Last night, I was in a meeting where I someone told me directly that I do not communicate with plants. He does not perceive me as being sensitive enough or in-tune enough with nature to be able to have that level of connection.
I share this story because there was a time when his comments would have devastated me. Doubts, feelings of being a fraud, sadness at not being seen, embarrassment that I may not be who I think I am, etc. etc. would have plagued the rest of my day.
And if I am perfectly honest with you, at first his comments stung. You can’t help but doubt yourself in a situation like that. I wondered how I had just spent almost three years doing nature activities with this person, yet he could not see me for who I am. Was my connection all ego?
I retreated as the evening went on, turning into myself to understand my emotions. But rather than feeding the doubt, I nourished the curiosity:
- How did this person reach this conclusion?
- What criteria was he using to define “sensitive”?
- Was it really about me or was there something else?
So I listened….
For over an hour, I listened to him and the rest of the group talk about how today they must frequent a tree for a long time, and maybe, maybe if they are really still, get a sense that the plant knows they are there. Most of them have never had a reciprocal relationship with a plant. Over and over again, this person talked about how much he loves and appreciates nature in the mountains and out in the woods, but that he doesn’t receive anything directly from kin.
The more he spoke, the more I realized that his words were not about me…
They were about him.
For him, a connection to nature means sleeping in the woods and spending hours walking alone out in nature. He does not see the plants through the cracks in the sidewalk like I do. He does not appreciate how a digital connection can provide the confidence for you to have a wonderful conversation with a house plant. He believes you should doubt yourself until it is unequivocally proven otherwise.
As the evening wound to a close, I brought the topic up again. My questions held a desire to better understand his views in order to more deeply understand myself.
According to him, you need to spend years lost in the woods to commune with nature. To add to this, he assumed that since I am not as active a woods person as they are–which is true, I did not grow up in the mountains like most of them–I have never spent large amounts of time “out in nature”. Without the experience of sleeping outdoors constantly, for him, you cannot be one with nature.
He had assumed that since I do not talk of the outdoors in the same manner, I must not have a connection with plants.
He defines nature by what it is not.
City plants are not nature.
House plants are not nature.
The single tree you pass every day on your way to work is not nature.
Your food is not nature.
Your clothes are not nature.
Nature is always this big thing out there, never the little expressions all around us.
Plus, my ability to use the digital world so well, such as creating nature connection activities, meeting with 1:1 clients, and being a great facilitator and coordinator, further confirms my disconnect. One cannot be technological and animistic, in his eyes.
A connection to nature can not exist in or be nourished by the digital.
Why doubt yourself when I am not defined by his lens.
It is easy for you to take on another’s definition of you. We do it every day. In many cases we even start to modify and distort ourselves to fit into their molds.
But I know who I am. It is the plants that have encouraged me to give myself permission to BE, further strengthening our connection and expanding it beyond communication and into full-fledged co-creation.
Plants and I are co-creators.
Plants share insights during my 1:1 sessions.
Plants show me what my humaness misses.
Plants broaden my perceptions.
Plants are my friends.
Mirroring back the narrow box.
Once he had said everything he wanted to share, I gently held up a mirror so he could see the tiny box he had defined me in. Several of his assumptions about my experiences with plants that were flat out wrong, which I corrected. Beyond that, I helped him recognize for himself that he had imposed his lack of connection and fear of technology on to me, confirming that I would not be taking on anyone else’s self-judgment as my own.
His comments were never about me. He cannot perceive my connection any more than he can perceive his own. Until the wall he has created for himself from the many stereotypes and expectations comes crumbling down, I fear he will never be able to recognize that the plants have been speaking to him all along.
What were the lessons learned?
For me, this whole experience was enlightening, to say the least. The initial sting means there is still some lingering something or other to work through. And I do feel like a bit of a failure because in all these years I have not been able to help this person move the needle towards openness with himself and others. But the more I explore this, the more I realize that there are cultural and gender biases at play for me to reconcile. A good confirmation of evolutive work already in progress.
At the same time, I also recognize that his situation is not my needle to move. You can’t doubt yourself when it is another person’s path. Throughout the whole evening, the tree behind me kept whispering to me that I can only support those who consciously choose to evolve. He has taken a step and put a little crack in that wall. I only hope that he will find what he needs to keep moving forward.
What about you, do you still doubt yourself?
What did you get out of this story? Tell me in the comments or in the Naturally Conscious Community.
And if you are ready to expand your own experiences by giving yourself permission to be the person you know you are, I would love to be your mirror. All you have to do is ask.