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Of Dresser Drawers and Picking Up the Pieces

May 27, 2011

Of Dresser Drawers and Picking Up the Pieces

I remember a metaphor that was given to me by a coach a number of years ago. At the time, I was dealing with the break-up of my marriage. I was a full-time graduate student in a city with which I was unfamiliar, my daughter was an infant, and I needed to find a new home. Needless to say, it was an unsettling time without the emotional havoc of my family disintegrating.

I was trying to hold things together for myself and for my daughter, examining one area and yet another of my life to see how to move forward. My coach began to speak to me about drawers. She said that when people clean out their dressers, they could engage in the process by going through one drawer at a time: pulling out a drawer, cleaning it out, putting the contents back in an ordered fashion and placing the drawer back into the dresser. She said that this is a very viable approach to cleaning out the dresser. But then she spoke of the results of this method. She said that while it could indeed bring order, it would be putting the items back in the same structure that they were in before. What would happen, she asked, if you dumped the contents of all the drawers on the floor?

Immediately I thought I’d have a big mess, with no vision and no time to put it all back together. But she said that if you do that, you can see what you’ve got. You can take a closer look at what’s important; what you need and what you don’t, what you want to keep and discard, and you can evaluate whether or not you want to restructure your drawers in a different or better way.

Essentially, what she was saying to me is that there is nothing wrong with turning things over in your life. Completely over and upside down.  And especially when one is in a state when the world as you knew it is crumbling, this is the perfect time to dump all the drawers and start over.

When we are in crisis – when we lose a job, when we deal with betrayal or illness, when friendships fall apart or some other trauma befalls us, it is likely that we hold fast to all we know, seeking a sense of stasis and stability. While we are flailing around, we might be doing our best to keep all the drawers that we can intact. We might not recognize the opportunity for rebirth and renewal and if someone suggested it to us, we might lash out at them for their seeming insensitivity. But maybe they’re onto something. No crisis is chosen; none is sought. I don’t know anyone who walks around saying, “Give me some trauma so I can transform myself.” The idea of this seems ludicrous. But the fact is that life deals us with ordeals and upsets, some that go to our very core. The recognition that we have the capacity to dump all the drawer contents onto the floor and pick up the pieces in a whole new way can be a comfort, or even a life raft. It could provide you with a new blueprint for your dresser and for your life.

Robin Damsky

Our book, Find Fulfill Flourish, was named a Finalist in the Self Help category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times calls it “an inspirational tour de force” Click here to purchase it. Click here for an overview and here for a free sample chapter. Book readers also receive FREE access to all premium exercises and content on our website.

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