The secret to permanent positive change? Geraniums

As a resilience coach, I often get asked for 'secrets' to things. Life hacks, shortcuts, etc. I think a lot of people expect me to start droning on about how hard work gets results - because we have this idea that resilience is hard-won and painful. But I am all for the life hacks.


I think the more resilient you are, the more ease you can bring into your world. I don't think you have to “earn” happiness, self-love, contentment or joy. And this culture we have that good things have to be got through blood, sweat and tears only serves the people who are trying to sell us solutions.

So, what's my secret to permanent, positive change? I'll tell you. Plant some geraniums.

Not expecting that, were you?

Most of us resist change. We don't like it. Even to the point that we will stick to a status quo that feels hard or depressing because it feels preferable to the uncertainty on the other side of change. And it's this resistance to change that often makes it the hardest when you're trying to get something new to stick. Discipline and pushing yourself might work for a few weeks.

But, after that, you'll ping back to your baseline mindset and beliefs - and if they are that change is hard, change is not possible for you, or you're not good enough for the results of that change (for example), then you're going to be quickly undone. When it comes to that underlying mindset, changing it involves swapping out negative core beliefs for new truths - and the process of growing geraniums can be really helpful with that. 

A quick note on why I chose geraniums:

When I was a lawyer, in my mid-20s living in London, I got dumped by my boyfriend of five years. It was a devastatingly painful breakup that I didn't think I could survive because of the mindset I had at the time. I didn't have very supportive people around me then and I felt very lost and powerless.

Then, one day walking around a market with my parents (who were trying to console me), I bought a geranium plant. Six months later, I had two huge window boxes blooming with red flowers. Everywhere I moved after that, I planted window boxes with geraniums - here's why.

1. Growing plants makes you realise what you can control

...and that you have to accept what you can't.

Maybe it sounds weird but I hadn't realised that everything that lives ultimately dies. Every beautiful red geranium flower lost its petals in the end. My geraniums barely flowered in winter. As soon as the spring came, they were like triffids. All of this was totally out of my control and it was a great lesson in surrender - in really appreciating the reality of life, and how fleeting it is for all of us (perspective!).

I did what I could to keep the plants alive. Sometimes I made mistakes and they died, so I learned and carried on. Sometimes they died for no reason I could fathom - or thrived because of nothing I had done. Either way, I learned a great lesson in acceptance as the starting point for change.

2. You'll learn about appreciating beauty and joy

I was a perfectionist focused on achievement and that was how I defined and valued myself. Beauty and joy were superficial and nice to have, that was all. The first spring that my geraniums bloomed, I found myself just sitting and staring at them. What is this feeling of warmth and contentment, I wondered? It was a simple appreciation of something that gave me joy just by its existence.

These plants allowed me to recognise that this is something I respond to and something that makes me happy. And it allowed me to practice feeling joy - because if you're not that used to joy (and I was not) then it can be something that needs practising, believe it or not.

3. Geraniums multiply massively and grow abundantly

(A lot like good things in life)

Many of our most limiting beliefs are based on ideas about good things taking time, being hard or having to wait for them. Sometimes that's true, but not always. I was overwhelmed by how much these geraniums grew with so little effort from me. They were abundant and beautiful and all I'd really done was show up for them every day and do the basics. I wasn't a gardener, and I didn't do a course, I just had a go and that was the result.

I don't believe that if you just think positive thoughts good things will happen. But I know that when you are open to good things and expecting positives, abundance is more likely to happen because of how the brain works (just Google 'confirmation bias'). These plants were a great reminder.

4. Regular habits (watering, nourishing, sunlight, repotting) reap results

In resilience coaching, I talk a lot about habits, as these are the basics for being resilient. Resilience itself is a habit i.e. it's the result of the thoughts and actions you have and do every day. Geraniums are basically the perfect metaphor because it's the small daily actions that create the best possible environment in which the plants can grow.

Transferring this onto your own life would mean looking at the habits that provide you with the basics like water is to plants; how you nourish yourself, what your sunlight is (creativity? connection?), and whether you're currently in a pot that's just a bit too small for the growth that you're capable of.

5. Taking responsibility for growth

Another great lesson for me from the geraniums was that they were my responsibility. Weather and nature would do so much but, if I neglected them, this increased the chances that they would die. And if I gave them my time and effort then I could increase the chances that they would thrive. Ultimately, they were my responsibility. For me, at the time, this had a lot of resonance.

When I was younger I had quite a big victim complex and I hadn't realised how much this was disempowering me. When I took responsibility for these plants I realised that, yes, it meant I could fail but it also gave me power to create change. And in my life, it sparked the realisation that this was on me, no one was coming to save me and no matter how much had happened to me previously in my life, I still wasn't going to get any special treatment. I was always going to be responsible for my own growth. How terrifying and how liberating.

When it comes to change and life lessons that land, there are so many wonderful metaphors all around us. For me, geraniums are now a constant reminder of just what can be achieved - and enjoyed - when we understand and accept life in all its blooming glory.

Resilience coaching will shift your perspective and allow you to live more abundantly and successfully - with more ease and less struggle. Want to find out how? Set up a discovery call with me.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Winchester, Hampshire, SO23
Written by Alex Pett
Winchester, Hampshire, SO23

Alex is an ICF trained and NLP cert coach focused on helping people to deepen their resources to adapt and bounce back - and go on to thrive. She works with resilience to help clients build confidence, recover from burnout, be assertive, set boundaries, find joy and move beyond limiting beliefs. Clients achieve tangible change in 6-9 sessions.

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