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Elm: The Last Straw

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You are capable; you handle responsibility; you see your work not as a duty, but as a vocation. You are enthusiastic about what you do (which often involves working for the well-being of others), and committed to overcoming obstacles to achievement.

One day, though, phone service at your office is disrupted, your roof at home springs a leak in the bedroom, where your husband lies in bed with a 104-degree temperature. Up until now, you've managed to ignore your feeling that you're coming down with whatever he has, but now you don't think you can go on.

This is the Elm condition, which rhymes with "overwhelm," a word coincidentally, which is the most succinct way to describe what happens to people whose ability to gracefully and efficiently handle a great deal of responsibility suddenly collapses.

The Elm condition is usually temporary. (You may know people who are in a chronic state of being overwhelmed, but people in that state don't typically handle responsibility well; whereas an Elm person does.)

Elm people are, in fact, so accustomed to doing what they do well that when they suffer even a temporary lapse in their abilities it is more traumatic to them than it would be to less capable people.

This is key to an understanding of the negative Elm syndrome.

For, admirable as Elm people are, they get into trouble when they become over-identified with their roles as responsible, efficient people, when they allow themselves insufficient space to step out of their roles: to relax, to have a wild moment or two of irresponsibility, or simply to do something for themselves.

When they don't allow themselves these safety valves that part of themselves which is monitoring their total development as human/spiritual beings enforces a change of pace.

The Bach Flower Essence Elm helps people at such time. It eases their feelings that they have become weak and powerless, and reminds them gently that, admirable as their accomplishments are, they are more than these accomplishments.

Elm people will recover from their temporary lapse and resume a role of responsibility, but with this flower Essence to help them, they will take a break before they reach the breaking point. They will realize that part of helping others is helping themselves.

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