To Start Healing, First Stop The Hurting

First Published: January 2022 by Nextions LLC

It was my daughter’s first Christmas home after being away at college, and I decided to buy a small lemon tree for our home as a holiday surprise for her. Her school campus has lemon, lime, and orange trees everywhere, and I thought it would be nice to have a little piece of California in Chicago. When I got the tree, it was lush and thriving, and within a week, it lost all its leaves and looked like this.

I don’t possess the greenest thumb in the world, but a plant had never before died this quickly on my watch. I started doing everything I could think of to revive it — I bought organic soil and fertilizer that’s specialized for citrus plants. I repotted it and watered it and even bought it a plant light so that it could get some light in the dreary Chicago weather. I messed with this poor plant for days, trying something new every day. No matter what I did, the plant’s branches became drier with each day, and there was no life where the new shoots should have been sprouting.

After a couple of weeks of seeing nothing work, I called a friend of mine who is a gifted gardener. I sent her pictures of my dying plant and told her everything I had done to save the plant. She listened to me chatter for a while, and then she told me that the first step in helping the plant revive was to stop hurting it.

Hurting it??? I insisted that I had done nothing to hurt it. I had been doing everything I could to help it revive and to grow. “It knows how to grow,” my friend told me. “Stop trying to make it grow. You are getting in its way.” She told me to make sure that the soil didn’t dry out but to otherwise leave the plant alone.

I did as she asked and prepared for the plant to die. A few days later, I walked by and saw this.

I sent my friend pictures, and she congratulated me on learning that the first step in healing is to stop hurting. She also reminded me to continue to leave the plant alone so that it could keep growing.

I reflected on this lemon plant and my friend’s sage advice several times as I focused on the transition from 2021, to 2022. As an earnest goal setter, I’m always excited to dive deep into planning what I need to do in the new year. This year, I thought about what my resolutions would look like if I focused on doing less, if I focused on letting go of the things that made me feel bad instead of doing more of what I thought would make me happy.

Like the lemon plant, our bodies, minds, and spirits know how to heal…if we just stop doing — or allowing — things to hurt them. This is counterintuitive for our go-go-go culture, but the last couple of years have taught us that stopping or pausing sometimes is better for us. We cannot heal if we don’t first let go of what’s hurting us. We cannot be well if we don’t first stop what’s making us unwell.If you have already made your resolutions for 2022, revisit them to see if there is something you need to stop doing first.

If you haven’t made any resolutions, think of a couple of things you can commit to letting go of and stopping.

I wish you a healthy and happy 2022!

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Arin N. Reeves

a fierce advocate for justice, a geeky catalyst for smarter thinking on inclusion and equity & a firm believer that most rules were meant to be broken