Metaphorically speaking, there’s a part of me which needs to be trimmed off.
A branch of my expanding tree-Self that needs pruning.

So…I’m deliberately removing that bent branch. It’s requiring concerted effort!

What is it?

The not-so-good LISTENER part of myself. Meaning, I’ve been fair, not great, when it comes to listening to my own sons, husband, and some of my friends. Interrupted them at times. (If you are one, I’m sorry! I will listen better.)

Sure, I’m a “fast thinker.” No excuse. I get excited. Not an excuse. Sometimes they were saying things that I didn’t believe were true. No excuse. They deserve to be seen and heard, in their own uniqueness. I feel empathy for them, and I’m committed to changing ME. They deserve my whole-hearted listening, out of respect.

I also had a tendency to respond immediately with my own ideas,
instead of pausing, nodding, or reflecting on what my sons just said to me.

However. I’m not trying to DIE to my ENTIRE former self. I don’t need to uproot my whole tree. That would be extreme.

Believing we have to die to the whole self is a mistake many make.

Instead, we shed certain sides of us that no longer serve us, like trees that shed their leaves in fall and winter, or lose a weaker branch.

There are sides of us which have been in our way so we allow them to “pass on” and our newer selves can expand and thrive with fresh growth.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ calls this the life-death-life cycle. Carl Jung called it ego-death.

Something new and better is already growing, reaching for the light! It’s exciting to improve. It’s a relief that we can change! This death-life cycle is fundamental to our renewal and transformation, right?


Instead of telling something we know or believe, raising our tone, thinking what we’re going to say next, or telling a story, try tuning into what the other person needs. It’s ok to ask them what they need from you! We don’t have to agree with them! Offer partnership and compassion. Try:

  1. Just nod & say nothing. Make eye contact. Pause. Sigh. Take in what the other person said. Consider it. Feel empathy. Don’t fill the silence!
  2. Ask an open-ended question, like: “Tell me more?” “How do you feel about that?” “What was that like?”
  3. Make an empathetic statement: “I understand.” “That sounds hard.” “That would worry me too.” “I’d feel the same way.” “How frustrating!” “That’s disappointing.”
  4. Reflect back, making sure to be genuinely yourself: “Gosh. I feel this sadness with you.” “It sounds like you…” “Of course you did/do!” Or “You look …(pleased). Or: “You want to start doing X but don’t know how.” “Wow. Sounds like they didn’t understand you.”
  5. Affirm: “You really…(worked hard!) (felt misunderstood) (put a lot of effort in). “I hear you.” “I get you.” “Ok.”
  6. Summarize: “Seems like that’s what you need.” “That’s something to mull over.” “That’s something to be proud of.”

My wish for you is that this helps in your relationships!

What branch on your tree-Self are you needing to consciously prune? Are you ready?
To bravely replace it with something fresh? Do you want less anxiety? To smile and laugh more? To feel more gratitude, or positivity? To have the bravery to be more honest, vulnerable, or assertive?

Whatever it is, it will require your concerted effort too, but it’s worth it!


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Love from Your Braveologist,