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My Epiphany in the Forest: Letting Go of What Ifs, Should Haves & Self Doubt

The forest floor crunched beneath my boots, each step a deliberate act of defiance. Defiance against the relentless inner chatter that had become my unwelcome companion.

Every decision, every interaction, a tangled web of "what ifs" and "should haves." Today, the forest was my refuge, a cathedral of towering redwoods and whispering pines promising a reprieve.

Sunlight dappled through the canopy, casting a mosaic of light and shadow on the moss-covered earth. A squirrel, a streak of brown fur, darted up a nearby tree, its bushy tail a question mark against the verdant backdrop.

Here, in this symphony of nature, the constant hum of self-doubt seemed to recede. But it wasn't gone. It lurked, a persistent shadow waiting for an opening.

"Did you wear the right hiking boots?" the voice hissed in my ear. "Those sandals might have been more comfortable. But then again, what if you need ankle support?"

I slammed my eyes shut, gritting my teeth. This. This internal monologue, this never-ending self-criticism, was the very reason I was here. Here, in the heart of nature, where creatures simply existed, thriving on pure instinct and unburdened by the shackles of overthinking.

A flash of blue and then gray caught my eye. A blue jay, its feathers a vibrant tapestry, landed on a nearby branch, its head cocked inquisitively. It let out a squawk, a sharp, clear sound, devoid of hesitation. It wasn't pondering the pros and cons of building a nest on that particular branch. It knew. It simply knew.

And that's when it hit me.

This relentless self-doubt, this second-guessing that had become my norm – it was a uniquely human affliction. These magnificent creatures surrounding me, the deer grazing serenely, the hawk perched on a high branch with laser-like focus – they all operated from a place of pure, unadulterated instinct. They saw their needs and fulfilled them. Hunger triggered hunting, fear sent them fleeing, joy manifested in exuberant chirps and playful chases.

We, however, with our self-proclaimed superior intellect, have somehow twisted that into a liability. We've built these elaborate mental labyrinths, weaving scenarios and analyzing possibilities until the path forward becomes a blurry mess of indecision. Maybe, just maybe, it was time we tore down these walls of self-doubt and learned to exist with a little less "should" and a lot more "be."

My gaze drifted to a fallen log, sunlight catching the vibrant green of a colony of moss. It wasn't agonizing over its existence, wondering if it should be a fern or a wildflower. It simply was. It thrived in its niche, fulfilling its silent purpose in the forest's ecosystem.

A deep breath filled my lungs, the crisp air clearing the cobwebs of doubt.

Perhaps it was time to apply this newfound perspective to my own life. Start with the small things. Acknowledge a compliment with a genuine smile, free of the mental gymnastics of dissecting its sincerity. Choose a restaurant for dinner based on craving, not a meticulously crafted spreadsheet of reviews.

Trust the impulse to reach out to a friend, to pursue a dream, to simply be present in the moment.

It wouldn't be easy. This constant questioning had become so ingrained, such a well-worn path in my mind. But as I looked around at the forest teeming with life, a resolute feeling settled in my core. These creatures were a testament to the power of unapologetic being.

They didn't overthink, they simply acted.

My eyes fell on a spider painstakingly weaving its web. Each strand, a testament to focused determination. It didn't waste time agonizing over the perfect web placement, the ideal fly trap design. It spun, it anchored, it patiently waited.

There's a beauty in simplicity, a quiet power in trusting the process. The more I observed the creatures around me, the more I realized that life wasn't meant to be lived in a perpetual state of "what if." It was about embracing the present, acting on instinct, and trusting that the path would unfold as it was meant to.

Of course, there would still be times of uncertainty, moments where doubt would try to creep back in. But instead of letting it consume me, I would remember this forest, this sanctuary of unapologetic existence. I would remember the blue jay's confident squawk, the spider's focused web, the deer's unwavering grace.

This wasn't about becoming a mindless automaton, devoid of reason. It was about finding a balance. It was about acknowledging our analytical nature, while also learning to trust our gut instincts, our primal desires. Maybe that's the key to unlocking our true potential, to existing with a blend of confident action and mindful reflection.

As I continued my hike, the forest floor no longer felt like a battlefield of self-doubt. It was a canvas of possibilities, a path waiting to be explored. 

The chirping symphony of birds wasn't background noise; it was a soundtrack of encouragement. With each step, I felt lighter, a newfound confidence blooming within me.

This wasn't a one-time epiphany. It was the start of a journey, a conscious effort to shed the layers of self-doubt and embrace the power of simply being. It wouldn't be a straight line. There would be stumbles, moments of questioning, and the ever-present voice of the inner critic. But with each encounter with nature, with each conscious choice to trust my instincts, the voice would grow fainter, replaced by the quiet hum of confidence.

The forest path eventually led me back to the familiar world, the symphony of birds replaced by the city's low rumble. 

But a piece of the forest has stayed with me, a whisper reminding me to breathe, to trust, and to exist with the unwavering certainty of a blue jay claiming its branch, a spider weaving its web, and a deer grazing in the dappled sunlight. The world needed less hesitant humans and more bold songbirds, and I, for one, was determined to sing my own unique melody.



So beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. I read "The Comfort Crisis" earlier this year and one of the things the author highlighted was how the human race has quadrupled audible noise on the planet (not even considering other types of "noise"). He also shared "the nature pyramid", a framework that diminishes the affects noise has on us, via stress. Pretty cool stuff. And so relevant to what you shared. There's not quite anything like what the great outdoors has to offer us in the way of wonder, awe and lessons.


Lovely. I feel ya. Inner chatter can get outta control. Breathe in forest balance peace. ♥


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