Monday, April 12, 2010

Home Grown Potatoes

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of meeting with a client who did an accelerated opiate detox at TCI a few months ago. The last time I saw him he was really struggling with lots of feelings and emotions that had cropped up. Not an unusual scenario: emotions are blocked pretty well when you spend your day stoned.

Part of his deep grief at the time was the realization of how profoundly he had separated himself from living his own values. Part of the reason he’s doing so beautifully now is that his actions and values are much more aligned because of the daily choices he is making.

ACT (Action and Commitment Therapy) uses the image of a garden when they work with clients on values. Imagine choosing a plot of land for your garden. You work the soil, plant the seeds, and take care of the weeds, etc. While this is in progress you notice another piece of land that looks a little better to you. You pull up your vegetables and go work that plot of land….until you look around and find another plot that seems ever better. As the authors of this exercise so aptly state: values are like a spot where you plant a garden. You can grow some things very quickly, but others require time and dedication. The question is, “Do you want to live on lettuce, or do you want to live on something more substantial—potatoes, beets, and the like?”

You can’t really know how things work in this garden unless you stick around for awhile. Of course, that means you will also notice the imperfections. From time to time thoughts will arise about the poor quality of the soil during this drought, the stones that have come to the surface and the like. The choice to garden here will help you stay in this garden even when your thoughts are making you doubt your decisions.

I think my above mentioned client is gonna be eating a big serving of home-grown hash browns one of these fine days!

Joan Shepherd - FNP

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