The Giving Tree gave so much that it had nothing left to give – are you a “Giving Tree” to those around you?
In the wonderful and poignant book, The Giving Tree (by Shel Silverstein) a tree meets a young boy who plays in her branches and with her leaves. Over the years, as the boy grows older, his needs change and, in response, the Giving Tree gives first of her fruit, then her branches, and then finally her trunk – giving everything she had and was – to those around her…
When I was younger and read this book, I was deeply touched. Over my years of work as a doctor, I’ve seen many, many ‘Giving Trees’ in my clinic room. Maybe you’re one of them…
A ‘Giving Tree’ personality is someone who has the following attributes. As you read them, tick off in your mind whether you fit any of these (or all of them!!):
- Always considers the needs of others first
- Always puts themselves last
- Always does acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and service for others
- Wears themselves out for others
- Rarely, if ever, takes time out for themselves
If you fit most or all of these descriptors, then your ‘Giving Tree’ nature may be making you sick – and I’d like to share with you some suggestions regarding how you can give yourself some love and attention.
I have some mango trees on my property. I never cared for them; I never pruned them; I never fertilised them. Then, at the beginning of this summer, when I went to see what bounties they had provided me, I saw that they had been uniformly hit with some blight. The fruit was small, dry and bitter. So, I trimmed back the branches, fertilised the ground, and watered the plants. I did so each week for a number of weeks. Then, last weekend, I got some fruit from them – and the difference was incredible! The fruit was sweet and juicy – and all it took was some love, care and attention…
You Can’t Thrive Without Care
If my mango trees can’t thrive without care – you definitely can’t either. This is because if you are continually giving and giving and giving – all of your energetic, emotional and physical nutrients are leaving you to go to others. And if you don’t ‘fertilise’ yourself regularly through care, love and support – you won’t have enough ‘nutrients’ to remain healthy – and you’ll get sick – and then see me…
A Little ‘Fertilising’, ‘Watering’ and ‘Pruning’ Go a Long Way
Rather than have you come to see me when you’re really sick – why don’t we look at a better way of living? Why don’t we do some ‘fertilising’, ‘watering’ and ‘pruning’ for you – so that you can feel loved and cared for too? If you did this, I wonder how long it’d be before you were feeling healthy, well and capable again – maybe not long at all…
Three Steps That Could Make All The Difference
For those who know me well, they know that my focus is always on doing things ‘better’ and ‘faster’. I’m all about ‘efficiency’ and ‘effectiveness’. I constantly look for those actions which will have the greatest impact for the least amount of effort. Well, the following three steps are my choices for the top three things that could make all the difference to your ‘Giving Tree’ lifestyle so that you can get the love and care you deserve…
When we prune a plant, we stand and look at it to identify what’s needed to be changed and what’s not. The best way to do this when we are a ‘Giving Tree’ person is to sit down with those we love and tell them that you’re having a tough time. Let them know that you feel like you’re giving more than you can sustain – and ask them for help. Every single person I’ve recommended this to and who has done it has been surprised how supportive and loving and changed their family becomes when they speak honestly and from the heart.
Step Two – Water – Take Time Out For Yourself
When we water a plant, we just sit there and luxuriate it in life-giving H2O. You also need to take time out to luxuriate yourself too. An hour on your own – in a bath, reading a book, having coffee with friends, watching your favourite guilty pleasure on TV – whatever it is – just take time out for yourself – often – and regularly! Then, watch how much more energy you have as a result…
Step Three – Fertilise – Do Something That Brings You Joy
When we fertilise a plant, we give it nutrients that bless it with health and vitality. Doing things that bring you joy is a way to ‘fertilise’ your soul. Find something that stretches you – something that you’ve always wanted to do – and do it… The joy that will come into your life as a result will enrich and build you up in ways that you currently don’t think possible.
They are my ‘Doctor’s Orders’ for you this coming week. Give them a shot and share your experiences with me the next time we meet in clinic – I’m really keen to hear how you went. Who knows – maybe your holistic wellness will improve as a result… I bet it will…
Yours in health
Dr Zung Vu (Price)
Integrative Doctor, Naturopath, Herbalist, Nutritionist
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