Do you ever watch HGTV? I do. It’s fun watching decorators on cable TV transform someone’s home from a hodge-podge into a stream-lined, harmonious and elegant space. Yet a part of me cringes. Whose house is it anyway?
Every aspect of our home should express self, reflecting and impacting well-being. But in today’s consumer society, we are bombarded with advertising images of the lifestyles of the rich and famous, and many of us buy this image for ourselves in mass-produced goods and luxuries. This robs us of the joy of creating homes that reflect the increased richness of our experience, our connection to family and friends, our loves and interests -- our unique self.
In truth, every inch of our home feel intimate and personal, and symbolize an aspect of self – our personality, needs, values; a stranger walking in the door should know immediately what kind of person we are. All objects and facets of our environment should be deeply meaningful, putting us at one with the entire surround, and reinforcing our individuality, versus using impersonal items that please others or fill a space but that alienates us from our essence. The more comfortable and true our exterior home, the more comfortable and true our inner home.
To achieve this, ideally our home environment should:
Create a Sensory Haven: We experience our surroundings through all our senses. For each of us, that sensory palette is different, based on our unique personality, experiences, and cultural background. The more our environment is a feast for your senses, the more we will feel interested in it and alive, calm and alert.
Strengthen Identity: Colorful or dull, messy or tidy, light or dark, our home expresses self. Make sure it’s organized, meaningful, and reflects your passion, whether it’s art, music, writing, or doll collecting.
Take Responsibility: We all need to feel accomplished and in control of our destiny. Taking responsibility for our home will combat feelings of helplessness and help us develop self-efficacy – the feeling that we can determine our fate. Self-efficacy happens from merely opening and closing a window to suit yourself, or discarding magazines you know you’ll never read to refurnishing your entire home. Any act of caring for your environment is an act of caring for yourself – of self-love.
Balance Change and Stability: To feel comfortable within our home, we need the familiar and the constant, like the pillow we sleep on, and we need change or the environment begins to feel stale.
Sharon Heller, PhD, is a psychologist and consultant in sensory processing disorder. She’s the author of Healing Homes: How to create a unique, relaxing, natural and healthy sensory haven, Loud,Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight, What to do if you are sensory defensive in anoverstimulating world and Uptight & Off Center, How sensory processing disorder throws adults off balance & how to create stability. Her website is www.sharonheller.net and email firstname.lastname@example.org.