The Hemp Connection + life

What gardening has taught me about behavior change

Several years ago I asked a neighbor in my condo complex, who at the time was in charge of the grounds, if there was one task that she could assign me that would be my"thing" to give to the condo community.

She showed me a section of grass right by my stairs that had been completely overrun by an aggressive weed. The entire lawn in this section was gone, where it had been completely choked out by this ivy-like covering. This is what the entire lawn looked like back then.

I enjoyed the weed pulling, as it gave my mind time to organize thoughts, and I liked having something to do that had visible evidence of progress at the end of the task.

When the weed was first pulled, the ground looked bare. So bare, in fact, that one of the HOA members asked me to stop pulling it because all that dirt didn't look so pretty.

(I have to admit, I sneaked out at sunrise and sunset for some reconnaissance gardening, because I knew the plot needed to be"unpretty" for awhile in order to give the grass what it needed to grow.)

These days, for the most part, this is what the grass looks like. It's real grass! It's thriving now that it isn't competing with the aggressive weed for oxygen, sun, and water.

Every fall though, when summer temperatures finally drop and it's enjoyable to be outside, I go back to the plot and look for stragglers. They are there, never quite as firmly as when I first started weeding, but some of the roots always break off in the process and come back after time.

This year it occurred to me that this entire ritual of mine is the perfect analogy for what it takes to change a behavior!

1. Looking at all the habits that need to be changed, on the front end, can be overwhelming. It can genuinely feel like there is nothing of value or beauty underneath all the bad habits and"damage".

2. When you have pulled away all the"badness" that you thought needed changing, it can feel pretty bare, raw, ugly…to the point where you'd rather go back and live with the behavioral weeds than wait out the process of new growth and change.

3. Without regular maintenance and self-checks, the old behaviors can creep back in. They've got pretty strong and stubborn roots, just like my weeds.

I thought if I gave you the perspective that change, no matter where it happens in the world…on a lawn, on Facebook, in yourself…has inevitable stages. It's not a perfect process, and sometimes there are events that feel like"backslides".

All that really matters is that you're consistent, no matter what the result of the day may bring. If you are consistent, and patient, and understand that change is not always linear or forward moving, the process forward will outweigh the seemingly backward steps and it WILL occur.

Journal your changes. On days when you're not feeling like you're getting anywhere, ready to toss it all in because it isn't working, flip back a month, 6 months, a year. You might really surprise yourself. Change sometimes happens so gradually you don't realize it's happening.

It does, and it will.

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What gardening has taught me about behavior change + life