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How the shifting landscapes of nature taught me to manage my darkest fear

There will always be times in life where we need to let go of something that we considered important to us. Our founder, Fiona shares her experiences and what she has learnt from nature about letting go.

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Fear of letting go - Fiona Stimson in nature arms raised letting go

Once one of my esteemed colleagues said to me in a coaching session… how about you let go to let come…?

Over the years I have returned to this statement time and time again, when something felt difficult, overwhelming or challenging for me.

There will always be times in life where we need to let go of something that we considered important to us. It might be a friend that no longer aligns with us, a partner, a job, or health issues.

It maybe you are grieving something or someone, it is generally linked to an element of the past and what makes us who we are today.

Learning from nature to let go

Increasingly over the years I have found myself asking what I can learn from nature about letting go.

It’s easy for us to get caught up in a tangled web of emotions, that can feel huge and unapproachable. The temptation might be to just ‘ignore’ or ‘lock them away’. This may allow the change to happen, but they are still lurking there in the background, not dealt with and will pop up when you least expect or don’t want them to.

Noticing how mother nature has her cycles can help support us. With each cycle, changes occur naturally, whether they be deemed good or bad.

An event happens, life continues and sometimes in the most challenging circumstances.

How often do you see trees that have been hit by lighting or have blown down in a storm? Amazingly, they are still able to grow, regenerate and flourish.

If we allow, nature is good at being the container that is big enough to help hold and manage our emotions. It soothes, it comforts, it’s dependable and it can rejuvenate and fill us up once more.

How I let nature guide my emotional processing

Now when I get the thoughts and associated feelings of something bothering me, I bring awareness to it rather than pushing it away.
I know after many years of inner work, that facing what is going on for me, no matter how bad it is, will bring me peace and calm in that moment. This enables me to move forward with gentleness.

My practice is always gentle, nothing is forced, and I will meet those huge and sometime scary emotions for a defined amount of time so as not to overwhelm myself.

It is helpful to be able to walk it through, so I take myself off somewhere quiet, often outside or somewhere with a view of the trees/sky and after a few slow calming breaths, grounding myself.

I feel my feet firmly on the floor and notice my body standing tall. I create visualisations and imagery within and/or around my body whatever comes to mind, based on those emotions.

I notice my thoughts and feelings, without judgement. Any stories that I have associated with them are floating around me in clouds. I acknowledge and welcome them and that they are present. I don’t allow the stories to attach themselves, I simply let them be. I meet them where they are, even if they feel hard and scary.

The practice allows you to process the emotions, bit by bit, and enables change in how they are perceived. Often, I notice that I can feel whatever it is I am feeling somewhere specific in my body and if so, I ask it what it needs.

How nature can inform our grief

During the stages of grief, it is helpful to be able to meet our emotions in order to help us gradually move through.

My experience of this came when my beautiful nine-year-old niece suddenly passed away. The shock and sadness were immense. Nothing prepares you for something like that, I have never experienced anything like it and found it hard to cope with my feelings.

After the initial event and helping my sister to manage the more practical, immediate aspects, my body decided that enough was enough and I found myself in freeze mode. Many days and weeks went by where I was almost completely immobile, everything felt like lead. I felt numb and then there would be cyclical episodes where I would cry and let it out, then all would go quiet again.

There was one thing that I was utterly terrified of, which was going to her funeral. It felt completely overwhelming. I felt like there was a tidal wave of emotions getting ready to swallow and consume me. My pain felt huge, and it felt so different to anything I have experienced in my life, so unknown, so scary and it was so tremendously painful.

It felt like my chest had a ton weight placed on it and it was gradually being squeezed from within, I was terrified of it, keeping it at arm’s length so I wouldn’t have to deal with it, as I felt it would be uncontrollable if released, and once it was out, I would be a complete mess.

So, what was the real fear behind the awaiting tsunami?

It was seeing her little pink coffin. It was letting her and my sister down with my outpouring of grief. I wanted to be ok to support my sister and to celebrate my niece’s life. I was placing a huge pressure on myself to be ok. When actually I needed to allow myself to not be ok. Acknowledging this, was a relief in itself.

I allowed myself to honour my grief. I recognised I didn’t need to do this alone and reached for help and support. Turning to one of my colleagues, I summoned my courage, and we had a coaching session to acknowledge and process what I was feeling.

Fiona Stimson walking in nature with flowers
Nature changes and so can your feelings

I likened ‘the feeling’ to a huge volcano, spitting lava all-over, hissing and dangerous, unpredictable and immovable.

Through the session, I was able to change it, the volcano was still there, however, now a beautiful wildflower meadow had emerged. It was able to grow due to the richness of the landscape, it was what I would have wanted for my niece.

The flowers, softly bobbing in the light breeze, represented her softness, her spirit and beautiful self.

The fear moved from a hissing, spitting, overwhelming monster to a gentle, kind beautiful meadow. It had longevity and was comforting and sustaining.

It helped me to change my focus and perception around the original fear, allowing me to attend her funeral in the way I wanted to. Celebrating her and all she was, in a way that felt congruent and more comfortable for me.

What you can take from this

So, when fear or loss is gripping us, know that we can find ways to let go of what doesn’t serve us and, in the process, transform our experiences.

I often reflect on this and how everything is always changing and momentary in life.
It has helped me to move forward and walk with my grief over the last year, such that I am now able to share this with you.

I hope that it may be of comfort and support to those of you that may be experiencing similar losses.

Go gently, with love and compassion.

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