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By Alana Gregg, MA

It has been a LONG winter and many of us are ready for change and self improvement. More than any other year, I think we’re ready for spring. I feel like I’ve been hibernating…staying inside all day with minimal sunshine or fresh air. There’s been less interaction because it’s been unsafe to have people in the house. My kids are going stir crazy and they are taking my sanity with them. Can anyone relate? 

It’s so hard to be content in seasons that are hard. We anxiously await the next season that will be easier or more pleasurable…when life is how it’s “supposed to be.” I struggle with this myself. While it is not realistic to be happy about hard things, is it possible to learn from it instead of wishing it away? 

How can our wait for spring teach us about self improvement?

1. Death of the old– Winter is cold and quiet. All of nature seems to go to sleep. Many plants even die or get cut way back in order to make way for new growth. Are there things in your life that need to be let go of in order to make way for new things? Maybe you need to let go of a relationship that has become unhealthy and is keeping you from growing. Maybe you need to let go of strategies you used for survival that are no longer serving you well. For example, the anger that might initially keep you protected from bad stuff eventually ends up blocking out the good as well. Or maybe it’s a lack of forgiveness that keeps you tied to someone that doesn’t deserve to still have power over you. 

Seeking self improvement might require letting go and may require some grief as we acknowledge why these things were once important to us. It may even require a daily surrender. Although this can be a painful process, it is necessary to be able to experience the new life that is waiting for you.

2. Patience– Waiting is so hard! I think it’s one of the hardest things to deal with because we are human. We want things to be better now. We want the long days of sunshine and the sounds of birds chirping. We want the beauty of the flowers and the trees. But we need to wait for spring. However, waiting is not fully passive. It takes work to be content in the season we are in. It doesn’t mean blindly being “positive” and refusing to acknowledge the pain we are experiencing. It may mean actively making healthy choices that keep us from just staying numb until things get better. Maybe we realize we’ve been holding our breath all winter and need to take a deep exhale. Or maybe we need help gaining a new perspective of our circumstances for self improvement.

3. Growth– Anticipating spring brings new opportunities for growth. Life starts with a seed. It doesn’t grow overnight. We need to give ourselves time for growth and self improvement too. Often we judge growth by the final product (like the large floral blooms). Remember, there is growth that happens underground before the plant even bursts through the surface. This growth is just as important as the flashy flowers that are easy to see. We may need to look harder but it is there and deserves to be celebrated. 

We also can’t force a bud to open. It takes time and the right conditions for a flower to fully form. We need to be planting ourselves in healthy soil, surrounding ourselves with people that nurture us and help us grow. The growth process of self improvement is painfully slow at times, but we can’t skip to the end as much as we’d like to. Life is found in the journey.

 4. Hope– Spring always gives us hope for the future. No matter how dark and grey the winter is, spring always comes. As Audrey Hepburn said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” There are times that hope can be hard to see. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. But like blinds that are blocking out the sun, it does not mean the sun is gone. It just means we can’t see it right now. 

Call Lime Tree Counseling for extra support with self improvement

Sometimes life can be overwhelming or you don’t have enough support right now because life has been too difficult. Our trained counselors at Lime Tree Counseling would love to come alongside you as you struggle through a hard season. Sometimes we need to learn new skills to deal with stress or grief. Other times, we just need to have someone sit with us in the winter, and still others need a fresh perspective. Be reminded that spring is coming. We just need to hold on. Schedule a session today!