Autumn is well and truly upon us, after one of the most glorious summers on record. Warm, bright mornings have been replaced by a distinct chill in the air. Days get shorter and sunlight dwindles - and then, the trees shed their leaves.
Being a psychotherapist, rather than a botanist, I’m not too sure how this process happens, although apparently it involves chlorophyll. (To me, chlorophyll sounds like something akin to botox). What I find fascinating is why trees do it: to save energy. There’s just not enough sunlight to sustain them in the months to come. Shedding their leaves keeps them from using up vital energy, which helps them to survive through the dark winter. Come the spring and the warmer weather, new life is then able to flourish.
What do we do to sustain ourselves through the hard times? In order to allow new people, opportunities or perspectives into our lives, it’s important to able to shed what is no longer necessary or useful to us. Shedding those metaphorical leaves frees up energy and helps us to cope better in the winter to come, whilst also preparing the ground for the spring.
Here are a few of the ways we can feel emotionally stuck and weighed down:
· Others’ expectations
· Harsh self-criticism
· Relationship difficulties
· Feeling like a failure
· Guilt or shame
So why is it so difficult to let go?
· Uncertainty about what the future holds is uncomfortable. Even if your current
life is causing you distress, the prospect of change can still be genuinely daunting.
· Living on autopilot. If you live life like you’re on a hamster wheel, with no time to get off, pause and reflect, change becomes more tricky.
· Comparing our lives with those of other people can make things seem even harder to overcome.
· You don’t know where to start.
· You can’t figure out what’s holding you back – you just know that you are stuck.
Seeking help from others is an effective way to find a new perspective and, more importantly, to get the support to help you through. Reaching out to friends, family members or a professional can be a great first step on the path to getting unstuck and creating a climate for new shoots to grow.