As I was walking in the rain this morning, I felt thankful that the rain had returned to nurture the trees and plants after more than a week of sunshine. It occurred to me that as humans, we need both sunshine and rain in our lives, too.
Many of us prefer the sunny times. When it’s sunny we just feel better. We spend a lot of time outside enjoying the sun, interacting with others and are more physically active. On the other hand, we tend to complain about the rain. We withdraw and retreat to our homes, become more sedentary and more isolated.
However, just as trees need both sunshine and rain, so do we, in a metaphorical sense. We love it when we feel happy and light – in the sunshine. And yet, without the rain, without the difficult times and sometimes painful emotions, we couldn’t grow.
As I am learning to embrace feeling my emotions, all of my emotions, this has become even more clear to me. I have hit a wall in my growth because I have been unwilling to feel certain emotions.
Part of nurturing a tree or a plant is to provide it with everything it needs, and in the right amounts at the right time. If it is sunny for too long, we have to water the tree. If it starts to grow in an undesirable direction, we prune it. We go with the flow because we can’t predict how much sun or rain there will be, or what direction the tree will grow. We observe what is happening and make decisions about what that tree needs right now to be nurtured.
The same is true of ourselves. Nurturing myself includes having fun and playing (sunshine), feeling sad or fearful when the situation warrants it (rain), noticing if I’m going off in the wrong direction and changing course (pruning). Leaving out any of these ingredients does not nurture me.
Additionally, we need to have a balance of all these ingredients that is appropriate to what’s going on for us at that moment. Just as we observe what is happening with the natural elements and make adjustments to nurture the tree, we must do the same with nurturing ourselves.
Too much sunshine and not enough rain can lead to being superficial and stunt our growth. Too much rain and not enough sunshine can lead to depression or anxiety. Pruning at the wrong time, or not pruning at all, can lead to growth in the wrong direction.
Therefore, my assignment (and yours if you choose to accept it – thank you Mission Impossible!) is to be in the moment. To pay attention to how I feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. And notice if my life is going in the direction I intend. Then adjust the ingredients to get the result I prefer.