My neighbor has a green thumb. Her yard is filled with beautiful flowers, mature trees, well-trimmed bushes, and her grass resembles a plush green carpet. There are bird feeders, bird houses, and bird baths. It is serene. Yet, I am puzzled year after year by the location of the vegetable garden. Why are the tomatoes straining for sunlight beneath the maple tree? One possible explanation occurred to me: at one time, this raised bed garden did receive sunlight. However, over the last decade or so, the trees grew and what once was a sunny spot is now a shady spot. No amount of fertilizer or water will replace the sunlight.
This struck me as a possible metaphor for change. Are there areas in my life where I am trying to grow tomatoes in the shade? Of course, we all do it. When we resolve to make a change or find that change is required in light of a new circumstance, and if we continue responding with our usual approach, we may wonder why the results are less than satisfactory. If you are concerned that you might be spinning your wheels, here are a few ideas to ponder:
-What pattern is no longer serving me?
Admitting that something is not working can be one of the most challenging obstacles. This is especially true if you have invested a lot of resources into the situation. Have you ever heard yourself of someone else say, “But this is how we have always done this!” Considering the possibility of change opens new pathways to opportunity.
-What is preventing the change?
Change is hard, especially when it is not something we chose. Being open and ready to explore new ideas takes a mental shift. Challenge yourself to confront negative thinking or worst-case-scenarios when they fill your head. Reality-checking these thoughts with someone you trust can help you sort through them and take away some of their paralyzing power.
-What do I need in order to grow?
You will need to assess what resources will support your growth. If you are not sure, perhaps speak to someone else who has navigated a similar change in the past. Perhaps a mentor, friend, or subject matter expert would be able to offer a different perspective.
-What support is available?
There may be community resources available in your area for continuing education or enrichment. Check out your local library and community colleges for program offerings or reading materials. If you are seeking emotional support or accountability, consider which friend or family member may be available to check in on your progress. Sometimes, you might find that support from an objective third party can be helpful. In that case, you might consider contacting your EAP to discuss resources for counseling.
Failure can be the first step towards success! So, after you get that out of the way, get ready to try something new and make sure there is enough sunlight where you sow your seeds.
Jenny M., MA, joined Empathia in 2013 and is one of our Performance Specialists; her previous position here was as an EAP Counselor. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Counseling with an emphasis in School Counseling. Prior to joining Empathia, she worked as a School Counselor with children ranging in age from 4-18 years old. Jenny enjoys photography, travel, hiking, reading, adventures with her sons, and spending time with her family.
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