Your home tells your story. Simply put, it is a reflection of who you are, what’s going on for you, your state of mind and even your past.
It shows us something about ourselves:
Ø For someone who is overwhelmed or in crisis, the home is likely to become cluttered and disorganised as tasks and projects accumulate. It can also become purely functional with attention being paid only to those areas needed to survive.
Ø For someone who is not yet who they desire to be, the home is likely to be filled with objects for the ‘future them’, books they intend to read, clothes that fit with their ideal image of themselves, products not yet used.
Ø For someone who has had a change in their identity, they may emphasise their previous role through their environment, holding on to memorabilia of that lost time. A change in a professional role may show up as a bookcase of literature that reflects this highly valued previous status. A change in circumstances may present as a collection of photos that showcases that bygone era.
Ø For someone who feels out of control, the environment may become the place where control is imposed. This makes for a clinical environment which is surveyed through fault-finding eyes. Ultra-clean or object-free spaces may reflect a fastidious need to govern.
Ø For someone with high self-worth, the environment is likely to be a treasure trove of valued possessions, and a sanctuary given over to pleasure, meaning and self-care.
Notice how your home changes when you change
Have you ever noticed how your environment changes when a change occurs in you or your life? This is when instead of clearing the bed from the overspill of the day, the clothes and personal affects get assigned to a nearby chair and added to until there is a small mountain of items to be sorted through. Or a challenge at work can mean papers, books and emails are not dealt with and instead amass to form piles of clutter that add to the mental stress we are already processing. Healthy food gets left to rot in the fridge as we dial for delivery while we're labouring under difficult emotional states. Extreme changes can occur when, for example, someone falls into addiction and their home becomes dirty and dishevelled, the neglect for themselves being mirrored in neglect towards their environment.
Your home can become the problem or the solution
As we’ve seen above, the home becomes a manifestation of the inner state, but then it controls us. The wardrobe of clothes we cannot wear brings on a mood of depression or sadness as they remain unseen on their hangers. The paint from an unstarted project that has been left on the side becomes a reprimand – each time we catch sight of it we experience the sinking feeling of not having got round to the job. These things call on your attention with a corresponding emotional reaction. So there is a mental state behind the manifestation (the fear of starting a new course means the books get left on the shelf) and then a new problem in it’s own right (course deadlines mount up and we have to deal with panic and the possibility of submitting work which does not do justice to our true ability).
Understand then act
To utilise insight from our environment, we first need to identify what is behind a particular environmental manifestation. So much of life is bringing to consciousness what is holding us back. Where do you see the problems in your environment and what in your life or in yourself does this point to? Is it grief? Feeling swamped? Loneliness? Undeservingness? Only by understanding this can you begin to tend to the real issue. You will know when you have accessed what is behind the ‘symptoms’ of your environment as you will likely feel a surge of emotion, and a mental link to the root of the problem.
Of course, there may be deeper psychological investigation to be done, but working on our surroundings can be pivotal in understanding our current difficulties. Sometimes behaviour needs to come first – changes to our environment can put us back in control or help us work through unprocessed feelings we have been trying to avoid. Changing old photos from a previous era for example, can not only put you in touch with your grief, but encourage you to celebrate what we have got, or be the impetus for making new waves and creating the new pictures of your life. Starting on one pile of paperwork can be enough to spark empowerment and put us back on the road to organisation and mastery over current professional challenges. Often motivation occurs after we make a start, so if this is a time of confusion, beginning on some area of your environment that has been calling on your attention often creates the clarity and energy to overcome challenges we are currently facing in our lives.
Lots more to follow on the relationship between our inner state and our environment…