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Let Nature Be Your Teacher ~ The Pitfalls of Goal Setting and the Guidance of Overwhelm

Feeling Overwhelmed

Right now, like many of you perhaps, I have what feels like an enormous to do list. As a home schooling Mum with aging parents, there are family needs to tend to as well everything that goes on in the background of running a business... meeting up with clients in one to ones or in the group sessions is the part I love most, but there is a lot that happens behind and underneath in preparation, maintenance, development and letting people know about what I offer. As a wellbeing practitioner, I have to admit that I can fall into the trap of thinking that I need to portray an image that I have it all covered, but in truth, I am a human being and states of overwhelm and confusion, do still present themselves. Just like today. However, the way I respond to overwhelm has shifted significantly over the years and today has been deeply rewarding as I delved into my experience to explore it through the lens of nature and The 3 Principles (an understanding I have been gradually learning about over the last couple of years).

The first thing I did this morning, when I rose with an unusually heavy sense of overwhelm and tiredness was to consider where I could make more space in the day. I cancelled non essential appointments and communicated with my family and friends who beautifully supported me to create the space I needed. I felt gratitude for all of this... for my ability to see that I needed space, for my ability to communicate it and for the support of my friends and family as I reshaped my day.

I laid down to sleep, knowing that I really needed rest, yet my mind was busy and not finding peace, sleep was not an option in this state. I could feel emotions of sadness rising in me and through the understanding of the 3 principles I considered the fact that my thinking was creating an experience of sadness. I simply noticed the fact that thinking about the number of things that I 'thought' I 'had' to do was creating a feeling of overwhelm within me and a deep sense of sadness was rising. Normally, when my head and thinking is driving overwhelm like this, I take a walk in nature and practice some of the nature connection activities that I know, to quieten my mind and awaken my senses. In doing this, new thought usually rises and the overwhelm disperses. Sometimes I reach for my flower essences to help me find my centre again too. This time however, I was curious about exploring this process through the lens of The 3 Principles.

Within The 3 Principles it is suggested that when we have an awareness of the way that our thinking is creating our experience, we have a choice over whether to pay attention or not. Whether to stay caught in the loop of our thinking, pursuing our thoughts down rabbit holes of deepening misery, or whether to simply just notice how our thinking is making us feel. With this in mind I made a conscious choice not to pay attention to the list of everything I thought I had to do and decided to focus on making something to eat instead. Not with the intention of forgetting and ignoring my to do list, but with the intention of allowing my thought process to settle, to create the space for a new thought to emerge.

Moving from Overwhelm to Flow

While eating, I revisited my to do list to feel into which task would bring me the greatest sense of ease in this moment. Literally everything engendered a sense of overwhelm as I stared at the list before my eyes. It was paralysing and exhausting just looking at it. So I closed my eyes and asked myself, "What would light me up right now? What is wanting to come from me in this moment that feels easeful and flowing? What is it that I need to do to bring me back to peace?" At this point it popped into my head in the style of that typical light bulb moment, that what I really wanted to do was write authentically about my experience of working through this state through the lens of nature's wisdom and The 3 Principles. This thought immediately lit me up, brought peace and felt good. So here I find myself, trying to express this experience as I explore and embody the understandings I have been learning about.

The Pitfalls of Goal Setting

As I sit down to put pen to paper, the first thing I realise is that I have constructed a whole world of things to do. I have placed goals and objectives out there in some distant place in time and now I have a list of tasks to complete in order to get there. I have created an outside/in situation and am no longer offering the space for emergence and authentic expression from what in this understanding is regarded as 'the higher mind', or what I prefer to express currently as 'nature's intelligence'. Some people may refer to this as spirit, the mystery, or perhaps God.

When we want to start a new project, or simply shift out of an old situation into a new one, we have been taught to set a vision in the future and then take appropriate steps in order to make it happen, to bring it into reality. On the surface this seems to make sense right? And certainly having vision and taking steps towards it, does offer us a sense of purpose, meaning and direction.

However, there are pitfalls to this goal setting approach to life and work too. Where this idea falls down is when we assume that the vision we are aiming for is fixed and that the steps we need to take towards it are, a) known and b) within our control. What may happen in these situations is any or all of the following:

  1. We become closed to the potential of a different vision that could be even better

  2. We become closed to new ways of being that have potential to create improved outcomes

  3. We become controlling of the situation as we grapple with trying to force a situation into our perceived way of doing things, in order to reach our imagined goal.

  4. We don't feel in flow as we try to motivate ourselves to complete the tasks we think we need to do in order to reach the goal we think we want to reach.

  5. We beat ourselves up mentally and emotionally for not feeling motivated, for feeling overwhelmed, for not achieving and for not being good enough.

  6. We reach the desired goal through all of the assigned tasks and yet feel unfulfilled or flat with the result and didn't even enjoy the process.

I realise that this is exactly the scenario I had fallen into (again) in terms of reaching people and communicating more about my work and what I do. I was operating from the outside/in rather than the inside/out. I was looking at some distant goal that I thought I needed to reach and was trying to implement all of the appropriate or typical steps to get there. I had created a scenario full of 'to do's' through my thinking.

What Can Nature Show Us?

As with all of my work and reflections these days, I took this pondering back to my trustee guide... nature herself. How does this understanding stack up in the container of nature?

My mind turns to the awesome display of starling murmurations. These beautiful displays of birds dancing in synchronised formations sweeping through the sky just happen, not because they all sit down, visualise it first and then take all of the actions needed to come together. They don't assign one teacher, go to class, learn all the moves and practice coming together. There is an innate act of genius within their movement. Nature's intelligence drives them to this and they instinctively follow, because nature's way is to thrive. Their true nature, without conscious thinking, will lead them into these awe inspiring displays for whatever reason... they simply follow the flow of life.

Likewise a flower doesn't start out as a seed, thinking of a vision of what it could become, then breaking the actions down into achievable tasks in order to get there... given the right conditions, it just grows, takes on nutrients, reaches, extends, opens and blossoms in the fullness of what it is, not what it thought it should be...

This is nature's way... it's an inside/out job.

We are not separate from nature we ARE nature, yet we have become so far removed from nature's principles and in doing so we are in danger of cutting ourselves off from our own thriving nature. The natural intelligence that runs through all of life, runs through us too... we just need to get our constructs out of the way and allow our true nature to flow...

The Guidance of Overwhelm

This exploration started with feelings of overwhelm. Within our culture, we can fall into the trap of believing that this is a sign of us not functioning very well. Yet through the lens of true holistic health, we can see, through this example, how our feelings are like sign posts. When we take time to see the feeling as a signal that our thinking is 'slightly' off and allow time for our thoughts to settle, a new thought has space to emerge. With this perspective our difficult feelings are signposting us back to our natural selves - they are not a sign that we are broken or dysfunctional, they are in essence, our health talking to us, guiding us to another, more soul nourishing and fulfilling way.

In this particular situation, what I naturally and authentically wanted to do has now led me to creating a blog post, that I will share in numerous ways. And it's perfect, because essentially, this is what the depth of my work is all about at the very core... about connecting with nature and in doing so, rediscovering our true nature, then aligning with nature's principles and embodying our understanding in our work and lives. Transforming the way we experience life so that we live from the inside/out in harmony with the natural world.

My next course starts next Saturday: The Art of Blossoming ~ Birthing the New, during which time we will be diving deeper into the journey of reclaiming our true nature. The focus of this journey will be all about growing from the inside/out, moving away from the paradigm of believing we will become fulfilled once we achieve or have something outside of ourselves in some distant goal, achievement or object and embodying the wisdom that we already have everything we need within ourselves. Learning to listen to and trust our wisdom, through nature connection, reflection, flower essences and meditation.

I also offer one to one mentoring in the Art of Blossoming, which is spread across 8 months, to allow enough time for you to integrate each stage of your blossoming journey. Each month involves an hour with me where I offer deep listening and transformational conversation. I also provide personalised nature connection invitations for you to work with in your spare time and provide a bespoke flower essence blend to support. It sits beautifully alongside the group Art of Blossoming Courses and offers a more personal experience where you have the opportunity to feel into your personal challenges as I hold space for you to blossom. Get in touch if you would like to explore this journey further.

There are some beautiful essences to help you to unravel the thinking that drives the experience of overwhelm and some easy natural mindfulness activities to help you to slow down and quieten the mind, so that you are open to new thinking. If you would like to book a one to one to focus specifically on coping with overwhelm, please do get in touch.

And now, with all that said, I am delighted to discover that I have actually managed to cross out about 4 things on my to do list as a by-product of following my flow...

How do you manage overwhelm and how does this idea of inside/out land with you?


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