Can We Give Ourselves the Green Thumb Treatment?

March 29, 2018
Tamera Anderson-Hanna
Tamera Anderson-Hanna

Tamera Anderson-Hanna is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Certified Addiction Professional, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and became a Registered Yoga Teacher while coping with breast cancer in 2015. She owns Wellness, Therapy, & Yoga in Florida where she provides personal wellness services and coaching and she is a public speaker on wellness-related topics. You can connect with her at

There have been studies that suggest if individuals speak poorly to a plant, it does not seem to thrive as well as a plant given positive or constructive feedback.

I related to a quote recently which was a reminder of how important it is for us to drink water, eat properly and get sun. The quote was suggesting that we are much like plants, only with complicated feelings. While our basic self-care may be simple, it is all those emotions that sometimes make things more complicated and confusing. But maybe we can give the green thumb to our healing.

Coping with cancer certainly brings up a mix of feelings, including anger, fear, guilt and grief, to name a few. If we were plants, we could simply focus on the basics of food, water, sun, rest and shelter, but it is emotions which make us human. Most of my emotions while coping with cancer came up when thinking about end-of-life issues and changes to my body.

Now that I am on the other end of cancer and working with survivors, I sometimes help others by reinforcing the use of body positive language as part of the self-care routine. I suggest we allow ourselves to grieve and take time to cry, scream, laugh and express all the things we need to get out, but at some point, we begin to heal by supporting our body and thoughts with healing words. Sometimes we have a negative habit of filling our self-talk with put downs. These are the types of words and phrases we would not say to a close friend or family member if they were healing.

There have been studies that suggest if individuals speak poorly to a plant, the plant does not seem to thrive as well as a plant given positive or constructive feedback. We are obviously more complicated than plants, but maybe there is something to be said about the importance of speaking well to our bodies, for it is the food we are giving to our brain.

While challenging and changing our self-talk can take time, maybe you can try pinpointing at least two major themes or unconstructive thoughts you say to yourself. Perhaps if you tell the part of your body that has cancer how much you hate the cancer, you can switch the message. How much do you value and love this part of your body? You are fighting cancer there, so maybe we need to give a little more care to the area needing healing. If you have lost a body part, can you begin to say a kind word to that part of your body? While you may not initially believe the words, you can practice more and help with your healing, adjustment and acceptance. The technique is similar to the way we might use assertive power-positive words in business. It is a way of building confidence, much like how we practice a power pose if speaking publicly.

Initially we may still have some self-doubt or lack confidence, but the more we practice the skills and words, the more they become our beliefs and habits. Try using the words "I am" and following it with a kind word or two. Maybe with power-positive words we can give ourselves the green thumb treatment.