Learn to Love Your House

Decorating anxiety is as common as white walls. No fear, life coach Martha Beck promises—self-confidence is something you can learn.

Even good people make judgments about wealth, creativity, cleanliness and intelligence by checking out one another's living spaces. That's why many of us, including individuals who can manage massive budgets or spearhead worldwide relief efforts, feel totally incapable of arranging our own furniture. Anticipating criticism, we experience the same paralysis that ties our tongues when we're asked to speak in public. At times, we may be virtually incapacitated by a near-phobic response to the whole issue of decorating.

Interior Decorating Anxiety, a disorder I'll call Ida, is an unrelenting taskmistress. Ida broadcasts constant verbal abuse from her perch in your superego. Ida can be pleased—for a moment. Ida's victims tend to think the issue is a lack of talent or training, when actually their problem combines a longing to be valued and accepted with a corresponding terror of being mocked or rejected. This emotional reaction blocks creativity, obliterating the ability to make beautiful spaces in which to live and love. Do you know Ida all too well? Take this quiz to find out.

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