Willow Tree Counseling Associates
Willows are amazing trees — especially as a symbol for physical, social and emotional health & wellness. As humans, we also need to develop healthy root systems to feed and stabilize ourselves physically, socially and emotionally.
Physically: A willow tree’s root system is how it receives physical nourishment and maintains health and stability. A willow with deep, healthy roots is a flexible tree which enables it to remain fully rooted when shoved or confronted by heavy winds, returning to its’ center after the storm dissipates.
As much as we’d rather not, there will be times when we are confronted with harshness — the storms of life — just like willows. But we are not victims. Like the willow, we can sway and move with the winds until the sun reappears. In order to do this, we must feed ourselves well to be healthy and not give up when a solution to a problem is not immediately known. We must become creative problem-solvers in the face of harsh times. Afterward, we will be able to lift our heads and shake ourselves off to find ourselves still fully rooted and centered — our true selves. “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not get bent out of shape!”
Socially: We also need to be fed with friendships & family-like connections. Make friends with healthy, stable people that you can trust.
Emotionally: We need to learn how to express emotions appropriately. It’s normal to feel mad, sad, glad, scared, etc. They give us messages about what’s going on in our lives. For example, when someone doesn’t show up when they promised, it makes sense that we would be sad or mad…but it’s NOT okay to be physically or verbally abusive in response. Say what you mean and mean what you say, but don’t say it in a mean way.
Continuing the metaphor, willows know the importance of:
Practicing Self-Care & Asking for Help.
Aspirin was originally made from the bark of willow trees, so in a way, willows are natural healers. They help relieve people of pain. And almost unbelievably, when bugs attack willows by eating their leaves, the willows will emit a chemical to become distasteful to the bugs … thereby encouraging them to leave. Willows practice self-care! We encourage you to practice self-care and self-soothing when dealing with painful situations. But consider a situation where the bugs don't see an alternative food source. To survive, they will continue eating even though the leaves are now bitter. At this point, the willow will discharge an even stronger chemical that will attract wasps to chase the bugs away. Willows know when to ask for help! The unhealthy alternatives to not practicing self-care or asking for help too often lead to alcohol and drug abuse, depression, self-mutilation, destructive and abusive relationships, bullying, suicide and other forms of violence. Practice self-care & ask for help.
Acting with Kindness. Research shows that when pests attack willows, they warn the other willows in the area through a pheromone release, thereby taking care of their community. We can do the same by watching out for one another and encouraging the development of peaceful, caring communities and families through consistent acts of kindness - even when we don’t feel like it. Behave this way and YOU will feel better. Be Kind.