The Importance of Relational Pruning (2016) – There are tasks in this life that I am not good at, and I know it. For some strange reason, I have never been able to master the art of getting a good water tight joint when soldering two copper water pipes together – plumbing as a career would prove to be an absolute disaster for me. There are areas in my life where I excel, but they are not vocational pursuits for one reason or another.
Since my days working as a Special Investigator, I have been fascinated by the field of psychology and human behavioural studies. While this might offend some people, certainly my previous years of working with herd type animals (cattle and horses) has provided me with a unique and down to earth perspective as I now stand back observing humanity.
We live in an era where the vast populace has placed greater significance on intelligence over common sense. Where many hold to the ideology that “what’s right for me, is obviously right for them.” This socialist based belief system has slipped its way into the inner workings of every circle, even among those who tout FREEDOM as their ultimate prize.
Seldom do I own a garden where a rose bush does not grow. A rose bush is much more than just a flower. If we allow common sense to reign, a rose bush teaches us many great and critical life lessons.
If you have ever taken the time to walk through a neighbourhood, undoubtedly you have noticed that one neighbour with an incredible green thumb who grows the best flowers and the best vegetables when those on every side manage to raise little more than weeds.
A healthy rosebush is a vibrant display of greenery kissed with colourful blooms, and yet, great rosebushes don’t just happen on their own, they require nurturing and pruning. Without proper pruning, a rose bush can never reach its full potential.
A truly gifted rose gardener knows:
- Which healthy buds or branches will conflict with other branches;
- Which branches are showing signs of disease or injury;
- To remove the deadwood which crowds the interior of the bush preventing limbs to grow in an uncrowded environment;
- To remove the sucker shoots that grow up from roots, never to produce a blossom.
Pruning is a process which results in some form of proactive ending – one thing is removed for the health and benefit of what remains.
In life and business, there are 3 kinds of prunings which must occur if we as individuals or organizations are going to remain healthy and vibrant.
Relational Pruning Type #1
Roses have a way of producing far more buds than the rosebush, from a nutritional perspective, can properly sustain. If the rose bush is to reach it’s fullest potential, some buds have to be strategically culled. Those culled buds are removed completely, never to return. Once removed, the bush can divert its fullest nutritional resources to the remainder of the rosebush.
Relational Pruning Type #2
Every rose bush will experience disease, fungus, bugs such as aphids, mould or damage to a branch. A gardener will for a period of time try to treat and nurse the bush along, but at some point it becomes clearly evident that a pruning must occur — the complete removal of what is bad in order to preserve what is good.
Relational Pruning Type #3
How often have we walked by a rosebush only to notice thick older dead growth taking up space in the heart of the bush? This dead growth is known as “deadwood”, and deadwood, for the sake of the plant must always be removed. Deadwood otherwise sits around, occupying valuable real estate, contributing nothing positive to the plant.
The Importance of Relational Pruning
Just as with roses, in life and business there are three types of necessary relational prunings.
- We must learn to prune away the suckers who do nothing more than drain our resources without contributing to the overall health of our own self or business (the plant).
- If we are part of a toxic or abusive relationship which cannot be corrected and brought back to a place of health and happiness for all involved, then a pruning must occur.
- As with a rosebush, if it becomes abundantly obvious that something is already dead, then the deadwood must be pruned away.
Everything about your life and existence on this planet relies on a limited amount of resources – time, personal health, emotions, skillset, and money. If we walk through life, refusing to relationally prune on occasion, then we will never come close to our fullest and happiest potential.
The flip side of this coin comes to us when people for all the wrong reasons “prune” someone from their life.
Pruning – Hurtful or Harmful
It’s seldom that I as a writer open up to disclose a very personal and painful part of my life – my divorce in 1997. Every divorcee has a story, and yet, just like me, we understand that due to the potential legal ramifications from the other side we cannot openly discuss what really took place inside the privacy of a relationship that came to an end.
No one marries with the intention of divorcing, and in that sense, I was no different. While I cannot publicly say what all took place during the years of my marriage, I can say that well beyond the point of it becoming painfully clear that a pruning was required, I decided to prune my relationship (a decision, which if given the same circumstances, I would make again without hesitation).
My divorce was deeply painful for me. Widows and widowers know the pain of loss. In death, there is a finality, but in divorce there is a slow gut wrenching tearing apart, especially in a hostile divorce. My divorce rocked every core belief that I had been taught as a child and youth. Core beliefs which were not necessarily truths, but more so myths posing as truths.
Added to the personal pain and deep sorrow (grieving) experienced in the aftermath of my divorce, was the injury heaped upon the remnant of my household by the religious community. At a time of deep dark sorrow, I witnessed more hell coming from the religious community (especially the leadership) than I thought possible, leaving me ashamed to admit that I was ever once a part of that community. Once the reality of the situation set in, I never set foot in a church again, and for this reason I never attended my own father’s church funeral. What was once deeply valued to me has, through its own collective toxic perverse and abusive cult-like conduct, become repulsive and no longer desired in my life.
Pruning a rosebush is easy, for we are emotionally detached. In business and in personal relationships, prunings are not always so easy. The question many ask is, “Is it then wise to do something hurtful or harmful?”
There is a huge difference between what is hurtful, and what is harmful.
Last week I went to a Doctor to have him look at a foot I had twisted four weeks earlier. One of the first things the Doctor did was grab my foot and bend it in every direction possible – hurtful doesn’t come close to describing the pain he generated. While the doctor’s actions were hurtful, they were not harmful. To determine the seriousness of my injury, the doctor knew he must risk my temporary discomfort to provide direction which would prevent my injury from becoming more harmful in the future.
In personal and business relationships, sometimes we must take actions which are hurtful in the moment to stop or prevent further interactions which would undoubtedly turn harmful in the long run.
Relational Pruning — Everyone Will Prune Differently
In my post-divorce years, one thing has become abundantly clear – few people will understand your reasons for cutting out or pruning someone from your life.
Every private world is just that… PRIVATE! People on the outside will never truly know or understand the anguish taking place inside someone’s private world, and yet in spite of this reality there is no shortage of toxic individuals who somehow feel they have to have a say in the matter.
In life, prunings happen for reasons not always apparent to others, nor does it need to be apparent to them. The prunings in your life are based on decisions made for your over all well being, and not for the reasons meddlers have, or those looking in at your situation as if they were viewing your life on their own television sets.
Sometimes in life, one pruning opens the centre of a rosebush to reveal the realization that other prunings are also necessary. In my post divorce years, after a pruning occurred in my marriage, it became painfully evident that further relational prunings would be required. Yes, relational prunings are painful/hurtful, but to not make those prunings would prove to be in the long run harmful.
In my post divorce years I have pruned many people out of my life, especially a very perverse and toxic religious community, as well as those who have against my wishes tried to steer/manipulate me back onto a path which would have me interacting with my ex. I have also had to prune from my life those who through their toxic meddling have tried to determine what went wrong in my marriage, and bring correction when its painfully evident they have no clue at all as to what they are talking about.
We must always be diligent to remember when faced with a divorcing couple that when abuse has occurred in a relationship, those who try to push that relationship back together, through extension become the abusers and must, for the sake of the victim’s long term well being be pruned out of one’s life.
Pruning is always permanent. A pruned rose bud, can never be attached back onto a bush at a later date in time.
I have pruned what became abundantly clear to be a very perverse toxic church community from my life, because it was the only remaining healthy action I could take.
When an outsider’s actions bring a person to the point where a relational pruning is necessary, we must never forget… relational prunings are always permanent.
When we prune, a backlash is almost always going to happen. When people are hurt, they habitually cry out “OUCH!” We cannot control how someone else will react or interpret our actions. We can only stand resolute in our belief that what we are doing is in our best long term interest.
Relational Pruning — the healthiest businesses, and the healthiest people are those who have learned how to relationally prune correctly.
Writer… James C. Tanner