You Owe It To Your Client To Be The Emotional Leader
Updated: May 22, 2022
As an emotionally sensitive empathic organizer, I am good at reading the room - and the person. When I was just starting out in the business, I was really committed to meeting my clients where they were emotionally. Many felt vulnerable and anxious about the decluttering process and I wanted them to feel safe and relaxed. I began to notice that after just a two-hour session I was mentally and energetically drained. Even when it was a positive experience.
I have come to realize that my attempt to help them feel better meant that I was taking on their feelings. Unwittingly, I would join them in their emotion and then try to walk them to a better place with a cheery attitude and the promise of a positive outcome. It’s exhausting to live someone else’s story. I could feel the burnout creeping in.
I had a therapist one time ask me to see all my then husband’s emotions in his cupped hands and then take them into mine. Then she asked me how it felt. Awful. Then I was directed to put them back into his hands. To my surprise, there was such a relief and sense of freedom I almost jumped up. Wow!!! I didn’t have to be responsible for how someone else felt! It was life-changing.
So here I was years later trying to organize a house with my hands full. No wonder it felt hard.
My ability to empathize and really see a person is a great gift I am proud to claim. But exercising it in an unbalanced way was not helping either my client or me. A fuzzy mind doesn’t problem-solve well, a drained heart can't reach out, and a tired body works less efficiently. And as cheery as I tried to be, I’m sure it was easy to pick up on my low energy. I often worried that my client was interpreting and internalizing my fatigue as a comment on their house or their personality. Again, holding all the emotions – heavy.
I have learned now to stay in my own emotional set. It starts when I open my eyes in the morning. I express my thanks for another day, for the beauty of my life, and set my intention that it’s going to be a really good day. I get up early enough to be relaxed and have free time so that it almost feels like a day off. I have a time of appreciation or meditation and do some qi gong. When I start the car I set my intention for a pleasant safe drive with something to listen to that will enhance my day. Before I get out of the car I set my intention for the organizing session to have fun, be productive, and let the time be whatever it needs to be for my client. During the session, if I start to get tired I check in with what I'm feeling and reset my intention.
In short, I own the responsibility for what I think and feel. And my awareness gives me the power to choose in any moment which direction I want to go.
As Professional Organizers, many of our clients are chronically ill, depressed, in some form of lack, or just plain overwhelmed. The strongest feeling will always dominate the room. When we show up unprepared we just naturally get pulled into their wake. The good news is – love always wins. Kindness, compassion, encouragement, and humor, trump depression, frustration, fatigue, and disappointment. The greatest experience I can give my client is to be my best self. My most powerful and loving. Then I’m my most creative, intuitive, strong, and efficient. They will feel it in that short time you're together and it can be potent medicine. And even if they don’t feel it or even see it I know I have brought my best and I’m still balanced walking to my car with energy intact.
Does every morning go as planned? No, but I’ve practiced this enough now that I'm pretty consistent - and it feels great, by the way. Does every client session turn into a lovefest? No, but I’m a better organizer and human for trying. A good life is built by a preponderance of good days. A good organizing career is built by a preponderance of good sessions. We owe it to ourselves and our clients to intend a better journey by owning our emotions. To set ourselves up for success one day, one session at a time.