Removing the Dead Petals in Our Lives

Why things get worse before they get better

One hobby my parents have is gardening. I remember when I was in High School I saw my mom plucking petals off of some flowers and was shocked because I thought she was killing them!

When I asked her why she was doing that she said, “Because the flower will stop wasting energy on the dead petals. It’s better for it to create new ones.”

The same goes for paying down your Emotional Debt and why sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.


Addressing Emotional Debt is Painful

When you start focusing on your mental health, especially when you see a therapist, you might actually feel like things are getting worse. This letter is for you:

Don’t stop.

I know it doesn’t make sense. I know you want to feel better right away. But sometimes growth requires pain. It requires strength. And it requires faith.

The reason why getting better hurts is because you’ve got to remove the dead petals in your life so that new ones can grow.

Facing the pain we’ve been ignoring can be scary. There’s a reason why we’ve shoved it under the rug for so long. But we won’t be able to fully deal with it unless we address it head on.

The same goes with our maladaptive coping mechanisms. These are the things we do to make ourselves feel better temporarily…but they’re really hurting us. In other words, these are the dead petals of our lives.

We pour a ton of energy into them because it’s a part of who we are. It’s become a part of what we do. We think that they’re helping but really, we’re just wasting our time and energy.

Examples of Dead Petal Behavior

Here are some examples of Dead Petal Behavior in order to make this concept more concrete:

  • Drinking when you feel depressed to stop feeling sad. You might feel better that night, but you’re destroying your body and potentially feeding an addiction. I recently had a friend commit to not drinking any alcohol for over a month and one of the first things she said was that she never realized how much money she was spending on it. She’s using that money now to help pay for her college tuition.

  • Pretending to be someone you’re not. You might avoid the shame of revealing your imperfections. And yes it’s true that if you show them who you really are, the version of you that you want them to see will get tarnished. But you’re not letting your whole self be loved…just the parts you want them to see.

  • Self harm. This comes in many shapes and forms. At a physical level, it can look like cutting. It’s a way to remind yourself that you’re alive or to create pain to cover the deeper one you feel in your heart. But the underlying Emotional Debt never gets addressed. At a mental level, it’s self-criticism. You might think you deserve it and that it’ll help you not make the same mistake. But you’re just destroying your self image and confidence.

Breaking these Dead Petal Behaviors hurt because they bring you comfort. They are things that you can control. They’re reliable and ripping them off means that you have to try something new. And trying something new means you could fail or face more pain than you think you can handle.

But remember, sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. You’ve got to remove the dead petals to make way for new ones so that you can thrive.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some other examples of Dead Petal Behaviors?

  2. What are some new behaviors someone could do to replace them?

  3. Do you have any Dead Petal Behaviors?