Control Burn, Baby!

A Controlled Burn

I live in Florida and lately, we’ve been in a drought. In order to decrease the likelihood of serious forest and brush fires in this state, in the cooler months, the authorities will order prescribed hazard reduction burning of certain areas… or controlled burns.

Fires are set on purpose to reduce the amount of fuel that would be available in the event that a lightning storm or cigarette-butt tosser might cause a fire to grow out of control. And fires can recycle the nutrients that are tied up in old plant growth, allowing for new growth. It’s like nature’s version of de-cluttering!

It’s Not Pretty

Because controlled burns are “real fires” too, there’s smoke, there’s flames, and there are acres of blackened trees and ash left after one is done. It’s not pretty. Even though you know it’s all for a good cause, it’s sad to see perfectly good trees burnt to the ground.

Green Out of the Blackness

But just a month or two after a controlled burn, like magic (that of course isn’t magic), there’s all this incredible green that begins to come up. There is new growth everywhere, coming up out of the charred blackness.

Hazard Reduction

In life, there are times when a controlled burn is also a very good idea…think “hazard reduction,” just like the fire control authorities do. You have to determine what areas need to be trimmed of deadwood: old, dried-out stuff that would just be a liability in a major future crisis. Unfortunately, some live green stuff is going to also have to be sacrificed while you’re doing a controlled burn.  Again, it’s not pretty.

You can’t just get rid of the dead stuff. There may be some casualties as you are making room for new growth.

 What Do You Need to Get Rid Of?

Think of something in your life that is old, dead, dried-up, weighing you down, and will probably be a liability to you in the future when the going gets tough…. a life or health hazard. It could be a habit, a commitment, a relationship, an addiction, an obligation, a responsibility… something that is unhealthy, toxic, or killing you slowly… but so slowly you might not realize it until it’s too late and the fire is out of control.

What would it be like to do a controlled burn? What live, green things would be sacrificed as part of doing a controlled burn? What would be the good things you would lose if you did the controlled burn?

 What Would Like to Have More Of?

What would you be making room for in the way of new growth by doing the burn? What do you need more of in your life that there is no room for now, because of all the deadwood and dry brush taking up space? Would it be worth it in the long run to do the burn?

If the answer is yes, then get ready to light your fire!!!  🙂

DrAnita Sanz, PhD, Psychologist

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