If you’ve ever stood on a clifftop gazing out to the ocean, you’ll know that the wide open seascape can trigger some strong feelings within us, and about us too.
You don’t have to be experiencing social anxiety to feel your sense of power and importance ebbing and flowing throughout your life. But for those of us that do feel socially anxious, well, we’re starting at rock bottom on the scale of personal power. So staring out at the big blue with a sense of what’s beneath and beyond can easily amplify our feeling of being small and insignificant, and even powerless in the world. After all, we are but a tiny speck on this beautiful blue planet we call home. So you might wonder, do I really matter?
You are nature
Well, we think so. It’s all a matter of perspective. You’re not so separate from nature after all. Indeed, you are 60% water yourself. The ocean runs through your body. Even more than that, the elements your body is made from were formed in stars over the course of billions of years and multiple star lifetimes.
The very fact that you exist is awe-inspiring. Magical even. And yet even as you recognise the value and significance of nature, you doubt your own worthiness. How can your own personal worth be in doubt when you ARE nature?
When we feel small and insignificant, it speaks to a disconnect that we have from nature -from ourselves. An indication that we’re spending far too much time in our heads. Thinking ourselves into a position of powerlessness. Comparing ourselves to others and seeing ourselves as different. Focusing in on what we see as our flaws and overlooking our strengths and all that we can do.
For example, it can be easy to feel powerless observing the tide of beach litter; helpless at the sight of an entangled seal; or paralysed against climate change. Wondering what difference you can possibly make can lead to taking no action at all.
The truth is that your actions matter. Because of the ripple effect your choices have in the world, yes. But also because your sense of personal power and significance relies on you taking action.
You may be a tiny dot on Earth, but you are here. You exist alongside many other tiny dots on our planet. And that means that you can make a difference -in a way that suits you. You might be someone who is very organised and can help with running a large scale beach clean preventing litter being washed out to sea. Or you might be more drawn to quieter individual efforts. Simply picking up pieces of discarded net while walking on the beach can prevent wildlife from becoming entangled in that net, making a difference to the life of a marine mammal, or bird, or turtle with one quick action. You might choose to change your shopping habits to reduce your plastic use, or you might train as a marine mammal medic to physically help injured wildlife.
The more you actively choose to consider your impact and seek out ways to help, the more you increase your sense of personal power. Whatever your preference, it’s important to remember that you have a choice to contribute to the wellbeing of your community and planet in some way. There are always small, quiet ways that you can make a difference so embrace what resonates with you. And while you’re busy, take a moment to reflect on how many tiny ‘dots’ are also doing their bit to help at the exact same time, making you part of something bigger than you in that single moment.
But what if spiralling negative thoughts are getting in the way of you stepping into your own personal power? Then it’s time to hit the pause button – if only your brain had one, right?! Well, spending time with your lungs has the same effect. You can quiet your mind by noticing your breath. Placing your attention on the air entering and leaving your body and the sound and rhythm of your breath shifts your focus from your head to your body – which is good!
Helpfully, blue spaces naturally have a calming, meditative effect on our bodies (known as ‘blue mind’). So when we allow ourselves the time to be in the moment -taking in the view, the light, the natural sounds and smells, the sensations of air, temperature or water droplets on your skin- we give ourselves a break, creating space for new thoughts and possibilities to occur to you. This practice of connecting to your body can help you train your brain away from the cycle of negative thought, even if unhelpful thinking is a habit you’ve kept up for a while, and it’s even more grounding when you immerse yourself in nature at the same time.
Ultimately, there’s no real reason to feel powerless and insignificant in life. Those feelings come from untruths picked up over the years that do not align with the wisdom of mother nature. You are as valuable as the ocean, trees and stars. You have the power to make a difference in small, comfortable ways. Perhaps not in the same way as the person before you, but in your way.
Living an empowered life is a choice. Take action.