Amy Rees Anderson

The Trouble Tree – Leaving Stress at the Door

At the end of a long, stressful day of duties and responsibilities and hard work it can be really hard to disconnect from the office and the stress so that we don’t take it into our homes with us at night.  The last thing our families want to deal with is our stress from the day – they are excited to spend time with us having fun and enjoying one another.  So how do we suddenly switch modes and leave it all behind when work is over?

Our families deserve a happy “us” and that means we have to train ourselves to leave a hard day behind us and allow ourselves to focus on our families when we get home.  I recently heard a story called “The Trouble Tree” that shared a great example of how we can make that happen:

“The Trouble Tree”

The carpenter who was hired to help a man restore an old farmhouse had just finished his first day on the job and everything that could possibly go wrong went wrong. First of all, on his way to work he had a flat tire that cost him an hour’s worth of pay, then his electric saw broke, and after work his old pickup truck refused to start.

His new boss volunteered to give him a lift home and the whole way to his house the carpenter sat in stone silence as he stared out his window. Yet on arriving, he invited his boss in for a few minutes to meet his family. As they walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When he opened the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was one big smile as he hugged his two small children and kissed his wife.

Afterwards, the man walked his boss to his car to say thank you. Now on their way out of the house, the boss’ curiosity got the best of him so he had to ask the man about the tree on the front porch. He said, I noticed when you came up on the porch before going into your house you stopped and touched the tree, why?

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t stop from having troubles out on the job, but one thing’s for sure – my troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and children. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.”

“Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ‘em up, they aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

———–

What a great idea!  We should all come up with our own symbolic “Trouble Tree” to drop our problems off at night before we enter our homes.  I am going to try it myself and report back on whether it makes a difference or not.  If anyone else has ideas like this story that they have found helpful please share them in the comments on this blog.  I am always happy to hear new ideas on how to handle stress – we can all use them!

Have a great Thursday everyone!

~Amy

 

10 Comments

  • Bradley says:

    I need one of those trees….lol!! Great message though Amy!!

  • Sameer says:

    Very true. To be happy, We need to change ourselves instead of changing others. For sure I will have a smile on my face when I walk in the house today evening. Thanks for the post.

  • Bruna Brown says:

    Awesome!! I am going to try it!!;)

  • Brittany says:

    What a great idea! I struggle with this from time to time as well and I know it affects my husband. I am going to leave my stress on a trouble tree!

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Leta says:

    Great reminder – Thank you Amy!

  • Delcia says:

    I just think of the bright side and keep the eternal perspective. Will this really matter in the end? If not, then why worry about it? 🙂

  • Harrison says:

    Appreciate this post. Willl try it out.

  • Samantha says:

    I have always told husband to do this. He gets home in a bad mood due to his unhappiness at work and does the “kick the cat” and finds faults in everything I do. I dont think a “trouble tree” is in need here. He refuses to go to couple therapist.. Folks, I need a forest so he can get lost in it & evaluate his actions. Sometimes it’s just time to go. Even after 18yrs.

  • Rob says:

    Unfortunately I find this idea actually perpetuates a problematic point of view. That people can just separate themselves from their emotions. Similar is the idea of “when you go to work you leave your personal problems at the door”. The truth is that those stressors don’t go anywhere just because you are ignoring them. They still exist and are still having an impact on your mental wellbeing. Putting a mask on to separate different parts of our life is likely to cause more harm than good in the long run.

  • Teal says:

    Hello. I have become a rapid Response chaplain in the last year. Now my friend open up and share their pain with me. I have been holding on to it. I was praying about it and came across your post soon after. Thank you so much.

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