It’s the time of year when the hedge at the front of my garden seems to be going wild and I need to spend time pruning and pulling out creepers and brambles. Always a tough half a day, cutting back brambles with mammoth prickles, ready to tear hands to shreds if not carefully handled and robust gloves needed as protection. Strength and effort is required to pull the ivy out as far as possible, though I never quite manage to remove it all. Always in my mind is that it will need to be revisited at further points in the year. At the end of the session, I am able to sit back and appreciate the hard graft, whilst it may be not truly aesthetic, I can see the impact I have had and that the hedge is now stronger and not strangled by creepers and brambles. No one else seeing the hedge will understand the hard work that has been undertaken or truly appreciate the achievement.
How does this relate to personal growth? While undertaking the task I reflected on a recent personal situation where I have ended up needing to mediate in challenging circumstances. It made me think about the people involved, their possible thoughts and beliefs and what could be leading them to respond and interact in the ways they were. They have their own journeys to travel and how far they go is going to depend on their willingness to be attentive to themselves and possibly to consider their brambles and ivy, that is, the sense of what may be getting in the way of growth.
A quote I often use is “As human beings we may mistakenly believe we are finished”(Dan Gilbert), however as we know it is never really quite the case and just like brambles and ivy things left unattended can get in the way and choke our ability to think and act. If not addressed brambles can also scratch and ivy can form a screen almost impossible to penetrate without heavy duty equipment – some similarities to the barriers we may place around ourselves as a coping mechanism.
We all have to work hard if we want to flourish and challenge the things that stunt our growth. Removing our own brambles and ivy is an ongoing challenge, it always needing revisiting and can seem a never-ending task. For me, I know now there is always something to learn, a new insight, a new perspective, a new scratch to be felt or an assumption choking my ability to think and act, something needing to be tackled. To sit back and just think a task has been achieved is just not real life, ongoing tending and management is always the best approach and gives us the best opportunity to really grow.
Sharon Outhwaite – Consultant, The Wellbeing Collective