How Problems Grow Roots
I hope you’re doing well! And I hope today’s article is helpful for you or someone close to heart.
We’ll begin with a series of images before breaking things down. But first, take a moment to think of a current, specific problem or challenge in your life. The problem can be related to relationships, career, self-growth, fear, or anything else you’re facing.
Got it? Okay, moving on.
This plant represents your problem. Maybe the plant represents how un-appreciated you feel in your marriage. Maybe the plant is a dishonest business partner who you’re afraid to confront. The plant could be your poor eating habits. Or it could be the fact that you haven’t spoken with your father in seven years, even though he’s been calling you every Christmas to make amends.
Above the ground represents your external world. Notice how the plant is relatively small, manageable. Yes, it’s popping up fresh & proud towards the sun, but with a little awareness and effort, you can dislodge that sucker in no time! Now take a look at its roots and how shallow underground they extend.
Below ground represents your internal world. That plant is barley rooted! Once again, with a little awareness and effort, at the onset of any problem, you can easily uproot it!
But what happens when you choose to ignore your problem and internalize it instead?
Now the problem appears to have disappeared - on the surface that is - but over time, as the problem persists because you continue to 1) leave it unaddressed, 2) ignore the way you really feel about it, or 3) turn a blind eye because you don’t have the courage/stamina/know-how to fix it, here’s what ends up happening -
How on earth are you going to uproot this plant now!?? The roots represent the deep-set, internal issues, mindsets, and hinderances that grow when you leave your problem unattended. Look at the picture again. See how those roots are spreading!? They’re no longer only affecting one particular area of your life, but likely - the internalization and suppression of your problem is causing you to feel tension and un-ease in other areas of your life as well.
What was once a manageable weed to pull, has now spread like a plague to your entire garden and become an underground disaster! Now you’ll need to hire an entire team of diggers, a gigantic truck, and a whole archeological team to excavate the site to be sure that every last one of those little roots is exhumed. Yikes!!
So what do you do? Let’s break this down using real world examples of some common challenges:
Take out a piece of paper and a pen (markers or colored pencils are even better.) Summon the artist within, and draw a picture of a little plant sprouting up from the ground. Then, think of one particularly irksome, ongoing problem in your life. You can use the problem you imagined at the start of this article, or come up with a new one. Label your plant as that problem.
At this point in the exercise, it may help to also think of all the external ways that this problem is manifesting itself in your life. Remember: we’re not addressing the internal effects of your problem just yet - only the external manifestations. For example, one external manifestation of a problem relating to money and values may be: “My spouse and I fight habitually over our spending.” An external manifestation of a problem relating to a sub-standard employee may be: “My company lost out on a lucrative business deal due to an employee’s negligence.” An external symptom of a problem regarding your emotional eating habits may be: “I keep gaining weight.”
Now comes the time to contemplate all of the unseen, interior ways this problem has been affecting you. For example, let’s focus on our married couple. One example of an interior hiccup might be: “The stress of my spouse’s spending is causing me to lose sleep.” That’s one, scraggly root; draw it in your picture and label it. Also: “My spouse and I have started to distrust each other because of our secretive spending.” That’s another nasty root; draw it and label it. And: “I feel unstable because we have zero savings for an emergency.” Another thick root. And: “I am deeply saddened that I’m unable to take a trip to Hawaii this spring with my cousins. I act like I am okay with it, but I’m not. In reality, I’ve been looking forward to this trip for years and am crushed I won’t be able to attend.” That’s a whole lot of deep, scraggly, spreading roots; draw each of them and label them accordingly!
Keep on going. Get it all out - every little way your problem is affecting you. Write it all down.
How to uproot your plant: okay, now it’s time to draw a Blanchard CAT 6040/6040 FS Hydraulic Shovel Truck.
If your picture looks a little different than the one above, I guess that’s okay. Then, create a list of possible solutions next to your CAT truck. Sticking with the marriage/money example, our list may read something like this:
1) Schedule time to sit down with my spouse and discuss our spending from this past year as well as our shared and individual goals for the next 3 years, and how our finances tie into those goals. We must decide on a list of priorities that we plan to save for together so we can get excited about working towards a collaborative financial goal.
2) Create a budget for our spending that we stick to religiously until we are in a more stable financial state.
3) Discuss with spouse the option of re-arranging our checking & savings accounts in a fashion that best supports our individual and collective financial goals.
4) Forgive each other for the past, and make a vow to each other that no matter what, we will remain open and honest with each other about finances and spending, always.
5) Speak with a professional (or take our financially successful acquaintance out for dinner) and ask for general advice on investing, mortgage re-financing, retirement plans (whatever it is you need!).
Remember: No matter what your persistent ‘plant problem’ may be, and no matter how deeply underground those roots may already have grown, it’s never too late to address the problem and work on ways to bring more ease, success, and fulfillment into your life.