Welcome to the Growing Tree of Life, today we are looking into everything you need to know about habit creation.
Trees floating in the air with soil carved around the roots to spell the word GROW.

Are you ready for the next hurricane?

Issue Number: #045
Date: 23 November 2023
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Life is full of storms

The storm will come whether you are ready or not. That's a fact. The only thing we don't know is: "When?"

In 2017, I thought that I could not do anything right.

In the past year, I failed in every single area of my life. All I could think of were all those horrible events I went through. I was a total failure. At least that was how I saw myself. Only when (after my failed attempt at suicide) I focused on creating a fulfilling life did I realize that while I am affected by those challenges and events, I am not defined by them.

Let me show what I mean using the image of the Tree of Life.

I am the gardener. Not the garden nor the tree.

The tree of my life was badly damaged by the storm. The garden was a mess with torn branches scattered around. The soil was washed away from the roots, and the tree was wobbly. There was substantial damage to my life.

I stood amid the destruction, observing the remnants of my life.

But realizing that I am not the garden nor the tree gave me the ability to act. To do something. I was the gardener who had to decide what to do. And while the garden was a mess and the tree nearly toppled, I was not affected.

That changed everything.

We all experience moments when life's storms take over and all we can see is the destruction. Whenever we want to change something, the voice in our head brings out all the past events and failures and tells us that we cannot do it. We are not good enough.

“Here is evidence,” the voice says, “that you are a mess.”

But here's the empowering secret: You are not a mess.

Your garden might be, but not you. You are not broken. The tree has broken branches, but not you. Challenges may affect us, but they don't define us.

A Gardener's Perspective

Imagine your life as a tree in a beautiful, thriving garden. Your circumstances, events, and challenges are the ever-changing weather. Sometimes, storm clouds gather, and rain pours relentlessly. Other times, the sun shines brilliantly, warming your soul. Yet, amidst all the variations, you —the gardener— are not affected.

In this metaphor, you are the skilled gardener. You tend to your tree with love and care. You cultivate the soil, nurturing the essence of your being.

When the storm comes, any damage to the tree or the garden is proof that your design —not you— was faulty.

You didn’t account for the strength of the storms ahead.

And while right now there is damage, you can improve the design, redo the landscape, focus on areas you omitted or neglected and restore the garden to its beauty.

But for that, you need to do one thing.

Just as a seasoned gardener understands that storms are part of nature's course, you too must acknowledge that challenges and stormy events are part of life's journey. Whenever you encounter a setback or face a formidable challenge, remind yourself that it's just one chapter in your journey.

Instead of letting your mind torture you, just tell it: “I messed up but I am not messed up. Now I will make a better version.”

Remember, challenges may affect you, but they don't define you.

I am not bipolar, I have bipolar

My bipolar is a perfect example of how powerful the ability to differentiate between my challenges and my identity is.

During my life, I went through many episodes of highs and lows. They affect my ability to do things, how I behave, and more. Before my diagnosis, I thought that this is who I am. Since I’ve been diagnosed, it changed.

Now I see them as weather, storms which come and go. With each subsequent episode, I am getting better at shielding my life from the possible destruction of their force. I have many different ways how I do it.

One of the things people with bipolar face is unlimited irrational spending while in highs. I ring-fenced my finances. Now I don’t spend money I don’t have because I don’t have any credit cards. When I am going through good weather, I don’t buy new things. I leave them on the list. When the whirlwind comes, I have money set aside and a list of things to buy, so I spend. On the things I need anyway. I eat my cake and keep it.

Another thing is the relationships. I have friends who know. They are OK when I withdraw. They know what is going on. But they check on me, regularly. Offer companionship without pressure. Sometimes I accept, sometimes I stay alone. But when the storm passes, I make sure to come back, to deepen the connection and strengthen the ties.

Knowing that I am the gardener and the episodes are the weather helped me to avoid many disasters. I am able to improve the design of my garden every time because I am not battling against myself.

I don’t blame myself when damage occurs.

I clean up the mess as much as possible and prepare the garden and the tree of my life for the next storm.

And that’s my tip today:
Grow resilience not resentment.

You are not your failures.

You are the gardener, and your task is to improve your garden design, to make it more weather-proof. Life's storms may test the resilience of the tree of your life and your garden, but they can never define who you are.

Like a skilled gardener learn when to protect delicate blossoms from the rain and when to let them bask in the sun.

That’s all for today. May your week be filled with sunshine so you can prepare for the next hurricane.

Thank you for reading.


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