Do you have to 'break' habits? Or can you shed them like this tree sheds bark?


One of the things I love about living in Australia is the grace of the gum trees.

Even in the bustle of the city, they’re dotted around the streets, their leaves quietly whispering of stuff more grounded and true. And recently it’s been the time of year for some of them to shed their bark (like in the photo, above).

It’s an inspiring process in a metaphorical way – a time to slough off the old and let the new parts of you come to the surface.

Sometimes, for the trees, it might look messy for a while, with great strips of their old selves peeling off and swinging in the wind before they fall away. But, with a bit of time and persistence, they come clean again, with brand new skins to face the world in.

So, if you could shed your own bark like these trees, what would you be shedding?

Are there any habits which hold you back in some way? Maybe you devalue yourself in some way, or judge yourself harshly? (Or maybe you’ve tended to judge others in that light).

Or maybe your bark is a kind of isolation you keep yourself cocooned in – never quite connecting authentically with other people because it’s been too painful in the past.

Or perhaps there are habits of thinking you’d like to shed – or automatic responses that want to dive in and make your decisions for you when certain buttons are pushed.

Maybe there’s a certain sense of complacency that’s set in over the years that you’d like to shift.

Or maybe you just hide some parts of you that long for the light.

So many reasons… so much ‘bark’.

What might it be like if you could just let it all drop away from you? Even if it’s a process that takes a bit of time, like these trees.

What might it be like to see that perhaps these things which are shed aren’t necessarily “you.” But perhaps just ways of being that you got used to wearing.

How might you feel to stand tall and clean and shining, having shed the stuff that just feels a bit old to you now? Overdone. Overused.

And how amazing to think that it might be possible to invite that process into your life again and again, as your own internal seasons shift, and you feel ready to release the new new.

(It all brings to mind a whole new layer to the idea of ‘turning over a new leaf’).


Text and photo copyright: Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar
Gabrielle Gawne-Kelnar (Grad Dip Counselling & Psychotherapy) is a writer, blogger and Sydney psychotherapist in private practice at One Life Counselling & Psychotherapy. Gabrielle also facilitates telephone support groups for people who are living with cancer, for their carers, and for people who have been bereaved through a cancer experience. She provides regular therapeutic updates on facebook and Twitter @OneLifeTherapy.



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    Last reviewed: 20 Apr 2012

APA Reference
Gawne-Kelnar, G. (2012). Shedding Your Skin And Releasing Yourself From Old Habits. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 28, 2015, from


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