Reaping what you sow

When a farmer plants a crop, he usually does so expecting an abundant harvest in due course. But in order to achieve that harvest, a number of things need to be tended to. First and foremost, the ground requires preparation, so the farmer plows the land in order to overturn soil, breaking it into smaller masses, incorporating any plant residue from the previous season and then adding fertilizer. The farmer knows that in order to grow crops successfully, he needs to start with a healthy ground in which to plant the seed.

But suppose that the farmer goes to pick up the necessary products for the season and is told that, presently, the only fertilizer on the market is one that requires daily application. Though he has never been aware of such a process, he trusts the direction of the supplier and complies with the unfamiliar procedure.

He plants his crop and begins the process of daily fertilization. It isn’t long before he notices weeds beginning to appear, thick and aggressive weeds. In a short span of time, they overtake the entire plantation, leaving little space and nourishment for the crop seed to take root.

He doesn’t understand what is happening but realizes that, in order to save his crop, immediate action is required. After retracing his steps, he comes to the conclusion that the only thing that he has done differently from years past related to the fertilization method. Although he had been directed by the supplier to follow a specific protocol, he chooses to follow his intuition and do some investigating prior to continuing the routine. He calls the supplier and immediately discovers that the fertilizer has been accidentally exposed to, and combined with, a weed that has the power to destroy everything around it.

Of course he makes the decision to cease applying the product and before long, the weeds begin to dry up and are eventually eradicated. The crop seed is now provided with what it requires to thrive and flourish and produce an abundant harvest. 

Apply this scenario to everyday life

Our minds can be likened to fertile ground. Regardless of what we plant, which is always a choice, what we feed it with daily determines what is produced.

We are in control of what we watch and listen to. When we notice that our lives are being negatively affected in any way, we, like the farmer in the fictional scenario, can make a decision to remove those things

Positive influences build up and encourage us to get through life with confidence. They promote well being, contentment and assurance that, although problems may arise, we can feel optimistic about getting through them.

Negative influences, on the other hand, deplete us of the quality of life that we deserve. They create negative thoughts, emotional distress and impact how we view the world around us. When we are faced with things that pose a threat, real or imagined, it is common to lose sight of all logic. We begin to experience unexplained symptoms in our body which can further lead to feeling overwhelmed and out of control.

Chronic fear has the ability to literally take over our minds, preventing us from making rational decisions, breaking down our immune systems and causing debilitating sickness and disease in our bodies.

We may be experiencing symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, the inability to feel love toward others, fatigue, withdrawal from family and friends, intrusive thoughts — just to name a few — and never understand what is triggering them.

We may begin to find it difficult to look after ourselves, make meals or get up in the morning. There can be times when we may experience dissociation. This means that we can feel disconnected from our bodies. We watch things happen around us but are unable to feel, we may not have a sense of who we are or recall memories from our past.

Fear also affects our ability to learn. When our brain is in hyper arousal mode, it distorts the storage of sensory input and the retrieval of information.

Long term exposure to anxiety triggered by fear can cause our brain to release stress hormones on a regular basis and prevent our bodies from returning to normal functioning. This causes our immune systems to weaken and make us vulnerable to viral infections and other physical and mental health problems.

Limit your exposure

Looking back to the farmer, we notice that the products purchased from the supplier were infested with weeds. Through daily application, they were provided with the nourishment required to help them grow to the extent that they were able to overpower everything around the fertilizer.

To a certain degree, this is what happens to us when we listen to the news. A large percentage of the information covered by the media focuses on the negative. When we expose ourselves to this type of content regularly, it has an impact on us — a negative impact — especially when a personal connection exists, such as during the current pandemic.

We tell ourselves that we need to stay informed, yet in doing so, our stress levels begin to elevate the moment we touch that remote. We know what’s coming, yet we allow ourselves to hear it again and again.

Fear is a normal emotion in the sense that it warns us of potential threats to our physical and emotional safety and prepares our bodies to take flight; however, as previously mentioned, it can be harmful when our bodies begin to live in this state for long periods of time.

If you find that you are experiencing symptoms that may be stemming from fear, begin setting boundaries. Limit your exposure to who and what might be contributing to it.

Discontinue fertilization and eradicate the weeds!

About the author: Brenda Strack, a Valley native, is a certified counsellor in Barry’s Bay practising as Madawaska Valley Counselling Services. She uses Integrative Counselling to tailor a therapeutic approach specific to the needs of each individual. For more information see



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