Now that spring is here, most of us are motivated to wake up from hibernation and get moving, and hopefully you’ve started shedding your winter shell. While you are busy spring-cleaning and soaking up some extra time outdoors, don’t forget the most important thing that needs a good cleaning: our minds and our inner selves.
Sometimes it’s so easy to pay attention only to what we can see or touch, and we don’t realize the power of things that aren’t in plain sight, like our thoughts. Since we can’t literally “see” them, we can forget how much they affect us on a daily basis. The solution? Learn to garden.
I’m not talking about hands-in-the-dirt, grow-your-own-veggies type of gardening (although that’s great if you have an actual garden). You don’t literally have to garden to have an idea of what it takes to maintain one. But all of us absolutely need to become mental gardeners.
Think about this for a moment: if you had a vegetable garden, small or large, you’d plant what you want to eat. You’d water your garden, watch it grow, and invest into it your precious time and energy – just as we do with our goals or intentions. But no matter how many layers of protection you have under the surface, it is inevitable that weeds will find their way in. You’ll see them, a little bit at a time, popping up through the dirt.
The problem is that those weeds eat up energy, so now some of those precious nutrients and energy that would be going to your veggies is being stolen and sucked up by those weeds. A good gardener knows they must stay on top of their garden and get rid of those weeds right when they sprout, so they can maintain healthy plants. The weeds bring nothing to the table (literally), and will only cause trouble.
It’s up to you to do something about the weeds. You can’t ignore them or pretend they’re not there – eventually, they’ll overrun your whole garden and kill your plants. You can’t just sit there and worry about them – that does nothing for your garden, and you will only watch them choke out your healthy veggies that you want. Instead, you actually have to get your hands in the dirt and pluck ‘em if you want to see results.
Even though it may be a little annoying, you’ll find when you get going that it’s much easier than it looks. Once you are up close and tug on them, you’ll see that the roots of the weeds are flimsy and pull right out. If you wait too long, those weeds can develop some pretty thick roots – you can still pull them out, you’ll just need to work a bit harder at it.
Become a mental gardener. Pluck the weeds out, and watch the other things in your life thrive as the energy is free to flow where it should. Bad thoughts in your head are weeds, as are bad friends, bad habits, bad energy, and worries that hold no weight. The faster you learn how to pull those, the more energy you’ll have for the good things in life.
This may cause you to hesitate, and worry that this is selfish – it’s 100% the opposite. When you take care of your mental garden, you are allowing yourself to be the best version of YOU that you can. This is the side of you that the world needs most. Imagine yourself literally pulling the weeds out and tossing them into a compost bin. This visual will help you see what’s important and what’s not. Maybe they’ll decompose and you’ll use them as fertilizer for later, but in the meantime, get them out of your garden.
And if you’re garden is overgrown and you’re feeling desperate? Acknowledge it, take a good look – then get out the chainsaw or weed-whacker and rip those suckers out. They have to come out at some point.
Take a moment to assess some things:
- What’s a goal you’ve had that you’ve been putting off?
- What’s been on your mind that you know you haven’t given as much attention to as you’d like?
- List the 3 most important things you want to accomplish this season.
Pay attention to the following:
- Negative thoughts that run through your head throughout the day.
- Small things that eat up your time (mindless “errands”, Facebook, web-surfing, etc.)
- When your mind goes on “autopilot” (what are you thinking about? Is it healthy?)
Now ask yourself:
- What things are completely necessary for you to do, and what can be crossed off?
- Are there any things/people that have been zapping your time or energy? (This could be anything from bad habits to one-way friendships). Identify them as weeds. You know what to do.
- Did you discover you’re wasting time worrying about something that you can’t do anything about?
Hopefully this helps you do some inner “spring cleaning” in some way. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to grab my shovel…..
“Whatever you have forgotten, you can remember. Whatever you have buried you can unearth. If you are willing to look deep into your own nature, if you are willing to peel away the layers of not-self you have adopted in making your way through the tribulations of life, you will find that your true self is not as far removed as you think.” — Meredith Jordan
I love this article, it’s a really good motivator. Thanks Ali, I needed it !!!!
Brilliant! Love this!!! Makes complete sense, well done (as usual)! And yes, very motivating! Thanks:)
Glad you enjoyed!!
This is just what I needed to get in the spring mode. Perfectly stated! Love it.
This is a beautiful metaphor Ali. As a matter of fact it’s a metaphor I tap into often.
Undoing is DOING in the real sense. We have to be vigilant not only about watching but about PULLING those weeds too. Watching isn’t enough. One has to follow through in action.
Thanks Ali, this was a beautiful reminder for me.
Thanks Rula! Yes, lots of pulling needs to be done! It’s hard, but the more we are aware, the better it can be. You are welcome, I’m glad you enjoyed 🙂