We are no strangers to droughts living in Colorado. We learn to landscape and plan to be “water-wise” in our yards and gardens. We hesitate to add water-thirsty lawns if we don’t think they will thrive on the water we can afford.
What about in our emotional lives?
With the never-ending pandemic, increasingly stressful economy, and just LIFE, I’ve come to recognize that my state of mind is also in a drought. There is only so much of myself to go around. A set number of items and tasks I can devote time and energy into. Only so much space in my heart to feel all the feelings and worry the worries about those I love. It reminds me of the popular tool for teaching kids about spreading kindness by describing the concept of filling a bucket.
But what if we’re working with a thimble at this point?
This becomes increasingly difficult when I struggle to “let go” and “get past” things. I can’t be the only one who sometimes still worries and ponders over choices and decisions I made decades ago. Right? These events and issues from the past take up space and diminish the “me” I have to work with.
A lot can be said for getting help to work through these things and get that real estate back. Therapy is a wonderful thing. Talking about your mental health with a friend can be helpful as well. I was talking to a new friend last week and we talked about mental health in a refreshingly open way. It feels like the stigma attached to our mental health is starting to lessen in society but there is so much work to be done there. Talk about not being ok. Talk about what you need. It should be the norm, not a refreshing development. Only we can make that change.
If we work on eliminating some of the weight of these things, we can turn our thimble back into a bucket, and our water supply will feel less like a drought. We’ll have more water to work with and give to the things we want to cultivate. Mindfulness is a booming industry for a reason!
Plan your garden.
Back to this drought. When we are dealing with a drought, we conserve water. We plant only what we can water. We seek out plants that need less water to thrive. We are mindful about the water we are using, and remove the weeds so they don’t hog the precious water we are giving to our yard. Just like a garden, taking time to literally map out our garden on paper can be helpful. List the things you want to water, the things demanding space, and work out how to find a balance there.
We need to take the time to plan and cultivate our emotional mind-set “garden.” There are certain areas that when given our time and love, or water, will thrive and bloom. Our marriage, our relationship with our children and healthy friendships. What are healthy friendships, you ask? For me, this is friendship where you get out of the relationship as much as you give. Now, the balance isn’t always there. This is true in all of these relationships. Sometimes we carry the weight of others and their needs, and it can be worth our water. A tree can take years to bear fruit. A spouse dealing with grief or unemployment won’t have much to give us, but our effort will get them out of their drought. Raising kids will take up a lot of water to get them to that bloom, but when they bloom? Totally worth the water.
Sometimes we need to weed our garden.
I have found this to be especially essential in the world of social media. I love it for letting me “be a part” of my far-flung loved ones’ lives, but man is it full of weeds. Politics, comparing our every day to someone else’s highlight reel, following someone for the wrong reasons. All of these are water-sucking weeds in our lives. That last one I have only recently come to truly recognize and has been the hardest weed to pull. I realized that some people were in my feed to make me feel better about myself. I kept them there only for comparison.
These are the friends and acquaintances that we keep tabs on but have no intention of connecting with in a meaningful way. The people you wouldn’t make for time to sit down for a cup of coffee and a chat. If this describes someone who takes up space in your feed and gets your precious water, it’s time to let them go. Hitting the “unfolllow” button can be hard, but if that relationship doesn’t bring you joy, don’t water it. If you follow accounts and only feel disappointed in yourself for not doing or having what you see, pull the weed. Watering our “what-ifs” isn’t going to benefit our garden, so don’t waste your water.