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How can I care for and nurture myself? Lessons we learned from our Little Friendship Plant!

This cute Little Plant was very kindly given to us by a client a few years back now. It was from someone who really valued plants, nature, ecology and the environment and whose therapy sessions centred around the importance of compassion and nurturing. It is a Pilea plant which is also known as ‘The Friendship Plant’ or the ‘Pass It On Plant’ and it therefore seemed very apt that nurturing would continue on beyond therapy via this Little Baby Plant.

Of course, we knew what to do in theory to help this Little Plant grow and thrive. We knew we had to look after it, give it optimal light (not too little, not too much), give it water (but not drown it), feed it, nurture it, and give it space to thrive by repotting it as it grew.

Did we do all this? Did we heck. 🪴😳😬🙈

The Little Plant started to grow but it nearly drowned a few times and it also got poorly neglected. It sat in a dark corner of a room and didn’t get a stable and optimal amount of attention and nurturing. It either sat being ignored and gasping for water, or it got so much water that it recoiled and nearly drowned from being suddenly overwhelmed with ‘too much, too much, stoppppp!!’. It also often begged for more freedom to grow ‘I need a bigger pot!’ but to no avail. Even though we knew how look after it, and knew that we wanted to look after it, there always seemed to be more important things to do than repot a plant or figure out how much water it actually needed. So the Little Plant continued on struggling and only just surviving, continuing to get its needs neglected, or getting way too much thrown in its way and becoming overwhelmed. The Little Plant then started to wilt and yellow and look like it was giving up, clinging to dear plant life in the hope that someone would recognise what it actually needed and start to look after it properly.

It was only at this point we thought ‘oh no, we aren’t doing our best for this Little Plant! We need to look after it!’.

So what did we do? We recognised the Little Plant was struggling and acknowledged it needed some proper care and attention. It was screaming to escape its original tiny pot so we re-potted it to give it a safer and more optimal environment to have room to grow and thrive, we educated ourselves about how to meet its needs with the correct amount of water and feed it required, we moved it to the best light conditions (so not in direct sunlight or in a deep dark corner where no light reached it), we tended to it lovingly and gave it the nurture, care and attention that it should’ve had all along. And we carved out and prioritised the time to regularly do all of this.

And what happened…? The Little Plant survived (which grew into the Big Plant in the white vase below!), it grew and it then totally THRIVED! So much that it’s now had two Little Baby Plants all on its own which we are now proudly looking after!

This probably all sounds like common sense but we admit that we are quite rubbish at looking after plants (hence having a fair few fake ones at The Wellbeing Rooms). However, another client recently got us thinking when they commented that our fake plastic plants don’t really represent the theme of ‘nurture’ which is obviously highly relevant and the basis of all the work we do as therapists. This is so right, as the messages in the therapy space can be quite powerful.

‘If you can’t nurture a plant, how can you nurture me?’.

We admit that sometimes we are so focused on nurturing and helping our clients that we forget about these important basics like the plants in our environment. After all we are only human and it’s hard to always ‘be on it’ (and to be fair some of the fake plants sit next to radiators and we don’t have a clue what would survive there!).

There are clear parallels between nurturing a plant and nurturing a person, be it ourselves or another person we look after. There has to be a recognition and awareness of basic needs and a shift from just 'knowing what to do' to then actually 'doing it'. There needs to be provision of an optimal level of care (rather than the extreme ends of being deprived / neglected or subject to over-involvement / suffocation), giving room to grow independently by providing space, freedom and autonomy, regularly checking in, making space, paying attention, and providing care and nurturing with genuine warmth, soothing and compassion.

So the moral of the story is… to thrive as well as survive you need to look after your plants, the significant others in your life, and very importantly… yourself! Just look at The Little Plant and its babies now!

If The Little Plant can do it, you can do it too🪴💕

With care and nurturing,

Jo, Jan & Catherine @thewellbeingrooms

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