People are very much like plants.
Plants need four things to grow – soil, time, sunlight and water.
We are in fact exactly the same.
All the time we are incubating seedlings of wisdom that are waiting to blossom. We are fertile ground.
We tell people how they should be growing their little plants, which is madness really. Your plant maybe a rose, and mine may be a cactus. If I applied the same requirements as you — lots of water in a temperate climate — my cactus will end up all shrivelled up.
Yet, we say to others, you should grow like this, and you should grow like that, thinking that is best for them. This is only because it worked for our plant, but it may not work at all for theirs. We could be twisting their little plant to grow in a way it doesn’t want to.
We may also become impatient with other people’s growth process, demanding that they grow faster, that they act now. But no matter how much you yell at a plant, it will still grow at its own pace, because plants need time and patience to grow.
Plants also need sunlight and water. This also will come naturally. As time passes, there will be inner weather changes. Sometimes we have days of bright, warm sunlight within, making us feel bursting with happiness and hope.
But other days we are surrounded by dense clouds of sadness. They can become heavier and heavier, eventually enveloping us into darkness.
Fear not, because these very clouds will provide you with the second key ingredient to grow your seedling: water. Your very tears will be welcome nourishment for your little plant of wisdom inching towards the sky.
As with all things in life we need a optimal balance of sunlight and water for our plants. Individual balances may vary — some plants may need more sunlight, others may need more rain.
However, sometimes we may find ourselves being enveloped in thick, dark clouds for long periods of time. They can become so dense that we cannot pierce through them with our own little sunlight. Being in darkness for so long is unlikely to help our plant to grow.
Luckily no man is an island, and we have other people around us who can lend a helping hand. They can share their light when we can’t shine it on ourselves. There is another word for this — love.
Often when other people consciously share their sunlight with us, our clouds will naturally start to rain. They can, in fact, pour. Floods of tears will come flowing down, and the rain will pitter and patter until your clouds will start to disappear. Eventually you will start to see the shimmering of your own sunlight again.
And your plant can bask in its warmth.
Now remember, sharing sunlight doesn’t mean trying to forcibly blast someone’s clouds away through pushing happiness on them. This can be very counterproductive. Yet, people using this method often can get frustrated as to why the other person is not responding to their happy bomb.
The reason is simple. If you are throwing a happy bomb at someone, often (but not always) you are indirectly saying, “you shouldn’t be sad”. In other words, “I don’t want to accept you as you are”. This tends to be because people do not like to accept the clouds of sadness within themselves, so they do not want to be reminded of them through other people.
This is where remembering that people are like plants is so important. People’s little plants benefit from the sadness. They are nourished by tears. As such, accepting people as they are, in that moment in time, is crucial. Also, remember that plants need time to grow, so no amount of blasting with happy bombs will speed up the process.
Sunlight is love, and love is unconditional acceptance. It is a state of being. It is to warmly radiate your own sunlight on someone, gently telling them “you can be exactly who you are“.
Another mistake people make is to go in the polar opposite direction when trying to help people with clouds. Thinking that it’s inappropriate to be happy around them, they instead draw out their own clouds of gloom. Although on the surface this may seem like a form of empathy, in the long run this equally doesn’t help, because instead you are just darkening each other’s clouds together.
Note that you will find that some people actually want to stay with their clouds of gloom. These people will prefer to be with people who darken their clouds further. This is fine if that is what people want. However, whilst this may give these people a temporary feeling of satisfaction, ultimately the little plant of wisdom will not grow by staying continuously in darkness.
Ultimately, our plants need their own unique mixture of of soil, time, rain and sunlight.
As we go through cycles of rain and sunlight through the passing of time, sometimes aided by the sunlight of others, you will find that what was initially a little seedling inside…
…will eventually sprout a stunning flower that radiates both deep insight and beauty.
What kind of a plant do you have? 🙂
The idea that people are like plants was one I had during my winter months of darkness.
I have learnt the importance of patience when it comes to self-development. Often I beat myself up for not feeling better quickly. But now I know that my plant will grow at its own pace. The best thing I can do for it is to lovingly accept it as it is.
I have also learnt the importance of accepting your sadness. We live in a hyper-positive world where the social expectation is that we need to be super duper happy all of the time. I’m sure I’m part of a large majority of people who see crying as a ‘weakness’ – even if it’s on a subconscious level. Although we may say to others that crying is ok, we still don’t want others to see us cry, and we feel uncomfortable when others do. I picked up the idea that “crying = bad” at a very young age and I remember holding in a lot of tears as a young girl. This is maybe why I cry so much now. I think I’m crying for the young girl inside that didn’t think she was allowed to cry.
Our plants need both sunlight and water. Our tears are crucial for our own emotional development. I once heard a beautiful quote – “Two things bring us closer to God, prayer and tears”. Crying can be the exact catharsis that we need. The only reason why I have some of the deep insights on life that I have today is because a few of my little plants have sprouted after years of going through both sunlight and rain. My “rainy seasons” (i.e. periods of depression) I know so far have been crucial for my own development.
Maybe I have tropical plants 😉
I also wrote this blog because I’ve been thinking a lot about how to help people who find themselves in thick clouds of darkness. Seeing what helps me has taught me a lot. I talk in this entry about the things that don’t help people with dark clouds, and that’s because I have made all of the mistakes I mention here. I have thrown happy bombs and I have further darkened others people’s clouds. I know I still make these mistakes, but then I’m only reminded about how they don’t work. Conversely I have been on the receiving end of both types of approaches, and I know that they have not helped me.
I have learnt that if someone can’t pierce through their dark clouds, just be with them and shine your sunlight of acceptance. This sometimes may mean just sitting with someone in silence. Then let the magic of time take over. Finally I want to extend my special thanks to JW and CH who have shared their wonderful sunlight with me during these recent cloudy times.