“Today, I will show you at least 4 common plants that are highly poisonous”.
“This mushroom, if eaten, has an 80% mortality rate. You’d be ill for 12 hours, get better for 2 days so less likely to seek help, and then you’d die.”
“This plant, if eaten, paralyses you so that you suffocate while you’re still awake”.
These were just some of the sentences I heard from our guide, Elliot, whilst out foraging on Saturday.
It was one of the activities I had booked at the Wilderness Festival, and I had been looking forward to it for so long! I wanted to know how to forage for free, natural food in the wilderness. I learnt so much! Nature has an abundance of delicious and natural food which is so much more abundant than I realised.
But there are a range of poisonous plants too, and some of them look almost identical to the non-poisonous varieties ( for example, cow parsley and hogweed are all part of the carrot family, but look very similar to hemlock and giant hogweed, which are very poisonous).
So we were given the requisite warnings – Nature, although abundant, can also be dangerous.
(I have to admit, I found this exciting)!
But we were also told that with the right guidance, and armed with the right knowledge, we would be able to navigate our way around the different plant varieties and make the right choices – not just the ability to avoid poisonous and dangerous plants, or to identify those plants with medicinal qualities that had first aid properties – but to be able to pick and choose the ones that tasted the most delicious too.
I think of relationships in a similar way. I think of them as a lifelong journey that we take with our partners, into the wilderness. And that can be a scary prospect. There are all sorts of hidden traps, dangers and fears deep in the woods. When I see couples, quite often they are afraid of stepping out into the wilderness of their relationship for these very reasons. Some couples don’t feel equipped or armed with the right knowledge or skill set.
Only recently I saw a couple who were deeply loving and respectful of each other, despite having gone through so much adversity together in such a short space of time. They had wondered into the wilderness together and become lost, wounded and disorientated. They were fearful of saying how they really felt to each other, in case they hurt each other’s feelings. As a result, they were avoiding conflict at all costs.
When I explained to them that conflict is an inevitable, natural process, but that it was possible to express feelings and discuss issues with empathy and compassion, without things becoming adversarial, they were relieved.
I taught them the communication skills and the techniques they needed in order to overcome their fears. In essence, I gave them the map, compass and handbook they needed to find their way through the wilderness together, and into a more open space.
And once the issue of conflict had been dealt with, I showed them how to focus on all the positives in their relationship and build on their strengths. The equivalent of showing them that they could choose the berries and plants that tasted amazing – not just the ones that tasted “ok” or had medicinal qualities to patch them up when needed.
We gathered all the plants together that we found and made food and cocktails with them afterwards in our pop-up kitchen in the woods – hogweed, meadowsweet, mint, blackberries, mushrooms, wild parsnip, wild garlic. The chefs prepared the most amazing canapes from these ingredients, together with venison which had been hunted only 500 metres away on the estate that morning. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever eaten, and it all came from the Natural environment around us! Nature had given us the most amazing bounty, and it was my favourite experience of the whole festival.
Had I been put off by the warnings at the beginning of the course, I would have missed out on all of it. Things I would have said to myself would have gone like this:-
“What if I get it wrong? The consequences could be huge!”
Couples often tell me they feel like this about managing conflict in their relationships. But by avoiding conflict for fear of getting it wrong, they miss out on all of the growth and transformation that comes with healthy conflict resolution.
During our foraging experience, we had an experienced guide to help us, and that was essential.
In that sense, your relationship is no different.
If you would like a guide for your relationship journey, then I am here for you.
Call on me and let me know what guidance you need!
Recognising and understanding conflict cycles and relationship patterns that lead to feelings of being lost and unsure are key components to my brand new course – Compassionate Conflict for Couples. If you would like my expert support to learn the EXACT techniques and steps to resolve conflict effectively without hurt, anger and frustration, you can now sign up! At just £99 it is incredible value for at least 8 hours of coaching, taking place over 4 weeks in the comfort of your own home, through videos, exercises and worksheets. And as an extra special gift for signing up, the first 10 people will receive a bonus 1:1 coaching call with me, absolutely FREE! These places will go fast and are strictly on a first-come, first-served basis so sign up NOW to avoid disappointment.
Until then, think of your relationship as a beautiful garden, which needs constant maintenance and attention to enable it to thrive!