Hello, everybody, my name is Dr.Talia Marcheggiani. I am a naturopathic doctor with a focus in mental health and hormonal health. Despite the increasing amount of research into mental health conditions and psychiatric conditions, and the increase in interventions and early recognition and pharmaceutical therapies that come with mental health diagnoses, we're actually seeing more debility in mental health outcomes: more debility, more morbidity. So we're seeing worsening of outcomes even though we're applying more interventions.
So, how could this be? You expect that the better the drugs that we're developing, the less disease we should encounter, if those drugs are actually working to counteract the disease process. We're not seeing that in the realm of mental health, especially when it comes to the common conditions such as depression and anxiety. And when it comes to disease in the west, we're not really winning the war against disease. So, things like cardiovascular disease, cancer, hormone imbalances such as diabetes, hypothyroidism,mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, ADD and ADHD, infertility, neurological disease such as MS and Parkinson's, autoimmune disease, such as, again, MS and things like Hashimoto's Thryoiditis and myasthenia gravis, and immuno deficiencies such as HIV.
All of these diseases are on the rise, all of these chronic, lifelong diseases. And so, despite these advances in research and drug development, we're not seeing an improvement in our ability to manage these diseases or prevent them. And there is obviously not one simple solution to this problem, but one thing I want to point our attention to is this increase in stress and this connection to stress and the diseases that I mentioned. Obviously it's not just one cause, that would simplify the entire system to an almost ludicrous degree, but there is an estimation that 75-90% of hospital visits are either directly or indirectly related to stress. And some of the symptoms of stress, so chronic stress or even acute stress, are an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, decreased memory and cognition,disrupted levels of serotonin, leading to depression and anxiety, disrupted levels ofthe other hormones such as dopamine and norepinephrine, and addiction to stress, so a chance in theopioid receptors and the brain structure, altered hormone synthesis, increased inflammation,altered gut flora, etc. , etc. , and a change in the immune system.
So, basically, every system of the body is affected by stress. And being in a prolonged, acute state of stress is lethal to the body. So, we can look at the rise of cardiovascular disease and diabetes and the fact that stress increases our heart rate and increases our blood pressure and increases our blood sugar. And we can make some of those connections between the symptoms of stress and the diseases that are increasing in our society. When it comes to mental health, we see how our neurotransmitters and our brain structure and our gut and our immune systems are affected by chronic stress and we can infer that some mental health conditions are either caused by or aggravated by this chronic stress situation. And, so, by not addressing stress and by not looking into stress and finding healthy ways to manage it, we're doing ourselves a disservice in the management of these diseases and the prevention of them. So, there's a few theories that connect—there's that Monoamine Hypothesis when it comes tomental health, that people with depression and anxiety have this inherent brain imbalance. So they don't make enough serotonin, or their brains for some reason aren't responding toserotonin. Again, it's a very reductionistic model because it reduces all of the experience of depression and anxiety and conditions such as ADD and ADHD and bipolar down to one single neurotransmitter and it oversimplifies the entire system and the entire constellation of symptoms that people can experience and the life situations surrounding these conditions and the fact that they're comorbid with things like stress and poverty and childhood trauma and those kinds of things.
But there's some other theories that we can look at, and some other kind of pieces of the puzzle that we can add to create a more inclusive narrative. So there's a theory called the Mind-Body Theory and this kind of arises as a counteraction,or a counter-philosophy to what Descartes discovered or decided that he discovered,which was that the mind and body are separate entities—this dualistic hypothesis. We know absolutely that that's not true but our mind and body are completely connected and that our mind probably doesn't reside only in our brain because our nervous system extends throughout the entire body and our minds are also inter-relational, so they're a product our environments and our relationships with other people as well. We know that the gut is the second brain, for the amount of neurons that it inhabits and the neurotransmitters that influence its function. Our gut health affects our mood depending on how healthy it is. And we call this connection, another word for it, a more scientific word, is "Psychoneuroimmunology". This is the connection between the immune system, the nervous system, and our psychology,our mood: our thoughts and emotions. So, we know that everything in the body is interconnected and you can't prescribe anantibiotic and not expect that there'll be sequelae or consequences, or side effects that affect a different body system. And we see that all the time now, but we have to understand how tugging on one thread in this interconnected web is going to affect another piece of it further down the line. There's also this Energetic Model of mental health, and that's that the emotions have their own energy. There's this theory that the emotions can manifest as physical symptoms and we see this in the work of Gabor Mate, who writes extensively about stress and addictions and mental health,in his book "The Body Says No". He talks about how the health of our thoughts and emotions impact our physical stress. And so it's not just that our thoughts and emotions can impact our mental health, butal so our physical health and might set the stage for us to get conditions like cancer,or autoimmune disease, and all of the other diseases that I mentioned.
So, when it comes to stress and our mental health and emotional wellbeing, we need to take a proactive approach. Just like we do with getting vaccinations, and preventing colds and flus, and getting proper nutrition, and exercise and all of that, we need to be strategic about how we manage our stress. The World Health Organization defines mental health as "A state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life,can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community. "So, notice that this definition isn't simply the absence of disease and it's not necessarily a normalizing—being "happy" or not having a diagnosis. This definition is about realizing one's potential and experiencing emotional "wellness", for lack of a better word. So, an ability to cope with life's stressors and to live a life of meaning and purpose. So I want to talk about 5 tools that are really important for establishing a self-care and emotional wellness routine, for improving mental health. These strategies may not be sufficient enough for more serious psychiatric conditions, but I believe that they form the foundation of proper lifestyle strategies to help with increasing our emotional wellness and our ability to cope with life's stressors. So the first one I want to talk about is something called "Self-Care", which is becoming kind of a buzzword in high-stress communities such as universities, and even some offices and corporations. So, one of the first things I want to talk about is the power of saying "No". Sometimes saying No, especially for more agreeable individuals, and a lot of the time for women,saying no is a difficult thing for us to do. When I give this presentation to a group I always ask them, "Why is it hard for you to say no?What would happen if you didn't say no?Let's say a friend invites you out and you're just not feeling it, or you're invited toa baby shower and it's just more than you can handle and you wish you could say no,but you don't. "And, one thing that everybody says is that they'd feel guilty, if they said no. This is sort of universal. And so I ask them, "What would happen if you didn't say no?What would happen if you went along with it, even if you just didn't have the energy todevote to this commitment?"And people say that they'd feel resentment. And so when it comes to deciding what things to take on and what things to discriminateagainst in terms of the tasks that we take on, the commitments that we make, we're kindof stuck between this dichotomy between feeling guilt and resentment spectrum. One of my mentors, Gabor Mate, in his book "The Body Says No", talks about when facedwith this choice between guilt and resentment, especially when we're more prone to guilt-avoidanceby saying yes more often than maybe we should, he said "choose guilty every time", because the feeling of guilt, and obviously this isn't a hard or fast rule, but the feeling of guilt is more indicative that you're taking care of yourself. His theory as well is that resentment tends to build up in the body and contributes tothe cause of more di sease such as cancer and this cancer personality that he writes about is the woman that will say yes to things and is scared to say no out of guilt. So, resentment is far more damaging for the body and therefore, when trying to avoid guilt,maybe move towards guilt, especially when you know that you might be taking on more than you should. And also pay attention to the idea that when we say yes to things we're saying no to other things. So, we're always saying "no" and "yes". We only have 24 hours in the day and so, by saying yes to that baby shower that you'd rather not go to, what are you saying no to?Are you saying no to doing a yoga class for you, or getting extra sleep, or saving your money for a family vacation?So, paying attention to those commitments that we make. There's a great article online called "The Law of F- Yes!Or No. "And this law is, if you're faced with a decision and you're not feeling like this, "F- Yes!",then say no and save that time and save those commitments for something else that you're more enthusiastic about. When it comes to self-care, there's another great article that talks about the BACE method,so that's BACE. And this stands for these 4 pillars of self-care. And the first one of body-care. So that's making sure you have a healthy diet, that you're supporting yourself nutritionally,that you're getting movement in, that you're sleeping enough. A is acceptance, just allowing the emotions, and that self-care, that self-love to come through. C is connection, so establishing those interpersonal relationships and prioritizing them, especially relationships that feel nurturing, where you can be your authentic self. And E is enjoyment, finding activities that are fun and cause a sense of enthusiasm and enjoyment in your life. And this is something that's often a problem for a lot of adults with lots of responsibilities that, when I ask them to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how much fun they have, or how satisfied they are with the amount of fun in their life, they often rate it pretty low.
A lecture that I attended, there was a woman who was talking about self-love and improving self-worth and recommends asking oneself this: "what would someone who loves themselves do?Or say?" and that can be pretty powerful for just examining how our internal dialogue is manifesting and how we're talking to ourselves and treating ourselves. Would someone who loves themselves eat that?Or say that?Or do that activity or say yes to that commitment?And, you know, just sitting with that question can be really helpful for changing some behaviors,or adding perspective to our daily lives. There's also this, lastly in the realm of self-care, there's this idea of Wu Wei, which is a Taoist idea, which is translated roughly into the art of "effortless action". In our society we're kind of educated to pair action with effort. So, we don't feel like we deserve success unless our success was the result of a massive amount of effort that we've put in, and stress. And, according to wu wei, this idea that action is objective, we can measure it, but effort is subjective. So, you can see if you're performing an action, but the perception of effort behind it is this kind of subjective and thought-based experience. So, we can do the laundry or DO the laundry. We can do laundry from a place of self-love and self-care, like "I want to care for my clothes, and to have nice clothes to wear tomorrow and I'm going to do this for myself and I'm going to be mindful as I do it". And I'm going to do this out of necessity, but also out of a natural drive that's coming from this place within. Or I can have laundry on my to-do list that's causing me stress. So, sometimes even wu wei is about doing less and not feeling guilty for that.
The second tool for emotional wellness is journalling and writing. This is one of my favorites. So, journalling allows us to keep a record, to get creative, and to engage in self-expression. And when we write we engage both sides of our brains: the motor centres, the language centres, the centres that are involved in language perception and in language generation,also our visual centres. So, a lot of the brain is lit up in the act of writing and that can help integrate some of our deeper thought processes. Writing down things leads to clarity and focus. We're forced to deepen our thought processes and remove ourselves from some of the cognitive loops we might be engaged in. We can complete our thoughts and reach their inevitable, often ridiculous conclusions and this kind of comes from some core beliefs, or, we call them "automatic thoughts. "Like, "I'm a failure" or "I'm worthless". Those kind of things that our brain generates based on past experiences that may not be relevant anymore to who we are now. Through writing we're forced to look inside of ourselves, to causes and explanations for how we feel. We're also able to express ourselves and rid the body of pent up emotions, such as anger and aggression and sadness, shame. I often recommend that people write a letter. Especially if there's someone in the past that's done damage to them, or hurt them. Someone that they miss, sometimes remembering somebody through a letter: sometimes people wish that they could communicate with someone who's passed away or is no longer in their life anymore and, through this letter-writing, you're able to. I also have people write letters to themselves from the perspective of their personality at age 80, and this can sometimes provide perspective for patients who are depressed and young, because it gives them an idea; it increases the perspective of their lives. And sometimes I have people personify and anthropomorphize their problems or addictions and write letters to that or write letters from that and through that process can learn a lot about the relationship between themselves and alcoholism, for example.
There's another great activity I like called the "God Jar", for people that have constant worries or wake themselves up at night and process things or who are anxious about the future—The God Jar or the Wish Jar. And so, you get a mason jar and little pieces of paper and you write things that you're worried about or things that you're anxious about or thinking about and you scrunch them up and throw them into this jar and, in essence, symbolically, you're giving those problems to "God", or to the universe or you're just simply filing them away for later use. And this is sort of a subconscious, or conscious, dumping of your problems, especially if youdon't have immediate control over them. I mean, in the middle of the night you're not going to be able to finish your taxes when you're supposed to be sleeping, or solve a problem at work. And that can often worsen our problems, when we're not getting enough sleep. Then I sometimes have people open up that jar 6 months later and take a look at some of the things they've written and that can also generate feelings of accomplishment and achievement and perspective when you find out that those things that you were so worried about 6 months ago are no longer even relevant and you barely remember them. So, it's pretty powerful.
Another great exercise is something called a Gratitude Journal. And there's a Ted Talk about this that, for 21 days, and I like to tell people to do this for a full month, 28 days. If you write 3 things that you're grateful for at the end of the day for 21 days, it actually changes your brain structure and helps you see things in a more positive light and focus on the blessings, rather than the things that you lack. Our brains have a negative bias. So, they're wired to pay attention to the things that we're missing out on and that we're lacking and when we focus on and acknowledge the things that are going right for us, it can sort of change our perspective. And, throughout the day, as you're doing this exercise, you're going to be paying attention to things that you're going to have to write down later, so you're paying attention to the things that went well, that you want to include in your gratitude journal. And this can have profound effects. There's some studies about journalling. And there was a study that showed that patients with HIV or AIDS, who wrote about their life for 30 minutes had an increased CD4 T cell count—and that's the cells in the body tha tare affected by the HIV virus. So, by simply writing about their lives, something profound, it wasn't just a grocery list. But writing something profound about their lives, such as sharing their life story, actually increased their immune system's ability to function in the face of the HIV virus. And then, similarly, there was another study in patient with rheumatoid arthritis—this is an autoimmune condition—they had these patients write for 20 minutes a day, for 3days, and they found that their symptoms went down and their immuno reactivity went down. So we're seeing these two studies, and we're not exactly sure of the causal effect, these studies are a little bit correlative and very difficult to control for, because patients who are in the study, subjects know if they're writing in their journal or not. But these studies were controlled against people who were just kind of mindlessly writing about grocery lists. So, it was writing about more profound concepts and sort of outlining a significant life event,or life story, or significant events that were happening in the day that had an emotional charge to them. So, we find that engaging in journalling, even 20 or 30 minutes a day, can actually modulate the immune system. So, if you have a immunodeficiency issue, like HIV, it can increase immuno reactivity,and if you have an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis, or asthma, if can lower that immuno reactivity and inflammation. So there's this evidence that journalling and our thoughts and emotions are directly impacting our immune system and our immune system's ability to function and balance itself. The third tool for mental and emotional wellness is interpersonal support. And, being a naturopathic doctor who does a lot of counselling in my practice, I tend to favour psychotherapy and counselling as a form of social support for people that don't feel that they can be authentic or have that deep connection with people in their lives.
There's evidence that loneliness is the new epidemic, especially in our society and, associal animals, connecting with others is part of our biology, part of who we are. Through therapy, what I really like about it, is it can help us reframe the past andour personal identity. We can start to identify some automatic thoughts and core beliefs, which are deep-seated beliefsthat may not serve us anymore in the present and may actually be contributing to feelings of low mood or behaviours that are unwanted. It can also allow us to rewrite our life story, so, looking back on the past and reframingcertain events, from the perspective of someone maybe with more resources and power. For example, someone with a history of trauma may have an idea of powerlessness and being victimized and, in every single story of trauma that I've encountered, people have always responded in some way. Either psychologically, mentally, emotionally, if not in action, and sometimes just recognizing these responses changes our whole perception of the event and our identities in the present,our ability to act in the present. So, there is evidence that stress is related to our perception of things that happen, not actually what happened. So, for example, imagine somebody that's just broken up with their girlfriend and they were very in love. And you can image what their mental and emotional state would be like. Maybe the next day they don't feel like getting out of bed, there's clothes all over the floor,they haven't brushed their teeth, they're feeling extremely sad, and crying. And nothing has changed biologically in this person, but the situation surrounding their life has changed. Then imagine that this person wakes up the next day and they're in this state of low mood and depression. And they get a phone call. And it's their girlfriend saying, "you know, I'd like to get back together, I made a mistake,I'm in love with you and I don't want to be broken up anymore. "So you can imagine that this person's mood is going to change rapidly as the situation changes. And so, there is a change in their circumstances, but not in their physical biology. And sometimes, in past events, there's the story that our minds create around what happened,and then there's the actual events that happened. So you might call your partner and they don't pick up the phone, and we start to create a story about why that is. Maybe it's because they don't love us anymore, they want to break up with us, that we're worthless, that no one's ever loved us, that we'll never find love, that we'll always be alone
But, in actuality, we don't know those things and the only thing that's happening is they're just not picking up the phone and there's thousands of explanations for that. We perceive situations based on our personal histories, our physical conditions, our state of minds, etc. , and things that we've learned in the past and also our core beliefs. So, we filter our experiences through our perceptions and our identities and personalities and so, by understanding more about these things, we can understand why we pick out certain events and draw conclusions from the connection between those events rather than others. There's some people that, when they fail a test, they just think, "Oh, it was a hard test, or maybe I didn't study hard enough. "And there's others that think "I'm a failure, I'll never pass anything, there's no point in trying, I'm dropping out of school. "And so it's not just the event but our perception of the event that change our thoughts, mood and behaviours. Another great thing that therapy and social support can do, is help us identify our passions and purpose in life. So there's a psychological that I really like to listen to called Jordan Peterson that talks about how the purpose of life is not necessarily well-being and happiness, because happiness is a state that can be derived chemically, through doing things like cocaine, or substance abuse, and happiness might just be a disposition that certain people embody better than others and that life is suffering. And this is present in Buddhist philosophy that no matter how we live, we're going to encounter events that are devastating for us, and that are hard for us to deal with. And so, in those situations, we're not going to feel happy, so what's going to drive us? What's going to push us forward? What's going to keep us going in those times and so his theory or idea is that we should look for what makes it worth it: what adds meaning to our life. What is our potential in life?What is our purpose?What gives us that sense of meaning such that, when we encounter these situations of suffering and hopelessness that we're able to continue on. So, having a direction for our lives, and having a sense of identity and purpose that gets us up in the morning and makes us move forward, even when we're not particularly feeling happy that day. Therapy and social support are also great for just self-acceptance. So, having other people mirror back to us who we are and how we're being in the world. The 4th tool for emotional wellness is mindfulness and meditation, so very very powerful tools. It's arguably very difficult to be healthy in this day and age without some form of mindfulness meditation, or meditation practice to combat the increase in stress that we encounter in our society. So, mindfulness is—there's many different techniques, but the main tenant is just taking the perspective of the compassionate, detached observer to our thoughts, emotions and physical sensations. So, when we split our mind or watch our thoughts, we can get a better sense of awareness of how emotions and thoughts arise in our body, pass through our bodies, and how we're not them—that there's this observer role that we can also take, that we can watch ourselves from. Mindfulness allows us to stay in the present and reframe certain situations and just slow time down so that we're not victims to the whims of our biology, that we're able to understand it a little bit more. And there's a great resource on the internet called "Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction"that's a secular kind of meditation by a man in Massachusetts called Jon Kabat Zinn and you can download body scan meditations or take a course in MBSR in your town. I highly recommend them; they're really great for developing mindfulness practice.
There's also yoga, and qi gong and tai qi, and these kind of integrated, mindfulness-based and physical exercises that can help slow us down, bring us into the present and help us observe our minds and emotions a little bit better. And there are amazing for managing stress. There's good evidence building about them helping us deal with stress and manage our mental health conditions. And the 5th tool for mental and emotional wellness is to look at that mind-body connection that I mentioned before. The mind-body theory sees our thoughts and emotions as energy that can impact our cellula rbiology, from that idea of psychoneuroimmunology. And there's increasing evidence about this and how calming our thoughts down, doing some mindfulness meditation, can affect our heart-rate and can affect our blood pressure, and journalling can affect how our immune system responds. There's this idea that if our thoughts and emotions aren't processed properly they can become trapped and stagnated in the body and contribute to disease. So, Gabor Mate mentioned that resentment can build up and lead to things like cancer. It's one of his theories that he's observed through working with patients. We know that there's this connection between physical manifestations of symptoms and physical conditions and certain emotional causes. In medicine we know this because every time a study is done, a randomized control trial,two groups need to be divided amongst the subjects. One is given a placebo, an inert pill. And this idea that someone who believes they're taking medicine will notice a positive effect,is something that we just take for granted, but we build into every single study that we do, if it's a good study. So, this idea that you can take a pill, believe it's helping you, and actually physically notice a change in your body is really remarkable. And this just proves that there's this connection between the mind and body, that we can further explore and exploit.
So, there's things like herbal remedies that help our body increase our cells' resilience to stress and help manage the stress hormone cortisol. And these are some herbs called adaptogens. So, they literally help us adapt to stress. And these are things like withania or ashwaghanda, rhodiola, ginseng, even nervine herbs like St.John's Wort and skullcap can help balance our neurotransmitters and our stress hormones and lower inflammation in the body. Doing self-care things like getting a massage, or getting acupuncture can help. And there's a study that compares acupuncture to Prozac, so getting one acupuncture session a week for 6 weeks was actually comparable to Prozac for decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety. In my practice I always address diet and gut health and just make sure people are absorbing their nutrients, that they're guts are producing the proper amounts of neurotransmitters, that there's the proper bacterial balance, that there's no inflammation being caused by a gut dysregulation. And we also want to remove those external stressors that can be contributing to an impaired digestive system. So, there is this saying that "we are what we eat," but more accurately, we are what we absorb, because you can eat a lot of stuff, but, depending on how you're digestion is functioning, we might not be absorbing all of it and incorporating it into our body,into our cells. So, inflammation in the gut, caused by a bacterial imbalance, or food sensitivities can impact our health and we have some evidence that depression and anxiety can be caused by some latent levels of inflammation in the brain. And we know that there is an impact on gut health and increasing levels of inflammation and also stress. And really lowering that stress response, healing the gut, can have huge impacts on our mood.
Establishing routine, and sleep are major pillars. So, I don't think I've ever encountered a patient who felt mentally healthy when they had disrupted sleep. A lot of the time having a ritual around sleep and getting into a routine and waking up at the same time every day, really working on getting deep sleep—so avoiding electronic use before bedtime, trying to get as many hours before 12 am of sleep as possible, so preferably having a 10pm bedtime or winding down around 10 pm. Doing things like teas, or hot baths, or reading a book before bed or doing some yoga or stretches or meditation before bed to teach the body that it's time to start relaxing is really important and has huge impacts on health, on our mood, on our emotional wellness, our ability to cope with stress, our ability to heal from stress, and our ability to balance inflammation and the immune system. There's evidence that exercise—I mean exercise is arguably the first-line therapy for someone with depression, especially someone under the age of 24. Instead of reaching for pharmaceutical interventions, such as selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors,more psychiatrists are recommending exercise to young patients, which is wonderful. I'm so happy about that! And, so 30 minutes of a moderate to intense form of exercise such as weight training,or running or moving your body, can help release some of those trapped emotions, as well as boost those neurotransmitters and help our body increase its resilience against stress.
And then, finally, I just want to point out that making sure that we're supporting our neurotransmitter synthesis through diet is really important. So, making sure that we're getting enough magnesium, zinc and B vitamins, and proteins and amino acids, which are all helping us create the neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that are going to impact our mood and mental health. So, we can journal, but we are physical beings, and we are a product of our biology. So, by supporting that biology through proper nutrition, we're able to incorporate those nutrients and create the proper components of our body for proper mental and emotional wellness. So, I also like to ask people this miracle question. So, this is the final thing that I'm just going to conclude on. The Miracle Question is from a modality called "Solution-Focused Therapy". And this question is, "if you woke up tomorrow and all of your issues were completely gone,you woke up in an amazing 10 out of 10 state of energy and physical well-being and mental and emotional well-being, what would be possible for you? What would your day look like?"If you can stand in that place and sort of write down what you're aiming at, what you're aiming towards, it helps set the stage for taking the proper actions that preserve your mental and emotional wellness. And it also helps you stand in a new territory, one that's not of disease or illness, but one of possibility.
And, finally, I was at this free meditation circle as we were talking about self-love,and we were talking about how difficult it can be to love oneself. Because, oftentimes we have these core beliefs that drive our psyches and oftentimes these core beliefs are negative. And so what was said was that it's often hard to stand in a place of self-love when you're intent on changing things and you're not happy with where you are now. And so, he said, the person running the meditation said, "self-love is like a garden. So, you can nourish the soil and water the seeds, but you can't actively force the garden to grow. "So what you can do is, you can take care of the things you love in yourself, all the things that you have in your right now, rather than trying to be somewhere that you're not currently at. And this is kind of like when you have, for parents out there, if you have a child, you love your 4-year old child, and you don't put expectations on them that you would a 25-year old. So, you're loving your 4-year old at where they're at, but also recognizing that this is somebody who is developing and so you're loving their potential to develop, just as you're loving their 4-year old incarnation, their 4-year old manifestation of their personalities. So you're loving their potential to grow, just as you love the seeds that you've planted in your garden, but you're also loving things where they're at. And through that act of self-love and tending to the garden, or tending to your child, you're encouraging that growth and development in the directions that you want.