The Tree and The Traffic Light

I’ve previously mentioned the tree analogy that my therapist offered me, the trunk being my core personality and the branches are various aspects of my life (career, family, etc). Yesterday she switched analogies and went with traffic lights.

Red, she explained was all the negative self-talk my anxiety and depression feed me. Because there is so much of it, I find myself stopped. Often. Green is positive reinforcement that will allow me to counter the negative self-talk and move forward. Before you start getting more and more green, you need to spend more time in the yellow, she explained.

Yellow, in this analogy, is slowing down. I mean I guess it is that in real life too, but so many people seem to speed up when they see it, trying to beat the light, trying to stay green. So much so that they may not be as aware of what is around them. For me slowing down means recognizing the negative self-talk for what it is. Lies, the lies whispered by my mental illness. It means realizing those red lights that I think are keeping me stuck at intersections are actually stop signs. The negative self-talk will never stop completely, but with a stop sign, I’m not stuck forever. Instead, it is something that I need to pause at and be mindful of before moving forward, before growing.

Getting the green light for my tree to grow. Photo by Matthias Zomer, downloaded from

Because it is both analogies. It is the tree and the traffic light. Right now, it is the traffic light that keeps my tree from growing, that keeps my branches from blossoming. I need more green lights if that tree is going to grow. We all do.

You know, I think I am finally getting the hang of this therapy thing. Either that or I just gave the Ewoks traffic lights, which judging by how many stormtroopers and AT-ATs they ran over at the Battle of Endor might be a good thing.

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