Weeding Our Thoughts

Weeding Our Thoughts | Home Heart Haven

I was absent-mindedly pulling a few weeds while my son was waiting to be picked up for school.

What are you doing Mum?
Pulling out the weeds.

So there’s room for the plants we want to grow there.

Oh. You mean like worry thoughts and happy thoughts?* What will happen if you don’t pull out the weeds?
The weeds will take over and there won’t be enough space for the plants we want to grow.

Oh. That makes sense.

Simple really.

*Nicky Johnston’s series of children’s books uses the concept of worrythoughts and happythoughts to help little worriers gain confidence.

My little man is a worrier. Some of that I assume he has got from me and some is just a part of who he is. We’ve been spending a lot of time and energy helping him understand and then manage his worries so he can feel more confident, more positive. He is learning skills that I only developed as an adult and he often shares insights that leave me gaping and sure he’s been here before.

Thoughts are like plants. They germinate, grow, blossom and flourish given the right circumstances. It is only our judgement that decides whether they are plants or weeds. Helpful or not helpful.

Ignoring a weed in the garden, pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it go away. Chances are it will continue to take hold.

Ripping the weed out in anger is also not the solution. Bits of root get left behind, ready to grow again. Who is left feeling bad? You.

The middle path can show us the way – mindfulness, detached awareness.

Oh, there’s a plant there that is not helping to create the garden I want. Let’s gently set you aside to make space for the plants I want to flourish.

No judgement. No anger. No struggle.

Ease. Calm. Peace.

I first encountered this approach when reading The Inner Game series of books at university in relation to performance nerves and later when working with a therapist who used Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Mindfulness is such a powerful tool. No wonder Buddhists have been practising it for centuries.

So allow those thoughts to be. Acknowledge them. But that’s all they are. Thoughts. Notice the unhelpful ones and set them gently aside.

Like in the garden, weeding our thoughts is a continual process that is never finished. Some seasons are easier or harder than others depending on the conditions we find ourselves in. But regular attention helps our chosen ‘flowers’ from becoming completely overwhelmed by pesky weeds.

How do you deal with unhelpful thoughts?

Caz x

15 thoughts on “Weeding Our Thoughts

    1. Thanks Kirri. I had started it moons ago but the time seemed right to finish and refine it given the focus of the past few weeks. Lots of blooms for all the sisters xx

    1. Thanks Anna. He has his days like all children but it’s wonderful to witness the connections he makes. x

  1. i need to get my hands on those children’s book. I’m a teacher and some of my students are ‘little worriers’ too. Such a beautiful concept, thanks for sharing x

  2. I wish my parents would have read a book like that to me as I was growing up. I’ve always been a worrier– something I think I get from my mom!– but I had to learn as I’ve grow up how to manage and not be consumed by it. I love how the concept of worry thought and happy thought makes the choice between the two seem much less daunting. I’m definitely still learning to pull the weeds GENTLY, but baby steps to greatness right?

    Melody // http://www.marevoli.com

    1. Yes, Melody, baby steps indeed. That’s taken me a long time to learn so go gently on yourself while you’re learning what works for you. x

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by Maxabella. I hope it helps make some connections for your little ones. x

  3. Just beautiful. I’m going to share a friend, for her little boy who also worries. Lovely and helpful ideas here. Thanks Caz xx

    1. Thanks Katie. My hope is for all our little worriers to grow up with the strategies to manage without denying their innate sensitive natures. x

  4. I just love that analogy. Your little boy sounds like a beautiful, deep thinker. I was a worrier when I was little and my mum (bless her cotton socks) didn’t understand and was maybe a little harsh with me, trying to toughen me up. But I’ve learned it’s okay to be sensitive (it’s taken me a while to accept this). Your little boy sounds very lucky to have you and those books!

    1. Thanks Katherine. Yes, my little man is a deep thinker and feeler. I’m so glad you’ve grown to accept that in your nature. x

  5. This is just a beautiful post. I love the idea of pulling weeds to make room for the flowers. ACT was one of the most wonderful things to happen to me – the happiness trap book changed my life. Falling more in love with your blog by the minute 🙂

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