Are You Giving Yourself Enough Time?
I’m not a gardener, but some of my friends are, and a couple of them mentioned that they need to do some planting in the fall. That’s because some plants need a long exposure to the cold before they can germinate.
I got curious about why this is, so I checked online. According to this article, some seeds have a tough outer shell, and the seeds need exposure to cycles of freezing and thawing to break through the shell and allow water to get in.
This got me thinking about people, and how too often we’re impatient for change, not wanting to wait until we’re “softened” enough and ready to germinate. And that impatience can cause problems.
Growing or changing too quickly
Our society doesn’t tend to value patience. One of my favorite phrases to exemplify this is from a silly sketch called Ti Kwan Leap, when someone asks, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, patience, how long will that take?”
This lack of patience makes it tempting to dive head-first into change, especially at the beginning of a new year when so many people are doing the same thing.
But trying to force growth or change when you’re not ready is likely to backfire. Changes won’t stick, and you may end up even further from where you want to be due to backsliding.
Forcing yourself to do things quickly could also negatively impact your mental health. You’re more likely to make mistakes, which can lead to self-doubt and criticism and low self-esteem. None of which will get you where you want to go.
Give yourself the time you need
Another tricky part is that if you say you’re not ready for a change, some people may think there’s something wrong with you. You might even feel that way.
But the reality is, just like the seeds, we’re all ready at different times and in different conditions. Some seeds would die if you put them in the grown when it’s too cold. Others will never sprout if they don’t experience the cold of winter.
People, too, sometimes need to work through the cold and dark places before being ready for change, and that’s okay.
I liked how Katherine May, author of Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times, talked about this in an interview. She talked about pulling her son out of school for a time when he was suffering from extreme anxiety.
She said: “But while he was out of school, we had to spend some time together, learning to winter, teaching him to acknowledge this arc and to see it as a narrative arc, almost: to see it as something that wasn’t permanent, but it was a process he was working through, and he was learning something about himself and what he needed.”
Remembering that these times of dormancy or darkness aren’t permanent is so important. Those periods in your life can feel endless, but eventually, you will get to spring.
Try not to rush
When you’re having a tough time, or you want to change something but can’t seem to get started, you may feel like something is wrong, and that you have to force yourself to push through.
You could do that, but you’re not necessarily going to get the results you want. Instead, if you take the time to learn from the period of darkness, you’ll come out stronger and ready to grow.