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Do People See You as a Tree or as Land?

When you meet new people, during the first conversations some of the questions that come up are designed to get to know you. What do you do for living? What other activities do you enjoy? Who is your family and what do they do? After this first conversation, you can often determine who just wants to get something from you and who truly cares about your feelings, your health, or your goals in life. I believe there are only two ways in which people look at you: One is as a tree to pluck your fruits and other as land to cultivate.

When I was younger, I was struggling because I did not like how some friends took advantage of my willingness to help others. When I met with them, they always asked me for help with something, and I gave up many activities in order to help them. Additionally, I observed that they did not put any priority on helping me but rather enjoyed a release of stress while I was overloaded. My efforts did not bring me any benefit.  In most cases, my sense of responsibility does not allow me to be irresponsible, and I preferred to fulfill the commitment I had made with them, leaving behind my own responsibilities. This made me angry with myself.

However, I could count on other friends who were interested in knowing how I felt. They let me share my worries with them, and that was the first time that I could note that they only wanted to help me. Finally, in some sessions at a church I learned to distinguish between these two kinds of friends that were around me: Those that mostly want to obtain something from me, which I define as those that look at you like a tree, or those that mostly want to help you, which I define as those who look at you as land.

However, I am not arguing that you should exclude or reject friends who need your help because helping people is good. You just need to learn to find a balance between your own obligations and important activities and the time you spend helping others. This sounds a little selfish, but it is not. This is an element of self-respect, and it will help you deal with people that only see you as a tree. In addition, you have to learn to tell your friends when something about their behavior bothers you. This will define your friendship because if they still communicate with you, the friendship is true. But if they get angry and stop communicating with you, that was not true friendship.

There are two ways in which people look at you, and you can distinguish between them depending on how they relate to you. People who just want to get something from you can be defined as those who see you as a tree only to pluck your fruits, or people who just want to know you and help you can be defined as those who see you as a land to cultivate. Now, start thinking about how you treat others. How are you with the people around you? Do you contact them only when you need something? Or are you looking for ways to help them to pursue their goals and dreams? A good way to improve the world is to treat people as we would like them to treat us, so I encourage you to start seeing others as a land to cultivate and not as a tree from which to pluck fruits.