How often do you drive into your driveway after a long day of work and suddenly see the massive weeds that are taking over your garden?
Surely, you must be imagining them because it only seems like yesterday you spent hours cleaning them out. They can’t be back already!
If you allow the weeds to continue growing then eventually they take over the whole garden, and they choke the life out of the plants you choose to have in there by taking the nutrients, sunlight and water that they need to grow and flourish.
We can apply the same thought process to the workings of our mind. The ‘weeds’ are some of the thoughts and habits that we’re given as part of our social conditioning. They’re the thoughts, habits and behaviours that we adopt so that we’ll be accepted by our community. They’re the things we do and say that aren’t aligned with who we truly are, but we do them anyway because they’re expected of us.
Throughout our lives we often find ourselves in situations where there is a lesson for us to learn. We work hard to sort through and shift our ‘stuff’ so that we’re more closely aligned to our values. But then something happens and we find ourselves going straight back to our old behaviours – we’re controlled by our long term conditioning.
It is at this point that we can take one of two paths. The first is the path of recrimination. On this path we berate ourselves for falling back into old habits, we are depressed and miserable because all the hard work we put in was clearly for nothing. We spend days being extraordinarily harsh on ourselves and then we find it difficult to drag ourselves back to the surface and into the light.
The second path is one of observation and kindness. On this path we stop and consciously recognise that our long term conditioning has kicked in and we take a moment to consider the things that happened in the lead up to the old behaviours resurfacing. Were there things that were similar to the last time the old behaviours resurfaced? Are there things we can do to become more conscious of the things as they are happening rather than after the fact? But most importantly, we take moment to congratulate ourselves for noticing the old behaviours before consciously making a decision to change direction and move away from them.
There will always be weeds in our lives, because just as the garden thrives in certain seasons where the weather changes from cold to warm and there is plenty of water and nutrients, our minds also go through a change in season as our lives change and grow around us. It’s not the weeds themselves that we should take notice of, it’s our ability to consciously change the way we react to them.
The next time you drive into your driveway and see that the weeds are once again ‘out of control’ take a moment to stop and smile and say thank you for the reminder that it’s time to give your garden some love.