Sharing emotional impact

Trees send distress signals to each other through their roots. Through underground fungal networks called "mycorrhizae," they can perform incredible feats of care-taking: for example, elder trees use these networks to pump extra sugar into the roots of younger trees that are still too young to reach the light of the forest canopy. Our trouble as humans is that we often lack a good way of communicating our distress to each other in a way that awakens the willingness to care-take: vulnerability feels scary, like a sign of weakness. But when we skillfully signal our emotional state to others, it can soften their hard edges.

Offer the other person a window onto your emotional reality by sharing how their words or actions impact you at the level of your body, emotions, or thoughts.

  • "Hearing you, ___"I’m feeling some emotional impact. [I want to share that] I’m experiencing it as a tightness in my throat and my heart is pounding" (impact at the level of bodily sensations)
  • "I’m experiencing some sadness and fear (impact at the level of emotions)
  • "I’m having thoughts about whether I belong here"; "The thoughts that are coming up for me are…" (impact at the level of thinking)

This practice plants Seeds of spaciousness, slowing down the conversation so compassion can enter the room.