Recently I read the book The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, as it had been recommended by a friend. I read it in 5 minutes… but these were 5 minutes that will stay for a lifetime. It really got me teary eyed! Such a beautiful and simple story. I had to turn to google to find out if I was the only one (it felt a little silly to be honest), but no. Many people report crying like babies every time they read it. Phew!
What is it about this book that causes such a strong emotional reaction or shock even? I wonder if it’s because people identify themselves with the characters… You can either be the ever giving tree, whose happiness resides in providing for others or be the boy, who just takes everything from the tree until there is nothing left to give. Or you can be both.
I am sure we have all been one and the other at different points of our lives, no one is perfect and life certainly has many shades of grey. Just don’t tell me it’s 50, please! Anyway, I don’t think that any of the characters should be taken as role models – certainly not the self-centered little boy, but I also don’t think that being the tree is entirely something to aspire to, despite how good it might look on paper. I’m saying this because I’ve been the tree too many times and taken advantage of by less deserving people. Life does end up making you cynical but no one wants to be cynical, right? There is a lot of joy in giving without expecting anything in return but we need to learn to choose those who deserve it. Life and experience should teach us to tread carefully and pick who is worthy of our unconditional love but we also need to be on the look out (unless we are talking about children but that goes without saying). If you find yourself feeling a bit cheated… it’s probably because you are!
So what can we do to avoid becoming an old stump like the tree in the book? Cultivate your self esteem. All the time. When you love yourself you have a better chance of avoiding getting stuck in poisonous relationships, be it of the friendship or the romantic type. How can we do this? There are plenty of ways! Here’s only a few examples:
– Look at yourself in the mirror and look for the things you like about yourself rather than the flaws.
– Read a book – there’s nothing better than feeling like you’ve learned something new.
– Stop comparing yourself to others. It’s difficult, particularly in the blogging world, as people will naturally tend to show the rosy part of their lives, to feel like you are missing out on something. Remind yourself that just because you only see the nice bits, it doesn’t mean that everything is perfect and that you should be living someone else’s life. Everyone’s got their own and it’s up to each and one of us to make the best out of it.
– Pamper yourself – If you can’t afford to go to the spa, bring the spa home! Get some scented candles and some nice bubble bath and allocate a little bit of “me” time for yourself regularly.
– Try something you’ve been afraid of trying before. It’s a great feeling when you’ve conquered your fears and you’ll have something to talk about at cocktail parties.
– Be crafty. Making something yourself is a great source of contentment. Look at some of my projects for inspiration! (here or here)
– Get a notebook and keep it on your bedside table. Every night think about something that made you smile during the day and write it down. Every month read back all the reasons you have to smile. (as suggested by Lali)
– If you’re not very inspired to write, read a bunch of quotes by other people.
– Don’t say yes when you really want to say no. What an amazing feeling of empowerment!
There are plenty more things that you can do to improve your self esteem. Having a good self esteem is halfway to happiness. I’ve always said that if you don’t love who you are, hardly you will know how to love someone else. So there, cultivate your tree and don’t let anyone cut you down! Do you have any other tricks for when you are feeling a little less brilliant?
If you’ve never read the book, you can watch a reading here:
Photos taken by myself at Kellie Castle, adulterated on Paint using frame images pilfered and scribbled on from google images.