I was talking to a friend today and she described a common experience many of us have when living with someone, whether it be a roommate or a romantic partner. She came home from a long day of work to laundry unfolded, clothing hanging over a drying rack as well as the sink full of dishes and the counter covered in crumbs. She immediately felt her chest tighten and had to drop everything to clean the kitchen and put away the laundry. Why do we feel this sense of urgency to have order? Why do we need to clean right NOW?
We tend to associate cleanliness with control. If my kitchen is clean and the laundry is put away then I will feel in control. What would happen if you cleaned the kitchen tomorrow and put the laundry away in the morning? Would your life fall apart? I doubt it. My friend asked me what I suggest to help with this uncomfortable notion of feeling like you are losing control and need to organize right NOW.
My answer is to BREATHE through it! Recognize that feeling, observe it in your body (the tightening of the chest). Begin taking deep breaths. Breathe in for 4 seconds, pause then breathe out for 6 seconds. Focus on your breath and tell yourself that this can wait, I am in control.