That’s a sort of poetic and philosophical title for a process that a lot of us don’t do often enough, or proactively. Often times we wait for things (big dramas, upheaval) to “happen” to us to create the necessary change we require in our lives. But that doesn’t have to be the only way. We can take a more conscious approach to the care and nurturing of our souls by starting with the environment we provide for its growth.
Have a look at this quote:
We spend too much time with those who poison us with pessimism, sloth, and low expectations of themselves and the world. It is often the case that you have to fire certain friends or retire from particular social circles to have the life you want. This isn’t being mean; it is being practical. Poisonous people do not deserve your time. To think otherwise is masochistic.
When I read this quote just today by Tim Ferriss (in his breakout bestseller from 2007, The 4-Hour Workweek), I highlighted it. These are words of wisdom, people. Let’s examine the particulars.
Where did we learn that we’re obligated to maintain relationships that don’t nurture and sustain us?
Perhaps in our upbringing we were told to just “be quiet and smile” or we learned through experience that if we didn’t change to conform to what other people wanted from us, we risked rejection or abandonment. Ok. That’s all valid experience and not to be discounted.
However, we’re grown adults now and we don’t have to live in the past or delegate our life’s happiness to other people or their expectations for us. Ultimately, who is living your life? Who reaps the rewards or the heartache of the decisions that you make, consciously or unconsciously?
I realized the truth of this “weeding out” process when I actively decided to ask for a divorce from my husband two years ago, after 10 years together and three children. It was the most drastic decision I had ever made in my life. It was quite possibly one of the only—if not the only—decisions I ever made in my marriage that exclusively affirmed my inner truth and my soul’s truth without a shadow of a doubt. Sad but true, and yet also extremely self-empowering and liberating.
This began a snowball effect of weeding out all types of dysfunctional and pathological relationships in my life on all different levels. Suddenly I had the confidence to stop catering to people who did nothing but drain me and take from me. Since I was actively choosing to give up the idea of “everything” through my marriage, now it was much easier to in turn liberate myself from the people in my life who were great at “being nice” but ultimately did nothing to sustain me or support me for who I really am inside. In fact, once I had chose to sever the most important relationship in my life in favor of my own well-being, suddenly it made no sense to maintain other poisonous relationships as well.
Now, while I’m certainly not suggesting that this “weeding out” process has to necessarily involve decisions as drastic as the ones I describe, I do think that it’s essential that we take a look every once in a while at the “garden” we’re providing for our soul, and see if it isn’t time to do a bit of healthy weeding to promote growth.
Why do we feel obligated to “be nice”?
I read the most bizarre quote on a Facebook wall not too long ago. The discussion was about how to handle friend requests from people we don’t want to have as Facebook friends. There were lots of back and forths, but the one that struck me the most was this: “Here’s what I do: I accept their friend request and then block them. That way I don’t have to be seen as being mean.”
I was floored. It struck me as so dishonest and passive-aggressive on many levels, and yet, it got a bunch of “likes” and people saying what a great idea that was.
What in God’s name is wrong with us when it becomes accepted and applauded to maintain false relationships in the name of “being nice”? And why in the world do we always have to “be nice” anyways? Wouldn’t better advice sound more like “be your authentic self” or “be honest about who you are and what you really want”? What are we so afraid of by admitting that we don’t want certain people in our lives? There’s no need to be aggressive about it. It’s simply a matter of personal choice, which we all have a right to.
I offer this in response, from Margaret Thatcher, someone who was strongly disliked by many but achieved a lot:
If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.
Recently I referred to The Tower as a “helpful housecleaning” card. Some people don’t agree about the “helpful” part of it, but I contend that the energies surrounding a card of catastrophic change be viewed as CONSTRUCTIVE rather than DESTRUCTIVE. Let’s look for a moment at the word catastrophic and its origins:
1530s, “reversal of what is expected” (especially a fatal turning point in a drama), from Latin catastropha, from Greek katastrophe “an overturning; a sudden end,” from katastrephein “to overturn, turn down, trample on; to come to an end.”
As humans, we like to be safe and protected, because it probably comes down to a healthy and instinctive sense of self-preservation. That being said, we are generally averse to a “reversal of what is expected” and “an overturning; a sudden end.” And yet sometimes, a sudden end, or a reversal of what is expected, is exactly what’s needed to turn over the soil in the fallow land of our soul, in order to prepare it for new seeding and growth. This is also similar to the energy of Uranus in our natal charts and transits in astrology.
We weed our gardens in order to cut out the ugly things that stifle growth of the beautiful. So why wouldn’t we treat our souls and our inner lives with the same care and consideration that we devote to a physical garden? To cultivate beauty and truth, you have to cut away lies, manipulation, and factors that take nutrients away. If there are people in your life who are like weeds that are keeping your sunflower from turning towards the sun, why are you allowing them to continue to hold you back?
No one ever said that constructive growth was easy. You should never expect “easy” in your spiritual path. But you can expect rewards for your courage and for putting your soul first.
“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” –Helen Keller