Are we setting ourselves up to fail by denying we are part of nature?

Are we setting ourselves up to fail by denying we are part of nature?

A new journal entry from Natural Change UK

Posted on 04.11.2019

We are part of nature. But we think and behave as if we are not. This denial of reality matters — to every one of us individually, and as a society.

A new journal / blog article from Osbert Lancaster, Natural Change UK

The majority of us spend most of our time indoors and in urban spaces dominated by buildings, vehicles and other human-made infrastructure. When we think about and discuss ‘nature’ it is as something other, somewhere else: often as a place to visit for recreation and relaxation or an ecosystem that we must manage to provide food, clean water, fresh air and other ‘services’.

Taking the long view, this is not normal. It is only very recently in our evolutionary history that we have come to deny, by the ways we live and think, that we are part of nature. This denial is making us physically and mentally ill, more self-centred and less accepting of others, and it’s diminishing our sense of meaning. It’s also setting us up to fail as we tackle climate change, ecological breakdown and other significant challenges. The good news is that we can change this.


  • Modern life isn’t normal and it’s making us physically and mentally ill
  • Stress and anxiety are overstimulating our ‘stone age’ bodies
  • Wild places shift our values so we feel in harmony with others and the rest of nature
  • Modernity’s success is a sign of cultural and technological failure
  • Thinking of nature as separate from us is a trap, setting us up to fail

To make real progress, we must shift not only our rational mindset but also emotionally feel, and psychologically believe, ourselves to be part of nature. This doesn’t mean ditching the methods and insights of science; they remain important. But we need to undertake and apply science within the ‘reclaimed’ world view, indeed the reality, that we are truly part of nature. Only this shift will let us act with humility and wisdom to find ways to thrive in harmony with the rest of nature.

Osbert Lancaster
Natural Change UK

The Natural Change approach has been developed over many years by ecopsychologist, outdoor educator and mountain leader David Key.  Natural Change Ltd is a collaboration of David and nine other skilled and experienced facilitators. Between us we have well over a century of experience of designing and delivering programmes for personal development and organisational change and of leading groups in wild places.





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