Worth repeating: Lessons learned from a painful thumb

3 August 2020


I wrote this blog post almost exactly four years ago. When I read it again this morning, I thought the message was still valuable so I wanted to share it again. I’m happy to report that my thumb continues to be pain-free!

I was diagnosed with trigger finger recently (trigger thumb, actually). Trigger finger happens when the tendon in a finger or thumb becomes inflamed, causing the finger to catch in its sheath. The finger then locks in the bent position and then releases with a snap.

As soon as I noticed severe pain in my thumb and experienced that tell-tale snap after waking up, along with a constant dull pain in the thumb, I made an appointment with a hand doctor. (My husband has had surgery for trigger finger twice, so I was clued in.) The doctor confirmed my self-diagnosis and suggested a steroid shot. I’d heard that the steroid shot was really painful, but I decided to give it a try.

What does this have to do with organizing? It brought to mind two things that I see in clients while decluttering and organizing.

First, the fear of the pain of the shot was worse than the pain itself. And while it was quite painful for about 10 to 12 (long) seconds, it wasn’t by any means unbearable. Once the pain of the shot was gone, the pain of the condition slowly started to fade away.

It got me thinking about the fear some clients feel about hiring an organizer or the prospect of going through the decision-making process of decluttering. It seems scary, but the pain is over pretty quickly. And once you’re past the pain of getting started, you can start getting relief.

After I got my steroid shot I was (unrealistically) expecting instant relief. That wasn’t the case. It took probably a week, but every day there was less pain in my thumb. Then one day there was no pain at all. I could grip items without pain and the constant dull ache was gone. And mornings were much easier, since I woke up pain free.

It probably took me a week to notice the absence of pain. That was a real a-ha moment for me. Once I noticed that my thumb no longer hurt, I was delighted. The shot had worked! I was amazed that it took so long to notice.

Isn’t that true of a lot of things in life, including organizing systems? We notice what isn’t working. We feel the pain and frustration of failing systems or the absence of systems. But when things are going well, we often don’t even notice. We’re missing an opportunity to feel good about ourselves!

I encourage you to think about the things in your life that are working well. Notice the absence of frustration. Think about what you’re doing right and apply those lessons to the frustrating aspects of your life.

Noticing the absence of pain can be difficult. But it can be rewarding!

Photo by Katya Austin on Unsplash

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About Janine

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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