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Prime Real Estate

I recently took the girls to the library for curbside book pickup. A librarian asked if we would like some packets of vegetable seeds for planting. This was an unexpected and unknown perk of the library system. New books and a gardening project. The girls were thrilled. They discussed garden plans all the way home. 

The afternoon was spent planting a small garden in the backyard. The girls added rich soil and carefully followed the spacing guidelines for beans, peppers and tomatoes. A fence made from popsicle sticks marked the perimeter. 

Every day, the girls would go outside to water their garden. One day, a few sprouts had grown. But what was this? Small weeds had also begun to sprout outside the carefully spaced rows. The girls stood with their hands on their hips. They frowned at this discovery. Carefully, they pinched the unwanted weeds at their base and plucked them out of the garden. I overheard Ella exclaim, “There’s no room for you here, bad old weeds. You’re getting in the way of the good plants!”

The garden monitoring increased. Multiple times a day, the girls would run outside to make sure rogue weeds weren’t attempting to take root – protecting the precious real estate that was meant to nurture the good plants and give them space to grow and flourish. 

There’s only so much space in a garden. And there’s only so much space in our minds. So often, we allow negative thoughts to take root. Over time, these unhelpful thoughts begin to overcrowd the good. At first, their presence might be small and almost unnoticeable, like the tiny weeds in the girls’ garden. Over time, though, these thoughts can begin to take over and change our brains by crowding out helpful, positive thoughts.

I think Ella has it right. It’s our choice. When prime real estate is involved, we need to be attentive and fiercely protect what gets to be there.

Author: Alyssa Forcehimes, PhD

An expert in behavior change, substance use disorders and empathic communication, Dr. Alyssa Forcehimes serves as President of The Change Companies® and Train for Change Inc.® She lives in Arizona with her husband and two daughters.