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In our final class of last month’s Productivity for YOUR Brain, students rated themselves on accomplishing their goals. One student rated herself a 5/5 but was close to crying.

“I finished my goal the day after the first class. And I’ve done so much since then in the last month. But I feel terrible. Sad. Empty. Why? What’s wrong with me?” She had stumbled onto the Joumor Principle, The Grief of Letting Go, and was feeling the effects.

As we have often discussed, organizing, or reorganizing, or decluttering is NOT about getting rid of stuff. It’s certainly true that less can be more, but the way into more is not necessarily through less (at the beginning). It’s through dealing with yourself.

Eek! What does it mean to deal with yourself? And how long does that take? And will it help me clear up these piles of paper?

Answer: By dealing with these piles of paper, you will deal with yourself, and that will take as long as it takes. It sounds vague, but it’s not.

We have a notion of who we are, and we become habituated to being that way. The body, the clothes, the friends, the activities, the stuff, the lateness…it’s all a compendium of choices and habits. Our comfort zone is a reflection of our nervous system. The good news is that our brains and bodies have plasticity- we can change, we can create new habits. In order to do so, though, we have to be willing change our perception of who we are, which does not always come easily.

The beauty of “self-sabotage”

People talk about self-sabotage like it’s a bad thing. Sure, on the surface, self-sabotaging choices keep us from growing and expanding and changing, which might be terrific if we could do it…So why do we self-sabotage? Our subconscious trying to keep us safe. Isn’t it nice to know someone’s looking out for you? Your subconscious does not want you in a situation that it perceives your delicate nervous system cannot handle. So it puts its arm around you and holds you back from danger. Have compassion for your evolutionary genius- we are wired to protect ourselves.

Self-sabotage and Joumor

Many clients have decreased or ceased anxiety and depression and pain medications after working together over time. How can this be? The Joumor methodology bypasses anxiety and procrastination-producing behaviors. It calms people. It makes them feel safe and able to expand into their greater desires and expectations of themselves. They feel confident and clear, so the self-sabotage does not need to rise up to protect them.

The Grief of Letting Go

This funny thing happens. We have been stuck in our clutter for weeks or months or who knows how long, and suddenly we don’t have it anymore. We handled it clearly and easily. It is gone. So when our brain looks for the thorn of the forever uncompleted task, it doesn’t find it, because we accomplished it. And our perception of ourselves can collapse in that moment. If we have no reason to feel ashamed, who are we? If we are someone who accomplished things and moves on, who are we? If our self-loathing will not keep us grounded, what will?

When we encounter our ultimate freedom, the philosophers Martin Heidegger called it anguish, and Jean Paul Sartre called it vertigo. We have shackled ourselves with our behaviors, and when these shackles are removed, we are terrified. There is grief here. The grief of admitting our self-shackling, and the grief of releasing our very perception of who we knew ourselves to be. It takes longer to release your self-perception than to file that stack of papers. Just try it. And if it’s disturbing, know this: you are normal. Go gently. Your freedom will expand as you do.

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