As I was lovingly, working/playing in my garden this morning I started thinking about, self-help, self- improvement and self-development, something was niggling at me about these concepts, but I wasn’t sure what it was or how to express my concerns. So I stumbled about amid my impatiens and lobelia and yes slugs.
Here then are my thoughts. I love my garden, it is a little bit whacky, because it is quite literally the side of a mountain, it has slopes that border on 90 degrees, deer who breakfast, lunch and dinner on anything and everything, it has beautiful trees, and spectacular granite outcrops, and smells of sweetness. It is, in a word, perfect! Simply put, I cherish my garden.
I take care of my garden, by watering it, feeding it, planting just the right plants that accentuate her beauty, I do slug patrol (actually my husband patrols for slugs for me), I stand and admire her and I spend time with her, this is how I cherish my garden. I help, improve and develop her, but I do not try to change what she essentially is, which is a mountain side garden, because then she wouldn’t be my mountain side garden, would she?
I wish we humans would cherish ourselves in the same way! This would mean, seeing our essential beauty, our characters, our selves in a loving kind way. We would accept our “me-ness”, we would take care of ourselves with good water and good food, we would help ourselves, maybe we would remove weeds from our lives that don’t serve us, we would develop ourselves by learning new skills and ways of being in the world. But like my garden, we would not try to change ourselves by changing who we are essentially.
I hope you don’t mind if I share a personal experience of this —
I was born with strong athletic legs, particularly calves. As a kid, I imagined that they were the size of a barn (not a baby barn, a full-sized barn, mind you). I wanted nothing more than to have small delicate calves like the entire rest of the world. As a teen, I wanted the long, slim legs of all the models I saw in magazines. I believed that changing my legs would make me more – more beautiful, more like everyone else, but more different than I was. Somewhere along the way, my understanding of my legs changed and where once I would have done anything to change them, I now cherish them. My strong legs have taken me on thousands of miles of running, countless games of tennis, decades of skiing, beach walks and supported me all my athletic life. I cherish them. I take care of them by doing yoga to keep them supple, by staying hydrated to protect the muscles, by listening when they need to rest and by wearing proper footwear so they aren’t overstrained, but at no time ever do I wish they weren’t my legs!
So my thoughts about self-help, self- improvement and self-development are now clear. If we are seeking self-help, self-improvement, and self-development, as tools to nurture and cherish ourselves, we are honoring our true self. But if we are seeking them to change ourselves from that which is our essence, it becomes an act against the self and a form of self-rejection, rather than self-love and self-acceptance and that is never a good thing.
As always, I hope this guide is helpful. It is dedicated to my clients from whom I have learned so much!
All the best,
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Original article — “Cherish Your Authentic Self”