Trees are known for deep roots and a fortitude that can withstand tests of time and strength. Like a tree, a person can be deep rooted in their identity, self-worth, and contribution to the community surrounding them. Trees can support whole ecosystems, but when they lose their ability to support, the effects on that ecosystem can be negative. We too, like a tree, can lose our ability to practice self-love and support those around us. Take a moment to reflect and ask yourself if you are a tree that's self-worth is deep rooted and can withstand any test presented to you.
Just outside the window of my residence sits a large, old oak tree. It's true majesty is best appreciated from afar, but upon closer inspection the details of the role that it plays in the neighborhood becomes evident. The tree acts as somewhat of a protector, a barrier from the elements. The tree almost completely covers the driveway and part of the house. On hot days, my car is kept cooler from the shade than if it was parked directly in the sun. When it rains or snows, I get a reprieve from being completely drenched by falling precipitation. The animals in the neighborhood also benefit from the tree. The old oak is a meeting ground for an ecosystem teeming with different species of animals and insects. Although the home is situated in heavily populated area, it is not uncommon to see chipmunks, squirrels, deer, birds and insects of many varieties. There has even been the occasional sighting of coyotes.
The animals that are frequently found around the tree are squirrels, canker worms and birds.
(First, let me say that I love animals, just remember that fact as you read on.)
Last year, the squirrels were the most active. Those fluffy-tailed rodents that seemed to move like the speed of light ran the block! I nicknamed them the "squirrel mafia" because like the mafia, the rest of the animals knew to stay out of their way. Turf wars, digging holes, tiffs over food and mating were commonplace. Throughout the day, you could hear yelps, squeals and clicks as they communicated letting each other (and everyone else for that matter) know who’s in charge. Then one day, like a light switch being flipped, they were gone.
Then there were the canker worms. Like clockwork in the spring, the cankerworms (commonly known as inchworms) showed up. This worm wreaked havoc for weeks in the spring eating, pooping and sticking to anything they came in contact with. Oh sure they're cute and really pose no threat to us and other animals, but they are still a nuisance.
Once summer came, the birds seemed to have ousted the squirrels. They were definitely less rambunctious than the squirrels but presented a different, more irritating problem. Bird crap EVERYWHERE! Keeping a car clean and free of poop under this tree proved to be an act of futility.
Toward the end of the winter last year, I began to notice that limbs were dropping off the tree. That’s when I reflected on the changes I have seen since moving in. Each season the tree started to lose some of its luster. Fewer and fewer leaves sprouted in the spring, yet more and more leaves dropped off in the fall. Even the animals reacted to the change. As I said earlier, the squirrels left and the canker worms died off much quicker than they had in previous years. Even the birds took to making a nest on the porch instead of the tree. The tree was drying up and what was once a source of abundance, is now withering into obscurity.
Think of yourself like a tree.
We often measure our self-worth incorrectly. Self-worth is YOUR sense of value not what others believe your worth to be, thus the reason for the word “self”. I am not saying that you should overlook defining characteristics of things like your culture or belief system that was instilled in you from childhood. These are aspects of you as an individual that you had no control over and are just a couple of aspects of life that lend to a foundation of your self-worth.
A tree with firmly planted roots that can feed off of a stable environment and nutrient rich soil will thrive and become teeming with life. It will prosper and in the change of season and conditions; regardless of time of abundance or lack, will withstand those tests. It may be weathered, even scarred from those test, but the tree will adapt. Because of it resilience, it creates a hospitable environment for the living things that surround it, which creates a symbiotic relationship. There is a relationship between those creatures that somehow maintain a balance and continue to thrive.
What type of tree are you?
• Do you present the majesty of the old oak tree from afar, yet on closer inspection your self-worth is withered?
• Are your roots firmly planted in a belief system that doesn't just enhance your quality of life but also positively impacts the lives of others around you?
• Are you surrounded by people and places that, even in the most unforgiving situation, allow you to value their presence?
• Are your interactions with others helping your personal development?
You may not have an answer right now and that’s ok! These questions are by no means a comprehensive list of things you should ask yourself, but questions like these can put your mind in a state of forward thinking. Just remember to keep an open mind and be honest with yourself when seeking the answers.
It is important to know who you are for your individual identity. It is hard to get someone to understand you if you are unable to understand yourself. Intellect should not only be measured by a person's academic ability but should also include the continual development of your emotional intelligence, utilization of innate gifts and the ability to create and maintain organic, tangible interactions. Take an active role in your own personal development by acknowledging your strengths and areas of development. Value your self-worth irrespective of another person assumptions and perceptions of you. Let the fruit you bear be the hallmark of your strengths and may your roots keep you firmly planted no matter what you come up against.