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July 14, 2013
Paper Clips

Paper Clips

I admit it. I am not the most organized person that ever walked the face of the earth. Truthfully, quite far from it. But one of the most useful little inventions I keep around my desk is the ever-ready paper clip.

I know this sounds fairly basic, but it’s true. Paper clips help me keep things that belong attached to each other, together – and that is a huge help for someone who usually keeps things scattered. So yes, I see the undeniable value to the paper clip.

BUT, there have also been many times when I have linked the wrong things together. I have somehow managed to let a paper that I have on weight loss get mixed up in the clipped pages on the importance of forgiveness…or something like that. It doesn’t happen all the time, but when a page gets attached to the wrong thing, it really causes lots of confusion and extra work.

So here is my correlation between paper clips and psychology:

We all have “paper clips” that we attach things to in our lives.

It is late Sunday afternoon and I’m running late. I get stuck in traffic on my way to the store and get to the door less than five minutes after they close. I’m rattled and distraught. “Why do things like this always happen (here is the paper clip part) to me?”

Things like this always happen…there’s no disputing that. Each and every Sunday, this store closes its doors at 6:00 sharp! But my thinking has incorrectly paper clipped “to me” into the equation.

I may have a tendency to run late at times and there most definitely are things I can do to be more punctual such as leave myself five or ten extra minutes to get places, but my allowing the subjectivity of “to me” to clip itself to this event I have only caused myself extra pain and difficulty.

There are many things that happen just because of natural occurrences – couples fight, children disobey, disaster strikes, people die. These things pose significant challenges in life, no doubt; some more than others. But we complicate things and compound the difficulty by paper clipping these events to our subjective way of thinking and feeling.

When something disturbing happens, it often can feel as if it is only happening to us. We forget how much we all have in common and how random many things in life really are. We look for something to explain it and many of us come up with the false impression that we are the only ones that are experiencing these things. We are attaching the wrong pile of papers to the paper clips.

The best way I know to correct this type of thinking is to review the different piles of information – in other words, to look at things more objectively and to remove the paper clips if we find that we’ve attached ourselves to things that can stand alone. If disaster strikes, (which it does) we are incorrect when we think to ourselves ”things like this always happen to me.” The more correct thought here is “things like this always happen.” No paper clip needs to be added to “to me.” If it can stand alone (in this case – ‘disaster strikes’), then the thought needs to stop there. We need to remove the paper clip and let that fact stand alone.

We can trash our ‘to me’ pile and de-clutter our lives, making things much easier all the way around.

Today’s challenge: Consciously unclip your ‘to me’ pile from any other papers it may attach itself to, and let me know how you feel.


I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

One Comment
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