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  • Writer's pictureGary

Ask A Winter Tree: “How Can I Handle Limits?”--------7 Steps To Overcoming Setbacks and Loss


Anger, setback, loss, obstacle, stress
How do you like being told “No”?

We encounter “No!” every day in both simple and profound ways. For example, red stop lights tell us, “No, you shall not pass!” This LIMIT doesn’t exactly inspire warm, fuzzy feelings, does it?

We also all know that knot-in-the-stomach, bang-your-head feeling of having to be patient as our career grows, of having to pay an unexpected bill, of experiencing rejection, and basically not getting what we want when we want it. And then there are those harsher forms of limitation, like the fact that no matter how hard we try, we will inevitably lose people and things we love. How do we accept "No"?

Ask a tree!

As I write this, I see a snow-covered, leafless, cold, gray tree in my yard. Day and night, enduring sub-freezing temperatures, stuck in frozen ground, stiff beneath a cloudy sky, the tree stands alone in silence. How? How does it tolerate this limitation?

Curious, I did a little research, and what I found astounded me! The steps to surviving Winter begin as early as Spring.


(1) Trees prepare for loss even before they lose! In Spring, as leaf buds sprout, the leaf stems form a layer of cells called the abscission at which the leaf breaks off in Autumn.

What does this teach you?

My takeaway: Expect setbacks! “This too shall pass.” Accepting the impermanence of all things even as you venture forth on your latest greatest experience takes sting out of loss and inspires present-focused living.


(2) During summer, leaves produce more glucose than they need for energy and growth, so they convert the glucose to starch and store it until the season turns cold.

What does this teach you?

My takeaway: Fatten your heart and relationship to Life during times of abundance so that you have a nourishing core even when your environment is not nourishing you. 12 Step circles call this "filling up your spiritual bank account."


(3) Leaves fall off during Autumn because keeping them alive through winter would be energy inefficient.

What does this teach you?

My takeaway: Let go. What brought you much needed light and energy at one period of time may become a burden to you at another.


(4) Trees hibernate in winter. They do not produce energy and their metabolism slows down in order to conserve energy. They produce a chemical called Abscisic Acid to prevent cells from dividing.

What does this teach you?

My takeaway: Don’t waste your energy fighting to make the impossible happen. If your situation blocks you, develop the equivalent of Abscisic acid to inhibit your own urge to grow, achieve, get, produce, and feed. Slow down.

(5) Trees feed on inner reserves throughout winter as they await the return of Spring and Summer, the seasons of "Yes!"

What does this teach you?

My takeaway: What feeds you when the world seems against you, when your plans fail, when nourishment is not flowing into your life? If you develop inner strength and resources, you can survive just fine even if everything is telling you “No!”

(6) To avoid totally freezing, living tree cells lower their freezing point by “sweetening” (converting stored starch to glucose) and by transporting unneeded water outside their cell membranes.

What does this teach you?

My takeaway: When faced with a limit, turn lemons to lemonade. Surround yourself with sweet positivity and show to the door negative thoughts, attitudes, habits, and people.

(7) In freezing temperatures, tree cells shrink to make space for expanding water outside the cell, and their cell membranes become pliable so that they aren’t punctured by sharp ice crystals surrounding them.

What does this teach you?

My takeaway: When hit by a limitation, become soft, small, and adaptable. Just because your environment is hostile doesn’t mean you have no control over how it affects you.

In an age when good role models are hard to find, look to the trees. Observe how Nature thrives. Whatever your trouble, I invite you now to turn to Nature and ask for guidance.

What You Can Do

Your Assignment:

1. Which of these tree behaviors do you already do well?

2. Which of the behaviors do you want to get better at?

3. What specific action could you take to grow in that way?

Want more help for what's troubling you? These blog articles may help.

My passion is healing and helping people's dreams come true. I invite you to set up a free 30 minute consultation with me to begin a personalized plan to overcome your limits, fix your problems, and make the most of your life!


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