Welcoming Summer and Emotional Growth
Summer has arrived. I notice too that weeds have appeared. I wonder, does this represent a part of one's self? Are there parts of you that you would like to root out and plant a more beautiful bloom in their place? Is there anything you have disguised under new growth?
Weeds seem to re-appear again and again and I believe that we all have weeds in our emotional gardens; yet some people cling on to these difficult parts. I often hear “I don't like this about myself”. I wonder, what does this person need, to change their weed into a beautiful bloom?
Carl Rogers, a very wise man, created the person-centred approach to address this very existential dilemma. He didn't believe that the past affected the here and now. He believed in three main core conditions to enable growth. These are empathy, congruency and unconditional positive regard.
As children, we need all need to be heard, understood and empathised with. We need someone to be able to walk in our footsteps and not judge us, nor bring their own agenda to our garden. What we don't need is sympathy. “At least” is usually a good indicator that you are being sympathised with. Empathy is different: another person might say “It sure feels dark down here and I am here with you”.
Everyone has the capacity to grow and change. It takes courage and when you have been repeatedly told that there's something wrong with you, a feeling of being disabled emerges. Perhaps the “weed” part of you was planted when you were young and year after year, the feeling of not being good enough, not measuring up, not making parents and grandparents proud, continues to affect your emotional and physical wellbeing. Physically, our bodies can experience headaches, nightmares, anxiety.
Another metaphor, is that we all have “shops”. We present our shop front to the people in our world. We like to show people our best – we are selling and hoping they don't find out what is in the back room. The back part of our shop is usually stocked with experiences that make us feel uncomfortable, ashamed, angry, bad and, within our culture, the “stiff upper lip” is the norm. I disagree. People are fragile, vulnerable and with summer here now, perhaps this is the time to choose a different way, where our weeds are nurtured, heard and changed into a more empowering, joyful way of being.
To be heard, validated and emotionally held is extremely reparative. This is how I work - both person-centred and psychodynamically. We all have the ability to change and yes, it takes courage. What are your weeds and what does your back of shop feel like, for you? Would you like to change your garden? You can, and summer, a season of much change, is here now.