Updated: Feb 2, 2019
Hi! Welcome back to the Live Your Best Plant Life Mini Course. If this is your first visit, you can catch up on previous exercises here: Live Your Best Plant Life Mini Course.
Last week we looked at very tactile 'environmental challenges; having enough light, space, money or time to maintain more plants. However, there are many techniques and tools for gardening under resource constraints. I challenged you to consider if those were really the things holding you back.
This week we are going to examine mindsets around maintaining plants. Hopefully this will help you clearly identify what is standing in the way of the plant life you want.
Part 1: The Quiz
In the quiz below, I've included some mindsets that may challenge your growing plant life. Download the printable quiz here: Internal Challenges
Once you complete the quiz, note any areas you rated a three or higher. For those areas rated three or higher, follow up with the related exercises in the sections below.
Part 2: The Exercises
#1 Fear and Frustration: I don’t know what to do/I’m afraid of wasting time and energy on something I don’t know will work out
Do feelings of frustration or fear dominate when thinking about your plant life? Does regret or shame over past mistakes, cause you to hesitate? This might sound pretty dramatic for plants, but it’s actually not that big of a stretch.
I myself have battled with feelings of shame in my plant life. I have made grand plans to garden and spent time and money getting supplies. I then let my plants wither and die as I ignored them a few weeks later. My willingness to try again became tied up with feelings of regret. I felt bad about wasting money and not following through. I became skeptical that I would do better if I tried again. I even felt that I didn't deserve to try again. I wanted something in my life that I was fully capable of adding to my life, but I constantly hesitated.
Do you have a similar story? In this and indeed in any area of your life, it’s important to live in the now.
Today is all you have - so today - will you do better or do nothing?
If you try and a plant dies - it’s okay. There is a reason scientists still do research on plants - there is so much that we don’t know. So don’t worry about being an expert - even the experts don’t know everything. To keep gardening fun - take a trial and error approach.
Feeling overwhelmed with the information available? Try deciding on one book, blog, or vlog. Set time limits when you do seek information so you don’t get lost in an unending web-search.
If you haven't yet done so, check out this resource on 'searching smart", part of a series from earlier this year on simplifying garden preparation. The Search Smart strategies will help you stay organized and efficient when searching.
Also - ask me! I'm constantly learning just like you but we can work together to figure things out.
Most importantly, I encourage you to make a commitment to try again. You may commit to a full scale summer garden. Or to growing flowers in your home this fall and winter. You may commit to keeping herbs on a windowsill, or a potted plant on your desk. Whatever a step forward will be for you, commit to taking that step.
What will you commit to today?
2: It’s not convenient to get plants and equipment
There are very few things that you can’t have shipped to your home these days. Plants and gardening supplies can be ordered online like everything else. If you feel this is a constraint - why? Is it that you don’t know what you want and need to browse live plants first? If so, a trip to a garden center might be worth it. Along with inspiration and expertise, many nurseries deliver if you can’t carry the items home with you.
Another idea is to be an observer of plants in your everyday life. Pay attention when you’re out and take photos of plants that you like. You can then look them up later and order online. Trips to botanical gardens or historic homes are another fun way to see plants in person. The American Public Gardens Association has a neat interactive map to help you find a garden or botanic center in your area. https://www.publicgardens.org/about-public-gardens/gardens
Live outside the USA? Or just feeling adventurous? Botanic Gardens Conservation International maintains a Global Directory of the world's botanic gardens (along with other helpful tools): http://www.bgci.org/garden_search.php
Think of the world as your garden center, and realize you have daily opportunities to see, touch, and feel plants.
#3: I don’t think it’s worth it when I can buy fruit/vegetables/flowers from the store Gardening can be a cost effective way to grow produce. For example, from a single tomato seed you can grow a plant that produces 30 pounds of tomatoes. But the value of gardening is so much more! There are mental, emotional and physiological benefits of plants that you simply won’t get going to a grocery store. If you'd like to learn more I recommend the book - The Nature Principal by Richard Louv: http://richardlouv.com/books/nature-principle/.
He references hundreds of scientific studies about the health impact of plants and nature. He also includes a 'field guide' on his website with a 80+ resources for making nature more of a priority in your life: http://richardlouv.com/books/nature-principle/field-guide/
When you consider the physiological and mental benefits of plants - there is value there! Move beyond the perspective of 'what is the quickest, cheapest way to get tomatoes in my salad?'. Allow yourself to enjoy the process. I bet you’ll find yourself experiencing added values in broader areas of your life.
Hopefully these tips will empower you to create the plant life you truly want. One last idea! To stay encouraged and moving forward, verbally declare your freedom from limiting beliefs. I've created a set of 'Plant-Life Affirmation Cards" that you can print and use weekly.
Wait, wait! Don't roll your eyes or brush it off yet. I know it may sound like one of the least practical things in the world to suggest. But there is actually a significant body of scientific research proving the effectiveness of self-affirmation exercises. Check out the video to learn more.
First - A Video Disclaimer: I am not a neuroscientist! I'm an agroecologist and a science nerd but that's all. What I share in the video is my understanding from reading science articles. If you want to fact-check me - please do! I've included references at the bottom of the post.
So, what do you think? Willing to give it a try? Grab your affirmation cards here: Plant Life Affirmation Cards and let me know how it goes!
Meanwhile - get a head start boosting your plant life. Check out the Effortless Container Gardening Blog Series for tips on what to plant now.
Enjoying this course, or have suggestions for improvement? Let me know with a comment below.
Plant Love for Life,
Dr. Victoria LeBeaux,
Founder, Hortiki Plants
References: The Science of Self-Affirmations
*Note - I have included a combination of peer-reviewed science journals and lay-articles so there is something for everyone. If you are as fascinated by this subject as I am and want to go deeper, you can find links to the original scientific study within the articles themselves. Have Fun!
"Benefits Of Self-Affirmation - Carnegie Mellon University | CMU". 2013. Cmu.Edu. https://www.cmu.edu/homepage/health/2013/summer/benefits-of-self-affirmation.shtml.
Cohen, Geoffrey L., and David K. Sherman. "The psychology of change: Self-affirmation and social psychological intervention." Annual review of psychology 65 (2014). https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-psych-010213-115137
Cascio, Christopher N., Matthew Brook O’donnell, Francis J. Tinney, Matthew D. Lieberman, Shelley E. Taylor, Victor J. Strecher, and Emily B. Falk. "Self-affirmation activates brain systems associated with self-related processing and reward and is reinforced by future orientation." Social cognitive and affective neuroscience 11, no. 4 (2015): 621-629. https://academic.oup.com/scan/article/11/4/621/2375054
Jarrett, Christian. 2015. "Brain Scans Can Help Explain Why Self-Affirmation Works". The Cut. https://www.thecut.com/2015/11/why-self-affirmation-works.html#.
Legault, Lisa. 2012. "Self-Affirmation Enhances Performance, Makes Us Receptive To Our Mistakes". Association For Psychological Science. https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/self-affirmation-enhances-performance-makes-us-receptive-to-our-mistakes.html.
Murphy Paul, Annie. 2016. "SI News: Research Highlight—Values Affirmations | Summer Institutes On Scientific Teaching". Summer Institutes On Scientific Teaching. https://www.summerinstitutes.org/single-post/2016/09/16/SI-News-Research-Highlight%E2%80%94Values-Affirmations.
"Study Reveals The Neural Mechanics Of Self-Affirmation | Annenberg School For Communication". 2015. Asc.Upenn.Edu. https://www.asc.upenn.edu/news-events/news/study-reveals-neural-mechanics-self-affirmation.
Walker, Melissa. 2014. "The Surprising Science Of Self-Affirmations". Yahoo.Com. https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/the-surprising-science-of-self-affirmations-104934691032.html.