Are you at your best when your space is organized and aesthetically pleasing?
My sister used to make fun of me when we’d stay at hotels because before we could do anything or go anywhere or even sit down… I first needed to find the appropriate spaces for each piece of luggage, and then unpack certain things from my bag and put them where they would be used, whether in the bathroom or on the table.
In college, my friends would comment on the orderliness of my dorm room. “How do you keep it so NEAT in here?”
My childhood bedroom was a place where I took delight in organizing and arranging. I loved how I could make a small room feel spacious and homey at the same time.
Even as a toddler, I was the type to carefully arrange blocks or objects on the floor in such a way that they’d stare back at me in a perfect little line. How satisfying!
Any of this sound familiar? You’re not alone! A lot of highly sensitive people feel this way. You’ll often hear us quote the old adage: “A place for everything, and everything in its place!”
By no means have I ever considered myself an expert in home decorating, but maybe that’s because I’ve never been one to keep up with the latest trends. I’m usually more concerned with creating an atmosphere of spaciousness and functionality… and then sprucing it up in a simple, artistic way. To me, this feels inviting. And perhaps the invitation is more for my own peace of mind than for making others comfortable.
A strong “nesting” instinct sets in every time we move into a new home. Before I feel like I can get started with any part of life in a new location – working, socializing, planning events, sleeping – I feel like I’ve got to get my surroundings set up first.
So I’m not the type to just shove things in a closet.
Even before we pack for a move, I purge and get rid of as much unnecessary clutter as possible. I’m sort of a minimalist that way. Then, after moving into a new place, only certain important (functional) items are unpacked and ONLY when they have a specific place to BE useful. Otherwise, then are confined to storage. As time goes on, some items have become old stand-bys. Certain lamps, pictures, books. They are simply too important to ever leave me. So I have purchased a few pieces of eye-pleasing furniture that will shelve them for probably always.
It’s not just when we move, though. Anytime I start something new… a new personal care routine, a new work venture, a new project with my son… I create a very purposeful, appealing space for the new thing to flourish. Sometimes this looks like just rearranging the objects on my nightstand in a way that makes things decluttered and reachable. And in some seasons, there’s a preparatory assemblage of items that manifests as an immaculate homeschool space, work office space, home office, kitchen, or meditation nook. (And of course, each of space I transform includes some kind of essential oil diffuser – which serves that larger purpose of creating a peaceful ambiance.)
For some reason, creating these spaces makes me feel peaceful and purposeful – inspired to spend hours upon hours of life-giving life in my functional, beautiful (to me) space! Up until recently, I have mostly resided in small spaces, and each corner and cranny of those spaces have been very intentionally assigned their own specific purpose.
I asked other highly sensitive people about the topic of having their space organized and aesthetically pleasing, and it turns out I’m in good company. Over one hundred HSPs identified with this characteristic.
One HSP said about clutter: “It breaks my inspiration and motivation and greatly affects my creative output.”
Another HSP said that being organized keeps her mind clear. “Being organized and having things aesthetically pleasing and clutter free keeps me clutter free in my mind!”
Others said, “I get irritable if it’s a mess for too long” and “I’m overly clean and organized. I don’t function well in chaos.”
When you think about it, this habit of transforming one’s environment into a peaceful, purposeful haven makes perfect sense for those of us who are sensitive to our surroundings.
As one HSP so clearly put it, “I have come to understand that my mental state is directly affected by my immediate environment, and maintenance of this is an essential element in allowing me to serve my highest potential.”
And yet another insightfully observed, “It seems any of us who are extra visually sensitive take in our environments and process those feelings as our own, so clutter and excessive stuff is chaotic and distracting, and can feel downright suffocating in extreme circumstances.”
Is it OCD –– or feng shui? Call it what you will, but in some cultures, balancing the energy of an arranged space is considered an art form. The way I see it, at the very least, many of us have become very adept at solving the problems like clutter and organization. Visually-appealing organization is a strength that many of us can contribute to our homes, workplaces, communities, and even online. (Even this website is the result of my own highly sensitive organization and creativity with our little corner of cyber-space!)
You might be surprised to learn that my house actually gets kind of messy, now that I’m a mom. For example, as I type this, I’m sitting on the couch next to a massive heap of pillows, a book, a blanket, an iPad, a giant stuffed frog named Dart, and a pair of glasses. Some things ARE more important to me than tidiness… like relationships. After working all day, my truest desire is to connect with my little buddy. Just focus on him and being together. And that takes some amount of letting go of what’s around me so I can effectively tune in to him. (This takes practice, but it’s possible to tune out the visual noise when we need to, HSP moms!)
Even when we don’t have time to tidy and organize all the spaces, most of us still prefer a purposefully organized space. We function better that way. So, if you feel like you work better, relate better, and emote better in a space that’s arranged just how you like it… allow yourself some time to create this kind of haven! What adds to your peace in this space? Add it. What takes away from your purpose here? Remove it.
If you live with messy or disorganized people, perhaps you could reserve for yourself just one small, quiet space that is uncluttered, intentional, and peaceful. A place that feels like everything is in order. A place where art meets functionality. A place to gather yourself. This is a great way to accept and express this highly sensitive part of you in your environment.
Have you explored your unique HSP ability to integrate purposeful art and functionality in your environment? Let us know about it in the comments.