My House is My Kryptonite


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Episode #126 My house is my kryptonite

  Dear Torie, Being in my house drains my energy. The clutter and the chaos cause me to lose focus and feel powerless. Anything I do to try and restore order immediately gets messed up by my 3 kids and ADHD husband. When I’m in the main room, my eyes dart around to all the unfinished tasks, work that I have to do and things I hate about my house. I look for excuses to be out of my house rather than clean it. I will clean the car, work in the yard, or even run to Target to buy more stuff to cram into my already cluttered house! How am I supposed to create a clean and relaxing home environment when being in my house makes me so tired and unfocused? Melissa Too much responsibility

Parent Educator Answer:

If you felt ready to tackle this situation, I would suggest hiring a personal organizer to help you do a dramatic clean sweep of your home. Choose the room that bugs you the most and pull everything out of it. This shifts the energy in your home and gives you a clean slate with renewed energy. The problem with this method is that you aren’t getting to the root cause of WHY your house is where it is. Chances are, your room would stay clean for about a month but slowly you’d end up back where you started. You could delegate it to your family to be in charge of, hire a housecleaner, decide not to let it bother you, create a system where the whole family pitches in on Friday nights. There are many solutions but here at the Supermom is Getting Tired podcast, we know quick fixes only last so long. To make long lasting change, we gotta do a little life coaching.  

Life Coaching Answer: What gets in the way?

First we need to debunk the idea that your house is more powerful than you are. There is no doubt that our clutter holds energy and many people can feel drained in a messy house full of stuff. Most of us can walk into a hotel room and notice increased mental clarity compared with walking into a messy garage where we feel overwhelmed. BUT If you were walking through the messy garage to grap the fire extinguisher because your stove was ON FIRE, you would have complete mental clarity. If you had 15 minutes to get 3 kids changed, 2 dogs fed, so you could make it on time for a worrisome doctor’s appointment, your brain would be overwhelmed and chaotic. A messy house is not more powerful than your brain. You could be sitting in your messy house, completely drained and exhausted, staring at all the clutter, when suddenly the door bell rings. At your door are balloons, cameras, and people holding a giant check saying “Congratulations on winning publishers clearing house!” Suddenly you would feel energized and delighted. You would invite these people in to your home feeling excited and happy, no more kryptonite! Instead of “My house is my kryptonite” It would be more accurate to say “My brain, while in my house, is my kryptonite”. This makes it easier because who determines what happens inside your brain? You do! Nothing is going to change in your brain until you figure out WHY you want the house to be messy. I can hear you saying, “but Torie, I DON’T want the house to be messy!” I get it, but when you are actively creating a situation that is contrary to what you say you want, there are always two competing voices inside your head. One voice says, “I want a clean house” the other says “I want it to be messy”. This voice will sabotage any efforts you make to get organized so before you can conquer the enemy, you’ve got to get to know thy enemy. If I say I want to lose weight, and I’m eating a donut every morning, drinking soda all day, and munching cookies in front of the TV every night, then clearly I DON’T want to lose weight. I’ve got to figure out why I WANT to gain weight so that I understand the forces that are keeping me making those choices. Here are some subconscious reasons WHY someone might WANT to live in a messy house, even when their conscious brain says they want it clean.
  1. They don’t want to do what it takes to keep it clean. They don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen. They don’t want to follow their kids around the house constantly reminding them to put caps back on pens, socks in hampers, and clean out sinks.
  2. They feel stressed and overwhelmed on the inside and they want their environment to reflect their insides.
  3. They (subconsciously) think that if it gets bad enough, someone will come in and rescue them. They love a transformation. It’s more satisfying to take a disaster and completely transform into a beautifully clean room, than to do a little bit everyday and never get to feel the energy shift that comes from a dramatic improvement.
  4. They are seeking revenge. Keeping a house messy can be a passive aggressive way to punish our loved ones for _________(fill in the blank). It could be anything from the cultural expectations society places on mom’s shoulders to that one time you accidentally gave away a bag of my clothes to Goodwill to resentment that you spent 6 years in college to spend your days cleaning toilets and picking up dog poop.
  5. The desire for perfection. Some people enjoy perfecting and make things look and function beautifully but with 3 kids constantly undoing your efforts, it’s easy to feel defeated and think, “What’s the point?” You might choose to keep it messy because you are holding out for the day when you can work your perfectionistic magic.
  6. They dislike the space. If you are wanting to move house or do a renovation, you might purposefully let your house look as bad as possible in hopes that you will get what you want.
  7. There is something else going on that you don’t want to deal with and having a chronically messy house is a great distraction. If you are avoiding dealing with marriage problems, financial problems, physical or mental health problems, then having an obvious clutter problem is a handy thing to hide behind.
There are many reasons WHY people WANT to keep their house messy. Before you try changing your house, figure out what yours is and see if it’s worth keeping it. Supermom is getting tired Ask yourself,

“Do I LIKE my reason for keeping my house messy?”


“Is there another way to achieve my desired goal?”

For example, when I realized I was keeping my house messy because I was resentful that this is what my life had boiled down to. I was unhappy and I want my environment to reflect that. I asked myself, “Do I LIKE my reason for keeping my house messy?” and in a way I did. When I asked, “Is there another way to get what I want?” I decided to work enough hours to pay for a housecleaner. I would rather teach preschool and parenting classes, than mop my floor. Many people would rather mop floors than teach preschool and parenting classes. Once I aligned with my values, found work I enjoyed and let someone else do the work they enjoyed restoring order to my house, I felt much more at peace in my perfectly imperfect home. Let’s say you resonated with reason #6 and found your desire for perfection is keeping you from having a clean home. Ask yourself “Do I LIKE my reason and is there another way to active the same goal?” You might find a compromise like setting a timer for 15 minutes of tidying then you can reward yourself by color coordinating your condiments in your refrigerator. Saralynn thought she couldn’t relax unless the house was clean. She was constantly complaining about the mess and trying to get her family to pitch in so that she could feel relaxed on the inside. Her house was messy because she didn’t want to be cleaning it all the time. Without realizing it, she had given her away her ability to relax to outside forces and it just wasn’t working for her. Her family hid because she was constantly nagging them and they just wanted her to chill out. She asked herself, Is there another way to get what I want?” Instead of focusing on getting her home cleaned so she could relax, she focused on feeling relaxed on the inside FIRST. She found it easiest to do this outside the home so she’d go sit in her car or the backyard, breathe, read a book, and then, when she felt ready to go back inside, she would tell herself what to focus on. Saralynn would rally the kids to wipe off the counters, while she put dishes away, then go back outside and read her book. This proved to her brain that she could relax, even while her house was messy, and only devote small chunks of the day to cleaning. If you connected with reason #4 and have a pattern of increasing messiness so that you get a big transformation, perhaps you’ll decide you like this reason and it works for you. Then you can feel at peace with your decision and eliminate the cognitive dissonance that is draining your energy. Having two competing beliefs battling it out inside our heads will always drain our energy and cause us to lose focus and mental clarity. The most important thing is for you to reconcile these two competing voices and figure out what you really, really want. Your conscious brain might think it wants a perfectly tidy home but your subconscious brain might be tired and just want to rest. Finding the balance between these two voices where both get heard and respected will create a mind state of peace and clarity.    

Supermom Kryptonite – “This is just how I am.”

  One of the biggest obstacles that interferes with our ability to grow and change is a mindset like, “This is just how I am, I’ve always been this way and nothing is going to change that.” This is a huge block to creating new synaptic activity and growing the brain to think in a new way. When you think, “this is just how I am” you are surrendering all your personal power. “I’ve always been this way” is like announcing to the universe, “I am unable to use my imagination, my creativity, and I am completely closed off to new ideas”. It is a HUGE KRYPTONITE. PLEASE only use this phrasing to reinforce something that you NEVER WANT TO CHANGE and you HOPE TO ALWAYS BE TRUE. “I’m a natural born winner, always was, always will be. This is just how I am.” “I am a child of God. Loved no matter what. Nothing will ever change how valuable I am.” “I am enough. This is just how I am. I’ve always been good enough and nothing is going to change that.” Be super selective where you use these “surrendering” phrases and make sure it’s something you want to always believe about yourself.

Supermom Power Boost – Trying something new

                      Magical things happen when we try something new. We override that part of our brain that says “This is just how you are” and we prove it wrong. Jacqueline was trying everything to overcome working mom burnout but nothing seemed to be helping. She felt exhausted and stuck, until one day, on a whim, she signed up for an Improv class. This one act of rebellion put her on a different course. Improv helped her loosen up her thinking, trust her creativity, and get really comfortable with failure and making mistakes. From there, she hired a life coach, switched career paths, and started a podcast about overcoming working mom burnout. One of my SuperDad clients is trying to undo his addiction to round the clock work. At our last session he says, “I’m not feeling better yet, in fact I’m getting more and more fed up and desperate for change, but I am starting to eat better. After decades of starting my day at Starbucks with a coffee and a pastry, I’ve switched to oatmeal.” This might seem like a small change but it’s a very good sign that big changes are on the horizon. Trying something new keeps the brain flexible and reminds us that we are not imprisoned by our habits. I have had “itchy feet” all through COVID, craving travel. When I ask myself what is it about travel that I’m yearning for, the answer is novelty and adventure. In my attempt to find novelty and adventure, I’ve discovered Aerial Yoga and it has been a blast! I feel like a kid again, hanging from these silk hammocks and flipping around and upside down. When you get older, it’s easy to get set in your ways but trying something new and difficult keeps your brain nimble and your spirit youthful. My teacher will say something like “Curl into a ball, flip to your side and rotate your leg to the ceiling”. I will repeat the words to myself but I can’t get my body to obey. It’s like she’s speaking a foreign language. I can hear my brain saying, “that’s impossible” “there is no way” and then I’ll do it and it’s like little fireworks go off in my brain. I’m terrible at it, but that’s part of the fun. I’m sure I’ll get good at it eventually but then the novelty and adventure will wear off and it will feel like an ordinary exercise class. If you want a boost of energy, try something new and prove to your brain that you are capable of change. It doesn’t have to be in the same area where you find yourself struggling. Messy house draining your energy? Learn a new language on Duo Lingo. Can’t get a hold of your finances? Try some new plant based recipes. The goal is to keep your brain flexible and remind yourself that you can create whatever you desire.

Quote of the Day:

“Successful organizing forces you to look at the big picture, not one small section of the frame, so that the system you design will be complete.” Julie Morgenstern

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