Have you ever been told ‘You reap what you sow’? How did you feel hearing it? Was it a feeling of delight or a feeling of dread? If your answer is more around dreadfulness rather than delight, you’re in the majority of people. But can it be seen in a different way? I challenge you to explore it with me.
I love words. I love playing with their meaning, especially exploring the connotations they have for each of us. Words may have the same letters and the same pronunciation but when we say them aloud, we give them life, our energy, our own meaning. We do that every time we speak and not one word is said in the same way every time because we have different energy levels each day so we pronounce words with different energy.
Along with different energies, we give words specific meaning based on our history, memories, events and people that were a part of their usage. All of this becomes a part of the word that we pronounce. So we give her much more than just a voice.
That being said, let’s go back to the saying, ‘You reap what you sow’. I bet many of you read this with a threatening connotation, picturing bad things happening, with a bit of fear and/or discomfort in your body.
I looked up the meaning of the phrase in a dictionary and it says, I quote: ‘future consequences are inevitably shaped by present actions’. What does this mean?
Well, it means that whatever happens in the future will be shaped based on the present events and decisions. Does it say bad things will happen in the future? No! Does it say good things will happen in the future? No! It just says things will happen. But most of us understand the phrase as bad things will happen in the future. Why is that?
The reason is hidden in the context in which we’ve heard, seen or experienced this phrase in our lives. We connect the phrase with what we know and the phrase gains a specific meaning this way.
What would happen if we change one word with a synonym? What feeling would the phrase, ‘You harvest what you sow.’ evoke in you? Would it be a more pleasant one? When we hear harvest, we might envision a field full of flowers, garden full of fruits. We might think of abundance, gifts and have pleasant emotions around it. Let’s explore this even further.
Thoughts and emotions shape our actions
Based on the thoughts and emotions, we decide how we are going to act. If we feel dreadfulness, we might not act on it at all, but if we feel delight, we might explore it. So, what would you do if someone said to you, “Now look back and reap what you sow?” What would you do if someone said to you, “Now look back and harvest what you sow?” They would have said the same thing but you would have understood and acted differently based on the connotation you got from the phrase.
We all have fields of flowers, gardens of fruits
You might be asking yourself why I picked up this phrase in the first place. I watched a video by a lovely coach Janine Kathleen Shapiro titled Own Your Harvest and it made me think about my own harvest, my own field of flowers of knowledge, experience, people, connections, values, beliefs, memories, abilities and skills. It’s a field of flowers I sowed during the years, planted as seeds and nourished them throughout my short lifetime.
I must admit, I wasn’t always a good landlord to them. I was harsh on them sometimes, I would pull them out, not water them, not nurture them, not fertilize them. Yet, they’ve bloomed anyway. They’ve grown anyway! And made me who I am today.
But there is one thing I regret not doing sooner and more often. I regret not turning back and looking at my field of flowers. I regret not enjoying my field.
Be aware of other people’s connotations
Never look back, they say, and You reap what you sow, they threaten. So, I didn’t. I was scared to look back at my field because what if I see a field of mistakes, bad decisions, missed opportunities? What if that’s all there is? Isn’t that what the phrase You reap what you sow is all about?
But what if I were to harvest what I sow? Ummm, that’s a pleasant thought. What if there are beautiful flowers in my field? Wouldn’t that be a magnificent view!
It’s the actions that count the most
So in my mind I turned back, and there it was – a beautiful field of wildflowers with red poppies dominating in the endlessness of it and wheat swaying in the wind.
I saw my bravery, my strength and persistence in each flower. In each flower I recognized a part of myself – my degrees, my books, my business, me as a mom, as a wife, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend, all my accomplishments. I went on a walk through my field of wildflowers celebrating all of the bits and pieces of me and harvesting their beauty.
I finally acknowledged them! I closed my eyes and absorbed their energy. They’ve fed me with an enormous amount of it and with confidence.
Look, they said to me, you’ve created us, you can do so much, just keep going and harvest us whenever you need us in the future.
What will it be – flowers or weeds?
Our past is a field of endless resources that we can use in the future. So many learned skills, so much experience, knowledge – all of it is in our fields of flowers, gardens of fruits. If we would only dare to look back and harvest what we’ve sowed.
I know, you might be thinking it’s only weeds in your field, but I promise you, it’s not. Yes, there will be weeds, but there will be flowers as well.
Each field has flowers and weeds as each life has accomplishments and failures. You can’t get one without the other. But the beauty is in the variety.
And you can always focus on what you want to acknowledge more: the weeds or the flowers.
I decided to go for the flowers.
I hope you do too!
Marijeta Matijas is a holistic writing coach in training + NLP practitioner, published author and speaker, communication strategist and publishing consultant. She helps writers to express themselves, find words that resonate with them and their audience and she helps them tell their story. She believes everyone has a story worth telling and that each story can be a game changer for those reading it.