February 2, 2016 Blog No Comments

sycamore treeThis last week we celebrated the birthdays of my husband, son and step son. Birthdays are always a good time to reflect on the where you’ve been and where you are going. While the three of them are in different stages of life, from launching to refining a legacy, the intent is the same: to thrive and limit the suffering. How do we do that?

Last week, I also started my new course, Spread Your Wings, Give Your Dreams Flight, which is taking a look at these issues. Its focus is on how we create the life we want. Without getting into the specifics, I’d like to share some of the concepts we explored and some of the observations that address this question. The insights and dialog in this wonderful group were profound.

There are a number of background concepts that lay the foundation for this workshop. They come from ancient wisdom traditions which are the underpinning for most of the material you read today on creating internal and external change, manifestation and success.


The first concept upon which the others build is the Law of Mentalism, which says our thoughts lay the groundwork for what happens to us. We know this is true. When we think positively, we are more likely to have positive outcomes. But in fact, it’s amazing how much we bombard ourselves with negativity. It’s in the news, our work place, our schools, our homes and worst of all in our selves. What became clear in this workshop is …

Most of us keep a secret vault of critical self-talk that we step in to bludgeon ourselves on a regular basis.

To bring the point home on the impact of our negative thinking, I asked everyone to imagine they were a tree. I passed out nuts in the shell – acorns, pecans, almond, walnuts and brazil nuts. While holding the nut, you were to imagine that everything you needed to reach your full potential was contained inside the nut. This is not far from the truth; we all started out with our full potential intact in our embryonic state.

As adults we get to choose where we plant the tree, the soil conditions and how we care for it. We may not have had those options as children, but we do now. In fact, we have a much boarder range of choices than the tree does. Its miraculous how many beautiful old trees we have gracing our lives when you consider all the conditions required for it to germinate and then thrive. This is also true for us, even though we have control over many more of the variables.

For the sake of this analogy, we will imagine the water that feeds the tree is our thoughts, the soil is our home and communities and the light is the inspiration that allows it to grow.
Let’s see how well we care for our tree!

I asked everyone to write down their secret negative thoughts that stop them from living their dreams. Everyone had a long list with things like too old, too young, too tired, too fat, takes too long, lack of confidence, not good enough and on and on. The similarity in self-criticism among the participants and the bad feelings it produces was stunning and sad
If we consider our thoughts to be the rain that waters the tree, how often are we giving life sustaining water to our tree or to ourselves? What is the impact of our negative self-talk? Most of the people in the group quickly recognized that everything changes around them when thoughts and consequently moods are bad. Life affirming and supportive thoughts are the water of life to the tree just as they are for us.

In this class everyone has dreams of wanting something fabulous to happen and have secretly undermined their ideas with fears, doubts and ambivalence. As one person noted, we are depriving our loved one and the world of our full potential because of our negativity. There was a bottom line that became evident. Negative thoughts stop us from living our dreams.

Are we expecting our tree and ourselves to live in desert conditions from the lack of positive thoughts and affirmation?

What is the condition of the soil where you’ve planted your tree? Is it in soil that nourishes it, will it thrive where it is planted? Or is it “dead soil” where nothing will grow? The analogy for us – do you give yourself nutritional rich food, is there a friendly environment with family, friends and loved ones who honor you? Are you taking care of your health and your body?

This is the second principle which we explored, the Law of Correspondence, which says everything around us affects us, just as we affect them. It’s important to recognize the impact of our home and community on us. Are we depriving ourselves of what we need to thrive by not choosing the right people, circumstances and environment that will meet our needs?

The environment around us will either support or block our ability to thrive – it’s our choice.


We need light to grow as much as a tree does. For us the light comes in the form of inspiration, creative expression, cultural exposure and spiritual practices. How much attention are we giving to life sustaining and fulfilling activities like music, dance, art, theater, meditation, prayer, spirituality, new studies, or travel? What enriches you? What expands your soul and broadens your life view and experience? We don’t grow without this inspiration and higher level awareness.

This highlighted the third principle we explored, the Law of Vibration. We are energy, everything around us is energy. From science we know energy cannot be created or destroyed only transformed. Are we giving ourselves the opportunity to expand?

Are we trying to live in the dark – we don’t grow without light anymore than a tree does.

After considering the impact of our negative thoughts in creating our reality, we drew pictures of our trees. It became clear that when our trees are exposed to negativity its growth takes a toll. Some very interesting and illuminating observations were made.in the drawings. Here is what they looked like:

• The roots were fully developed but had not taken shape above ground
• The tree is mostly lanky tendrils seeking light, water and nourishment
• The tree is fully developed but is kept in the dark for fear of criticism
• The tree only blooms on one side
• The tree is planted on a cliff with half its roots dangling over the edge, crooked but hanging on
• it’s really a bush

Telling isn’t it? When the group was told to revamp their self-talk to positive life sustaining statements and consider improving the soil and light conditions everyone quickly drew healthy thriving trees. Interesting!

What we learned in this lesson is the power we have to make our lives what we want by paying attention to what we can control – our thoughts, our environment and our enrichment. We can make our dreams a reality by giving ourselves what we need to thrive.

This class is providing a wonderful exploration into the elements that can give our dreams flight. I anticipate that fantastic insights will continue to surface over the next three weeks. Stay tuned; I’m sure I’ll write more. And if you’d like to have this experience for yourself, let me know. I’ll be doing it again. Message me here or at my email connie@conniemilligan.com.
Spectrum Transformation Services, LLC’s photo.

Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com