Impostor Syndrome in Nature

What Survival Training Teaches About Impostor Syndrome

In June 2021, I participated in my first survival training course. Let me reiterate: I AM A CITY GIRL! Prior to 2005, I had never really been camping or spent any significant time in the “woods”. Beaches and cities were more my speed.

So much has changed in these last 15+ years. My Plant Awareness journey has completely changed my relationship with the nature outside of myself.  I am still not a recreational camper, but I do have my own tent and do pretty well outdoors, if I don’t say so myself. 🙂

I Push Myself For The Plants! 

Plants have specifically asked me to get to know kin in all types of settings, from urban to rural. City plants call to me as I walk by. They are filled with spunk and grit. I love hearing stories about kin’s relationships to place and the humans that live there, even if some of them are still quite sad. The plant world’s optimism, that ability to see the path toward something better, never ceases to amaze me.

As a negative person by nature–pun intended–with her own limiting beliefs, that optimism and acceptance gives me hope that one day I can be that way, too.

But what about those plants far away from humans–the ones that have ancient knowledge about healthy ecosystem living? The plants that can teach me how to create environments where all beings flourish. I want to also learn from kin! To do this, I need to go farther out into kin’s natural habitat.

The Problem Stems from Impostor Syndrome

You can read all the books and study the training manual, but until you get out there and do it for yourself, you’ll never believe you can do it.

When I first started contacting plants in kin’s natural environment, I asked a good friend and wood’s guide to take me on a private walk. Honestly, I was completely embarrassed and scared, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone. Sure, I had all this fancy knowledge about how plants think and what plants do, but I couldn’t tell a Pine from a Spruce or even identify one edible plant underfoot. Oh, and to top it all off I didn’t even think I had the stamina to walk up the hillside. I was a fraud!

People were coming to me to learn about plants, how could I respond with authenticity? Talk about major impostor syndrome!

Luckily, my friend was patient. We walked and talked. He would point out the various plants using common and latin names, and I would tell him stories about kin’s inner workings. Little by little, I would walk farther, climb higher, and started to get to know plants by name. 

It was empowering. 

Survival Training is Really Thriving Training

My guide became another collaborator in the many projects I am carrying out with the plant kingdom. It was his idea that we take survival training classes. He came at it from the angle, “Look at the chaos in the world, are we ready if s*#t hits the fan?” This made me think about what would happen to me if my comfort was to suddenly disappear. The more I focused on that fear, the harder I held on to that comfort. What makes me laugh now is that many of those comforts didn’t even feel very comfortable, but fear will make you think you really need what you really don’t.

In those reflections, I realized that base level fear drives people much more than we realize. Struggles around money, status, relationships, ecology… are all connected to that low-level fear that without “insert X”, you can’t survive. How can you ever flourish if you are spending all your energy on hording something tied to an unknown fear? 

It was then and there that I decided to take my first survival training course.

Addicted To The Co-Independence

The first course was such a success, we decided to do it again. This time, rather than going out with an experienced teacher, we would teach others what we learned. This way we could make sure we have mastered what we know before moving on to bigger adventures.

Again, impostor syndrome reared it’s head. I took one class, who was I to lead a group of people into the outdoors? There was no way I had anything to teach. Who was I fooling.

Every time I focused on this energy, two things happened:

  1. Mirrors appears showing me how I was bringing this fear into other areas of my life to wreak havoc and stop me from accomplishing my goals.
  2. And simultaneously, I received confirmation after confirmation from these same mirrors that I actually knew what I was talking about and should just get out there and teach it.

So along with the woods guide, we elicited the help of a safety expert, and set about to create a 24 hour survival experience!

Evolving Fears through Practical Mastery

Let me be honest, I am not an expert woodswoman by any means. Some of the people in our group had far more experience outdoors than I did. But there were some things I knew better. And most of all, I am an expert teacher and love to create an environment where individuals feel safe enough to use the talents and skills they’ve mastered across many lifetimes, but feel their own impostor syndrome when using.

So while I taught knot-making skills, helped build a water filter, and answered questions, with the whispers of my plant friends, I mastered a whole new set of outdoor skills. And in the process, brought home with me a tranquil confidence that is already influencing the way I navigate the relationships and situations in my life. 

They really should change the name of survival training to thriving training, because I am definitely flourishing because of it!

Are you experiencing imposter syndrome or other limiting belief that is holding you in fear? How would you like to see it evolve?

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