Pearls and Weeds

Are you a weeder? Folks, I’m talking about gardening here. If you are anywhere near a garden, you will notice that there are weeds (even in some gardens with careful weeders). Did you know that the definition of a weed is a plant in the wrong place? What one individual considers “weedy” may be different from another’s viewpoint. I’m calling dandelions a weed in my yard, as they are trying to replace my grass. They also blow themselves willy-nilly into my garden beds. I have an organic garden and dandelions are taking advantage of land without toxic products.

Dandelion greens are considered a health food, but I always found that they taste bitter. Recently I learned from a registered dietitian that it is only the stem that is bitter! There are health benefits in eating dandies — they lower blood pressure; reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels; fight inflammation; aid in blood sugar management and weight loss; offer vitamins A, C, E and K; deliver iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium; provide high levels of the antioxidant carotene; promote liver health; support healthy digestion; treat constipation; and may have anticancer effects along with boosting overall immune health. Oops! I just gave up 2 barrels of dandy greens.  

When I was in graduate school for 5 years, I did crewel embroidery as my go-to relaxation. One of my projects was a wall hanging of dandelions. They looked cute when I did not own a yard. It took me a long time to grasp the “big picture.”

Swiss psychologist Carl Jung had ideas for the “big picture” in human nature. Many misunderstand his concept of individuation, thinking that it is merely navel-gazing or being selfish, although Jung stated, “… the individual is not just a single, separate being… his [her, or their] very existence presupposes a collective relationship…the process of individuation must lead to more intense and broader collective relationships and not to isolation.”

People separate themselves from dandelions, but especially from other people with differing viewpoints. We each have a garden of thoughts/emotions/sensations filled with both annual ones (temporary) and perennial ones (long-lasting over years). You can decide whether your internal thinking has more blooming flowers or take-over weeds. I am aware that my garden as well as my internal thinking have some of each. I would like to tell you that my internal garden is “blooming” all day but it is not true. However, it is hard to admit to weedy behavior, especially if we are not aware of it.

What if all of us recognized our thoughts that “weed out” others? What if we understood a bigger picture that included other people’s “weeds?” Perhaps they planted their thinking in the wrong place. For example, anger often is displaced in the wrong place. Anger often cuts us off from understanding one another.

Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

94. When have you felt cut-off from other people?  

95. What do you do when you realize that you are in cut-off mode?    

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.


  1. Jan—Thanks for your wise thoughts today. I’m especially aware of my varying energy levels and am an admire of Jung. I wrote my thesis on his concept of androgyny and would like to share our thoughts sometime.


  2. Jung’s version of psychology pops into my thinking quite frequently, as I have taken many workshops at the Jungian Institute over the years. However, I have studied Internal Family Systems and EMDR extensively for their effective psychotherapy applications. There are some interlocking ideas among these three approaches.
    Androgyny discussions are certainly relevant in today’s world. Jung led the way to opening up this topic.


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