What trimming my bush taught me about my mind garden
I would love a nice garden. A lovely garden with flowers of every colour, a nice patio set and some home-made lemonade, outside where I do my best work. The reality is that right now, my life is super busy, and even mowing the lawn (it’s not even a big lawn) only happens when we realise that the garden’s owning us, not the other way around.
After a particularly stressful day, I decided to pick up the shears and tackle the bushes that have been growing wildly for quite some time now. We have ivy growing around fencing, flower bushes cutting off the sunlight to others, and branches of bushes going from one side of the garden to the other. It’s pretty much an overgrown mess.
(There is a point to all this.)
Now, I’m no garden expert. I mean, I hacked at the bush like a trainee hairdresser having a go at her first mannequin.
I found plants I didn’t even know I had. I found strange yellow things growing in the ground that may have resembled potatoes quite some time ago. And I discovered a tree stump.
It got me thinking.
Overgrown gardens are a bit like our minds. (Bare with me, I’m not gonna get super woo-woo).
There are some things we don’t nourish, there are things that we neglect, and sometimes we just don’t take the time or the effort to look deeper at things.
As people who spend a lot of our lives on fast forward, always thinking of the next thing, and subsequently often feeling drained, I think it’s fair to say that at some point or another, we stop observing our thoughts and focus only on what we can see.
Sometimes we skim the surface, accept the first thing that comes to mind and don’t care to take another look. It may be a reaction to a situation, a feeling when we hear good or bad news, a spurge of emotion when things don’t go the way we plan.
Sometimes it’s the things that are hidden which are the most surprising and the most valuable.
Our hidden things could be memories we haven’t thought about in a long time. They could be life plans that we’re too scared to follow. Perhaps they’re dreams we’re too terrified to admit even to ourselves? Or areas of our lives that we want to change, but have no idea how.
But what do I do when I discover the hidden things? I hear you ask.
Here are a couple of things you could try:-
1. Sit it out
I think this is by far the hardest. When you’re not used to sitting down as you’re always on full pelt, sitting with uncomfortable emotions can be really tough. On the other hand though, it can be really beneficial. Sometimes it’s about giving yourself the time to sit on your sofa in the quiet and focussing on one thing. You’d be surprised at how your mind makes links, and how you can discover things about yourself you never knew.
2. Write it out
Or draw it out. Or doodle it out. Creative arts are a great therapy. There’s something about getting lost in your thoughts, getting lost in the flow that gives you head space like nothing else. Put on some nice music, create something that you’re not expecting to be a masterpiece and shake it out.
3. Talk it out
Sometimes there’s nothing like a good heart to heart over a good cup of hot chocolate. Or picking up the phone and pacing back and forth. Good friends help to keep us grounded, keep us feeling connected and provide a judgement-free space. Sometimes it’s about remembering that we’re not alone..
4. Time out
Our minds are strange things. There’s times when uncomfortable thoughts will pop out of nowhere. The trick is not to ignore them, but if you’re not in the right space, it’s about finding a way to contain them. Maybe make a plan to think about it later, maybe it’s something we’d like to work through with a professional, maybe it’s something we’d just rather not acknowledge. Have some time out and go back to it. The lens we see the world through changes every day.
One of the most liberating things to learn is that we control our thoughts. We can decide what we think. We can decide how much air time we give to what.
Think about that.