I’ve been spending time in my shared vegetable garden and tending to the potted plants and flowers I have at home. Among the many benefits of gardening, I enjoy the almost meditative state I sometimes find myself in while sowing, harvesting, or weeding. Recently it has got me thinking about something my counselor once told me and that we came back to many times in our sessions – the ways in which the garden is a metaphor for the mind and, really, for life. You can use this gardening metaphor to help you grow a healthy life.
Growing up our parents and caregivers are largely responsible for planting seeds for specific ideas, beliefs, and values in our minds. Society and culture help out as well as we take in messages from media and the world around us. When we behave a certain way, we take in the responses that we receive. The seeds sprout and are either nurtured or neglected.
Eventually, usually beginning around adolescence, we start to care for our garden ourselves. Some things that were planted will grow and thrive into beautiful, healthy plants. Some seeds just will not do in our specific garden. While others prove to be poisonous and will need to be pulled out. There are nearly endless seeds out there that we can explore and may want to plant ourselves if we discover they are a better fit for us.
As children, others sow seeds in our lives; as we grow up, we get to choose what plants we keep. Click To Tweet
Some plants I will continue to take care of – things that were sowed and nurtured that are healthy and beneficial to my life. These are plants like strong work ethic, thoughtfulness, and respect for others.
Some plants are no longer serving me. Growing up I ate a lot of processed and ready-made foods, and this was the seed that was sown into me for expectations around nutrition and preparing food. As an adult I decided to start learning about nutrition myself. I now focus on whole foods and make nearly everything from scratch. I can pull these types of plants up by the roots pretty easily. Some additional plants, like now making fair trade a priority, I was also able to swap out without too much work.
Other times it is more of a struggle. Using guilt as a motivator was rooted so deeply in my mind growing up that I could never pull it up in one go. This and other plants, such as insecurity regarding my physical appearance, I choose to stop watering. When they come up in my mind, I have to make the decision not to support them and their growth. I try to choose a healthier alternative. Eventually without water these plants will wither and die, but letting them go takes intention and time.
The good news is that with these unhelpful plants out of the way, now there is space for new ones. And I get to hand-pick them myself! It takes work, but I can bring fresh healthy and valuable perceptions, habits, and strategies into my life. Things like working out regularly or implementing natural remedies are new seeds I’ve sown in adulthood. I have nurtured them for myself, and they have blossomed into beautiful change in my life.
There’s nothing any of us can do about what’s planted in our gardens as children. However, as an adult we can all learn to take control of our own gardens. I get to decide what plants I want to keep, what plants are no longer serving me, and what new seeds I want to sow.
What do you think of this gardening metaphor? What ideas, values, and beliefs do you want growing in your garden?