted 3 habits to change your life if you struggle with disorganization. She directed the post towards those who are scattered or live chaotic existences.
Honestly, that’s not this author. I color-code my wardrobe and alphabetize my books.
But the post got me thinking.
I’m more concerned with the reason some of us attract disorganized and chaotic people into our life.
CHAOS OR CREATIVITY EXPRESSION?
Without digressing into a lecture on temperament or personality, at least half of the planet prefers a relaxed approach to life. I think Bizzie identified those people as “spontaneous.” Experts in personality assessment would use Jungian terms like Perceiver: a person who prefers the process to closure, who prefers open-ended to closed-ended.
Spontaneous people are more likely to take risks, change plans, and improvise. Organized people - or Judgers - are more likely to have his or her clothing arranged in the closet in rainbow order. Organized people use planners and lists. They need schedules and appointments.
I think we have to differentiate between a temperament preference and an unconscious brain pattern.
While some temperaments prefer the go-with-the-flow lifestyle, and others prefer structure and order, either can have a chaotic life because of negative, unconscious brain patterns for which Break Method can famously eliminate!
Mark likes his job as a consultant. He has new clients every day - and new, interesting projects. No day is the same. He gets up when he wants. Vacations on a whim. No schedule, no plan. And he offers creative services - so he can adapt and change. His projects are often ongoing for any client - changing with management directives.
Betty likes her job as a consultant. She has a book of business and offers one line of services: bookkeeping. Every day is the same, and she works 9 to 5. She takes her vacation the third weeks of April, August, and December. She keeps to her lists, her Calendy appointments, and her business plan.
Neither describes a chaotic or self-sabotaging lifestyle. But how about:
Stacy, who is starting her third job this year. She misses appointments, loses records, forgets deadlines. Each time she seems to do well or achieves something goes wrong.
At least that’s how she sees it.
And with Stacy, we see someone with unconscious brain patterns that result in self-sabotage and a chaotic existence.
I answered the phone, even though I didn’t want to speak with the woman I will call “Martha.” I knew it would be another call about how hard her life is, what went wrong today, how bad things were for her. Homelessness. Broken water pipe. Missing grandson (who was later found at a friend’s house). She personally has had two jobs in the past six months. She had one kitchen fire. Financial problems. Her husband has unresolved sexual issues. All in a single phone call.
Like a soap opera character, Martha’s life is in constant turmoil. Her chaos has nothing to do with temperament and everything to do with her own (and her family’s) chronic self-sabotage!
One would think I would mentally criticize Martha. As a Break Method grad, I have NO criticism for those suffering from his or her unconscious brain patterns. For those people, I have only compassion and a referral to Break Method.
For this article, and in the spirit of Break Method’s famous Radical Personal Responsibility, I am more apt to wonder about my behavior than to criticize another person. As the forty minutes of my listening to Martha’s string of rants concluded and I placed my cell phone on my desk, I asked myself:
Why do I answer the phone when she calls?
What does speaking with her do for me?
I asked myself those questions later that day, when I received a call from the woman I will call “Gloria.” Her business is always about to go bankrupt. Another cashier stealing from the register. She slipped and fell when an incompetent employee failed to mop up spilled soda. And her home life is no better. She “forgets” to eat. She adopted a cat which one of her dogs killed. So she adopted another two cats.
You can guess the result there.
My questions arose again. My world is crisis junkies, drama queens, histrionic, and melodramatic relations compelled to share their three-ring circuses with me.
So, I asked myself the two questions and added one more:
What am I doing that invites them to share these daily reports?
I bet you’ve wondered the same things. I would like to believe that I am a good listener. That I am caring. That I am compassionate. I feel as if I need to help everyone.
I fear the tribe is failing, and I must step up and save everyone. Indulging in their crisis allows me to experience my emotional pattern: Panic Attack Time!
If I help a chaos crisis junkie, even if I merely listen and acknowledge, I feel important, I feel validated, I feel like a “good person.”
But the sacrifice of my time and attention for those who take zero personal responsibility, who do not change, who do not make an effort to alter his or her situation, harms me.
And RIGHT THERE my unconscious brain pattern rears its ugly head!
To feel loved and safe, my pattern requires my tolerating - even supporting - the chaos junkie.
And the chaos junkie needs me as part of his or her brain pattern.
This is an example of what we Break Method grads call symbiotic dysfunction. Each individual’s negative, unconscious brain patterns feed, validate, and reinforce the other person’s negative, unconscious brain patterns.
Graduating Break Method doesn’t mean the nature of existence changes. It means your approach to existence changes!
So, these little life lessons never end!
First, realize YOU are not responsible for the safety of the entire tribe (world population). If the action or inaction violates your boundaries, say so.
Martha relates her weekly diatribe of bad news - which triggers your “save everyone” pattern (or triggers your “have to suffer this miserable call so Martha loves you pattern).
Try: “Hey, Martha. Tell me some good things that happened this week.”
Or: “Martha, I am sorry for your pain - but I’m sure you have some good news, too!”
Or: “Hey, Martha. Love you so much, but I’m not feeling up to listening to the bad news digest. How about we talk tomorrow when you are feeling better?
Can you listen to another’s crisis-drama without being triggered into your emotional addiction cycle? Yes. But here’s the key: If you are “tolerating” or “agreeing” with the chaos and crisis, you are teetering on jumping back in to your pool of unconscious brain pattern mess.
Don’t do it.
Obviously, using a patronizing tone is a red cone (feeds the other person a trigger). Also, not the route to respectful, peer language and healthy relationship. Yet, trying to save, cure, fix the other’s chaos is a sure route to our own spiral.
What do we do with Gloria?
“Gloria. We’ve been friends for a long time - and I love you dearly and treasure our relationship. But the chaos is hard to watch. I’m willing to be here and help you take the steps to get stable and healthy. If not, I’m going to need to take a break from our conversations.”
Honesty. Boundaries. And respect for the other person - and yourself.
You can also send your Martha and Gloria friends to ✅ check out the Break Blog “Abdicate The Self-Sabateur Throne: Love Your Best Life.”
Or…really love the other person and tell him or her: JUST START BREAK ALREADY.