In my work, I spend a lot of time talking about the importance of discovering and aligning with your “yes!”. This deeply positive position in relationship to your life allows you to open to what brings you deeply alive, unleashing your vitality and the potential to flourish in new and life-giving ways. While it’s important to cultivate this deeply yes-oriented position, it’s also important to understand that learning to stand in your “no” is another expression of aligning with your “yes!”.
To illustrate why, let’s talk about the subtle art of tree pruning.
Have you ever pruned a fruit tree, or watched someone do it? It’s a subtle and delicate process. You have to have discernment about which types of growth on the tree are unproductive. You also need to know how much to prune to optimize the growth. If you don’t ever prune, the tree will not produce as much fruit and will become more and more unhealthy.
The branches will be growing one on top of the next, blocking the sunlight from reaching the leaves and preventing the fruit from forming. And there will be an increasing number of what are called “suckers,” branches that tend to grow straight up and never produce any fruit; they take the life-energy of the tree, but don’t produce anything.
Growth by itself is not all good. If not properly tended to and guided, the tree will become less vital and less productive, and will be sending it’s precious life resources toward a growth that isn’t serving the whole of the tree.
Proper pruning is an art. It requires a great deal of awareness and finesse to know what to cut, how to cut, and what to leave to ensure that the tree flourishes and produces bountiful fruit of exquisite and delicious quality.
When you remove what is not serving the vitality of the whole, you allow for the fullness of the natural, organic blossoming to happen.
This is an allowing, not a forcing. You simply are supporting what innately wants to happen.
The same rules of pruning also apply to your life. Is your life feeling crowded? Do you have a sense that you are investing your life-energy where you are not getting returns?
Just as with a fruit tree, pruning your life needs to happen on a regular basis. As the one who is uniquely responsible for tending to your own vitality, you are the only one who can learn the subtle art of pruning your life.
So what might it be time for you to let go of, to prune away? What no longer belongs in your life? What might you need to shed? What clutter might you need to clear away to free up your life-energy to be fully devoted to what you have to give in life, and what you are here to receive? In other words…
What is your life-energy currently feeding that is not in alignment with your “yes!”?
This is about unleashing your vitality and releasing the energy that is caught in the heaviness and entanglement of what no longer belongs. Pruning needs to happen in every dimension of your life.
Sometimes it just takes a little snip of a tiny twig, and sometimes it requires getting the saw out to remove a large branch that is heading in an unhealthy direction or blocking the light from the branches that feel juicy and full of life goodness for you.
So, where do you get started with the pruning? Wherever is most obvious, and you might start small until you get the hang of it. Below are some examples of places you might begin:
- Physical Belongings
- Household Clutter
- Volunteer Commitments
Saying an authentic “no” can be an act of saying “yes!” to your life-energy. Remember, no one but you can tend to your life-energy and vitality, so it is your responsibility to be discerning about what you are saying “yes” to.
If you are someone who habitually says “yes” and then regrets it later, something you can try as a way to strengthen your “no” muscle is to simply respond to every request with, “I’ll need to think about it, and get back to you.” This will give you time to fully consider the prospect.
This can work between you and yourself, too, if you tend to get easily excited and drawn in a lot of directions. Pause and tell yourself that you won’t make a decision until tomorrow (or next week). Let it percolate so that you can learn the art of greater self-discernment.
Take some time to tune in to what your truth is, and listen for that guidance as to whether this is where your life-energy is wanting to be shared. With time, after you give yourself that buffer of response, you will get better and better at being clear and honest with yourself in the moment of a request and responding accordingly. But until then, there is nothing wrong (and a lot right!) about gifting yourself the time to reflect and get clear.
The most important part of pruning is to practice self-honesty and trust.
When we have the courage to prune away something significant, we can’t know what will be given the opportunity to grow and blossom as a result, or where it will lead us in our lives.
I’d love to hear your perspectives and experiences of pruning your life. Share your thoughts below!