We live in a country that idolizes independence. Americans come from pioneers, survivors, risk-takers and free thinkers. One of our first sentences as toddlers is often, “I can do it myself.” I believe that being organized has been, for me, a way to be independent. I rarely need to rely on someone else for the date and time of an event (it’s on my calendar) for information from a meeting (I took copious notes) for a phone number (it’s in my contact list), and on and on. I know where my brown leather belt with the scorpion buckle is. My bills are paid, and my gas tank is full.

But I’ve been loosening up, and it’s glorious. Like anything, once you become an expert, you can break the rules a little bit. The confidence that comes from knowing I can pull my world back into line when it gets a little messy allows me to have more fun, and two of the things I am enjoying the most are being able to accept help from others and collaboration with others.

When we are too fiercely independent, we don’t allow others’ to share their gifts. I know for myself that I was so fearful of appearing needy, that I never accepted help. Even worse, if someone did help me, I didn’t have the gratitude and appreciation I should have had because I rationalized my way into thinking that I did it alone. Whether that was graduating from college, landing a great job or starting a business, I was very fearful of giving anyone else any credit for my success.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have welcomed a lot more input and assistance from others, and would have understood that collaboration and connection are the keys to making anything we accomplish much bigger, brighter, more successful and more fulfilling. I’m so thankful now for those who have helped me succeed, and I let them know it. Talk about feel good!

Spiritual leader and best-selling author Marianne Williamson writes about the necessity of “brushing up” against other people as a way we polish our characters, like rocks in a tumbler. The clearer we are about our own values and boundaries, the more pleasantly polished we become and the more effectively we can collaborate to achieve our goals.

Yes, sometimes people will let us down. Claire Zammit, who leads the fantastic online course Feminine Power, counsels that the more we extend ourselves, receiving support and, in turn, giving support, the more we will be able to identify those partnerships that are ‘synergistic” and will really lift us up to another level of growth.

She says that it is important to not lose heart in the face of a disappointment, but to stay open and learn from the experience. The more you practice collaboration, the more easily you will identify the people with whom you will have the most positive outcomes.

Angela Hoxsey is a professional organizer based in the Napa Valley. For information about her services, go to HouseInorder.com or call 707-738-4346. “Like” House in Order on Facebook for more organizing tips and information about upcoming events. E-mail Hoxsey for information on her Summer Organizing Special (SOS) which runs in July and August at angela@houseinorder.com.