By Emily Soccorsy
One of the core concepts we dance with at Root + River is the idea of repelling.
Most people think of repelling as a bad thing.
We beg to differ. Repelling is also very good.
Think of bug repellent, ant repellent, and, if you’re a plant mom like me, the soapy water you spray on your plants to repel those tiny gnat-like bugs that suddenly appear in your houseplants and become a major nuisance throughout your home.
(I despise those things.)
In terms of branding, most people think of it as the act of getting your brand out in the world so it can attract all the people.
We think of brand as being clear enough about who you are, what you believe and how you want to work so that opportunities not in alignment will be repelled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Once I explain the idea of repelling, people seem enthusiastic about it.
And yet. Repelling is not about coming up with a self-righteous list of things you simply dislike. (Believe me, I’ve fallen victim to that seductive self-righteousness.)
Practicing the art of repelling is much messier than that for a few reasons.
First, repelling is something we’re wired against. As human beings, we have an innate drive to be loved, to belong, to be accepted. Our survival has depended upon that ability.
Secondly, repelling requires some hardcore self-truth telling, which can be painful and onerous, to say the least.
To effectively repel, you must first examine and come to terms with what it is you need to push against, push away from.
Deceptively, sometimes the things you need to push away from are the things that feel easy. You might be great at them, and at the same time they could be crutches to your growth.
To deeply reflect on this, consider asking yourself: What do I need to let go of to grow? What is it that I have been putting up with?
If you are still at a loss, consider doing an energy audit for a few days or a week. At the end of each day list out 5-7 of your major activities for the day. Reflect. For each item, note if they were energy positive, negative or neutral. Feel free to jot feelings associated with those activities. Did you feel happy when you were doing them? Did you feel sad or disoriented? Notice.
Give yourself several days or a week of data to work off of. Then, look back on what you have gathered.
If an activity is consistently energy negative, dig in to determine what was the drain associated with. Did you like the project but not the person you were doing it with or for? Try to tease out what made they feel heavy and why. Go to the root.
Sometimes, things that exhausts us are tangled up with those that are pleasant for us.
Once you are clear about what you are ready to shed or change, it’s time to take an inventory of your courage to do so.
Repelling is hard and it will require courage to say, “I am not for everyone,” or “This project just isn’t a match for what I really want to do,” or “It’s time for me to make a change and this is going to impact you.”
Repelling demands that we spend time with our beliefs. Not just to know what they are, but to be honest about if we, ourselves, are acting in alignment with them. It’s one thing to know what we believe, and it is a significant another thing to behave those beliefs, to the best of our ability, with consistently (but not perfection) out in the real world.
Without that veracity, our repelling will come off as insincere or manipulative.
Ultimately, that kind of inconsistency does harm not just to your brand, but to your spirit as well.
And nobody wants that.
A final word of encouragement: be brave! Examining our lives and work through the lens of repelling is ultimately a way of distilling our days and weeks down to what matters most.
It is a beautiful process of refinement that can bring a deeper sense of peace and clarity to our gardens.
It won’t be perfect or ideal and probably there will be some pain along the way. That’s to be expected. And I think you’re strong enough to weather it.
Ultimately, healthy repelling gives us a great gift.
It eliminates many of the distractions of modern life, and lead us to more soulful living.