When you know how strong your roots are, the storm doesn't seem so scary.
On the south west side of the Isle of Wight, a beautiful island just off the south coast of England, the grassy Downland slopes toward the sea into the teeth of an almost constant prevailing wind. In a storm the winds here can reach over 100mph, yet thorn bushes like the one in the picture cling to life on the hillside and although they are shaped by the wind, they still burst into blossom each Springtime.
I love these little bushes and to see them in all their tenacity and resilience always makes my heart sing.
Obviously, they survive because they have good strong roots set into soil that is rich enough to feed them - there's certainly no shortage of rain! Interestingly, the chalky soil here is really thin, so these bushes must have pretty amazing roots.
My 55 years of life have known quite a few storms. Some of them have been the full 100mph job that has been enough to scare me witless and send me diving for cover. The thing that interests me is how I've managed to cling on and why it is that I now look back on those storms as my best times of growth.
Well, I think it's all to do with roots. It goes without saying that people have roots in terms of their family heritage, but I'm talking here about our internal root system, the system that supports our mental health, sense of belonging and our faith in the future and its possibilities.
With all of my clients, I focus on this root system as a way of firming up their confidence in themselves, in their analysis of their world and their sense of belonging in their own lives.
So let's check out the three principal root systems: core values, healthy inner relationships and connection to others.
Core Values: Ask yourself what your irreducible values are. They might be things like kindness, honesty, courage or being of service to others. Write yours down.
Healthy Inner Relationships: Our inner lives can be complicated. We carry what can feel like a whole family within us; the voice of the child who's horrible experience still bubbles up from time to time, the voice of our inner critic telling us how useless we are, the inner teenager who wants it now and hang the cost. Unless these relationships can be managed in a healthy way, this root will wither and struggle to carry the nutrients we need. Write a list of the members of your inner family.
Connection to Others: We are social animals. Our well-being is absolutely grounded on our connection to others. We know that loneliness can have an effect on our health equivalent to smoking twenty cigarettes a day. Write a list of those who help you to be healthily connected to others; good, trustworthy friends etc. Also notice any desire you have to make further and deeper connection maybe giving your gifts and talents for the benefit of others i.e. those who share your core values.
Together, the three strands form your root system. Sometimes the storm will rage and sometimes drought may hit and the nourishment from your root system may feel a little bit thin and unsatisfying. However, as long as you are in touch with those roots and know that you have to pay them attention and give them respect and nurture, then you'll cling on bravely to your bit of hillside and the blossom of Spring will break forth in riotous joy!