When I was a child I made it a point to greet the pine tree in the yard every day on my way to school and upon returning home. I would shake what I must have believed was his hand (One of his branches) and would say “Good Morning Mr. Tree” or whatever I felt like sharing with him, always with utmost respect because he was after all, an elder.
Well of course this created a great thing to tease me about. While that used to embarrass me and I definitely toned down my engagement with my BFF of the flora kind, now I just smile. I think fondly of my dear friend Mr. Tree and hope he is still standing as tall and healthy as he used to be those many years ago.
Mr. Tree isn’t the first or last love I’ve had with the flora and fauna that shows up in the backgrounds of our existence at any moment we care to venture the attention. Admittedly, I’ve had some incredible love affairs. I didn’t need the scientific research to prove to me that these “other beings” not only felt my attention, but returned it. Science has since proven the engagement is real (See videos at the end of this article). This is nice, but it was the self-validation that kept my avid engagement with other life forms as vivid throughout the years as it has been since I was but a baby.
What does all this mean and why did I decide to share it?
Well, two reasons I guess. One of them is to remind you the entire world is alive and aware down to the cultures of yeast in your yogurt. This bears much more respect than what is given on the typical “locked in your own head” kind of way because our very sustenance is dependent on these other beings.
I encourage you to open up to plants, animals, and yes, even that scary looking timid house spider. Consider that each and every one of these “things” is in essence an emotional creature of intelligence that we are just barely being able to tap into. For all purposes, the same as us. You might find any feelings of loneliness go up in smoke from this point forward. If nothing else, it will give you something to do other than worry about death, taxes or if the neighbors are going to drive a nicer car than you.
The other reason is about validation.
With the trees, people thought I was, (Clearing my throat) a bit of a freak to the point I would hide something I am still utterly passionate about today. The validation from the scientific community in regard to my relationship with other life forms is nice, but it doesn’t hold a candle to how important it has been to validate myself.
Self-validation is accepting yourself without judgment and without hurtful criticism. It helps you build a stronger identity and better relationships because while being validated by others is crucial, if you don’t have a healthy balance of self-validation you are always seeking it from other people and then not believing them anyway in the same way as if you don’t love yourself you will never believe anyone else can truly love you either, or that something is horribly wrong with them if they do.
Levels of Self-Validation:
Be Present. Take time to pay attention to yourself, what you are feeling, what is going on in your inner world and care for yourself where you are in the moment. Most of us spend so much time suppressing or oppressing feelings we prefer not to have, talking poorly to ourselves about how we are stupid/a loser/not good enough, etc… that our self worth plummets to less than zero. Turn that around. Show up for yourself and practice excellent self-care.
Pursue Accurate Reflection. Kill the inner critic and look at yourself for who you are, a perfectly imperfect human that deserves the absolute best in life, just like everybody else does.
Develop an intimate awareness of what you are feeling or thinking. If you have a normal mind, it goes and goes and goes, like the energizer bunny. Step away from that and start listening. Again, without judgment, just become aware because there is no better way to become self actualized other than being aware of precisely what is going on inside of you from moment to moment.
Understand your own reactions in the context of your past experiences. This knowledge is the starting point to developing healthier and happier new perspectives.
Realize your emotions are perfect and normal for who you are. Everyone has feelings they would prefer not to have, but allowing yourself the grace of recognizing other people have those feelings too helps you gain empowerment over them. For example, fear of public speaking is the number one fear, so don’t beat yourself up if you notice yourself breaking into a cold sweat at the idea of speaking to an audience.
Be who you are. Everyone else is taken and the more you “let your freak flag fly” the more you will realize not only a sense of freedom, but that your “uniqueness” is more accepted than you realize as long as you are not hurting yourself or others.