Thriving as a pansy in a windy, desert world

“Consider the lilies (or the pansies) of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.” Matthew 6:28

ImageWhen it comes to life’s character building moments, I can be such a pansy.

And like a pansy, I’m really good at putting on a bright flowery show as if I have an abundance of inner strength. But I’m really only one strong wind from having my blossoms blown off.

There are times I wish I had the steady inner oak tree fortitude that some of my friends seem to possess when faced with challenging circumstances. They might be scarred by a bolt of lightning but they’re still standing as strong as they ever were.

Instead, a strong freeze could wither my roots if I don’t pay attention to the temperature of the soil I’m grounded in and spend time providing protective cover.

My preference for life is like the pansy’s: full sunlight in moderate temperatures with plenty of water. Lately, though, several blustery winds and extreme dips and rises in temperature have threatened to wilt my bright, beautiful blooms.

The laundry list is extensive but basically falls into the same categories as everyone else’s: financial stress and family health concerns. Who doesn’t experience these life stressors? Do other people’s heads veer off into a land of the worst outcome like mine does? There was a time in my life when my mind would stay in that rocky soil, but with practice, I’ve learned how to regenerate my thinking process so I can live in fertile, productive ground most of the time, regardless of life’s events.

As I’ve been building my practice as a mental health counselor, I’ve discovered this line of dust devil thoughts isn’t uncommon. Fortunately, there is help for the pansies of life.

Some strategies I offer to clients and to tame my own worries to provide a more temperate climate for the pansy spirit, include:

1. As soon as I am aware of a degradation in my thoughts, I force myself to think the most positive outcome for the particular situation I am worried about.

2. Visualize a stop sign (bordered by pansies or your favorite nature scene).

3. Pay attention to your breath. If you’re able to, try to move it into a deep belly breath.

4. While you are regulating your breathing, meditate on God and how God is bigger than your problems. “Consider the lilies (or the pansies) of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin.” Matthew 6:28

5. Drink a glass of water.

6. Listen to a comedy podcast or watch a funny video or television show.

7. Type or hand write a list of all of the worries you have. Writing down your thoughts is like putting them in a treasure chest for safekeeping.  This action honors your particular mental wiring.

8. Exercise.

9. Think on a phrase that gives you comfort, such as “this, too, shall pass” or “diamonds are formed under pressure.”

10. Discuss your concerns with a trained mental health counselor.

If you are a person who tends to think negatively before thinking positively, be okay with that. Heavy rains and strong winds tend to beat down pansies. But we don’t not plant pansies because they are less hardy then other plants. Instead, we learn that with extra care and attention, pansies can survive and thrive even after harsh conditions.

 

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