Funny, that word changes. In the forum they teach us to differentiate between changes and transformations. Change is something gradual that you must apply will power and constant attention to to make it happen. Transformation is instant, more like an immediate shift that sends you in a new direction. These are the more powerful mechanisms for making significant differences in our lives and I have seen this in several areas of my life and now finally with my health.
I first saw this in action when I quit smoking. We had heard of this book (The Easy Way to Stop Smoking) that supposedly could help you quit smoking with little effort or withdrawals. Now, I had been a smoker for over 15 years and had quit and started countless times. My problem was that I liked smoking, no I loved smoking. But, I hated being a smoker. There is a very distinct difference there that I think most smokers can relate to.
So, we had heard stories of several people who had read this book and then simply stopped smoking forever. At this point what did I have to lose, so I gave it a try. Basically the book tells it like it is, separating you from your addiction and helping you to see how it is standing in the way and certainly not serving in any way at all. But the funny thing is that it is really more about the act of reading the book than even what the book says. At the end they have this list of questions and if you can answer yes to any of them you need to start the book over. It took reading the book twice to get through the list, but then I put down the cigarettes and haven’t had another since and it wasn’t even hard, like at all. My best friend even looked at me the other night and said she can no longer even imagine me as a smoker. Amazing.
Do you need to quit? Get the Book!
The point is that it was my first introduction to the instant transformation I am talking about. It wasn’t hard to quit like it had been the many other times I had tried. It was like something shifted and I just didn’t need it any more. Quite the transformation.
Back when I was depressed and having regular debilitating panic attacks my therapist would tell me to differentiate and identify the depression and anxiety as separate from myself. “That’s the depression talking”. It was amazing how quickly I started to feel better once I started doing this. I kept telling myself that it was just anxiety and depression and that what it was saying was not true and that I could keep going even though I thought my heart would explode out of my chest and it eventually just disappeared. In the moment that I realized that I wasn’t the awful person my depression told me I was, it just dissipated and I started feeling better and soon I was better.
At The Forum I learned to separate my stories from my actual experiences and found forgiveness and peace with my past.
Do you see a pattern here?
Well now it has reached my battle with my weight. I was noticing last week that my whole outlook was starting to change. But this didn’t happen slowly over time with a lot of will power. Yes, I have been thinking a lot about it and have made some changes to my diet and have obviously been working on the emotional aspects, but I was feeling really frustrated that it didn’t seem how much I worked at it, I still wanted to the sweets and junk food and couldn’t keep myself from eating it. And I still had no desire to work out at all.
I hit my peak of frustration as I scarfed down a brownie on the way to therapy last Monday. Two bites and I was feeling nauseous, yet I still ate the whole damn thing. What is going on?
So I was talking to my therapist about it and she taught me how to differentiate this as well. There is was again. She recommended stopping when I felt these cravings and looking at them from another angle, identifying the intensity of the craving by giving it a number 1-10. Then if you decide the number is high enough and eat the craved food, then identify how much satisfaction you got from eating it by giving it a number 1-10.
During this therapy session, something just clicked and since then I have been following her advice, which has unfortunately taken the joy out of several sweat treats I was really looking forward to, and yet again transformation has happened. Not perfection or magical weight loss, but a totally different outlook that seemed like it came out of nowhere.
I have been almost jonesing for exercise and food has lost its power over me. I am even down to just one Diet Coke a day, a miracle in and of itself.
It is just a craving and separate from myself. That craving has nothing to do with my body’s need for sustenance or nutrition or even something yummy to eat — it is emotional and completely separate.
I think this is part of the message the Jon Gabriel is trying to convey to us. Just give your body what it needs and realize that you are emotionally separate from your need to eat and your body will start asking for what it needs and giving back what you want from it.
The real test will be how this plays out over the next couple of months. Please let the weight loss finally come. I create this possibility for myself and for all of you too.
I saw some amazing things. I watched men open up and accept their vulnerabilities even though they were completely closed off when they arrived and women face their fears and insecurities head on with bravery and grace. I have never been part of something so intimate with a group of 130 people, all of whom supported and surrounded each other with love through a very trying couple of days.
I went to the Landmark Forum really unsure of what it was I was supposed to gain from it. A lot of people go to have breakthroughs in their relationships with parents, children, friends and/or spouses or with their health or business. I needed all of those things and so didn’t enter with a specific goal in mind. I just knew that my life wasn’t working the way it was and after seeing the change in a friend of mine who recently went through it, I knew I wanted some of whatever he was taking.
What I ended up learning is that all those areas of my life that needed changing were all tied up in the same underlying issues. I needed to take responsibility for my own life. I had blamed my parents for everything bad that had ever happened to me and even for my persistent unhappiness. This impacted every area of my life and held me back from getting anything done. I learned to differentiate between the actual events that happened and my interpretations and stories that I built up in my head as a result.
It’s not that bad things didn’t happen, they did. But my parents were just doing the best they could with what they had to work with. They had their own shit to deal with and their own demons haunting them. But, the feelings of not being worthy and not being good enough were completely separate and only the stories that I had created. This realization alone lifted 10 tons off me. I didn’t have to let my stories control me any longer.
This was a lot easier said than done for me. Let me just say before I go any further that I had a certain type of experience and everyone else there had their own experience. Please don’t be scared off by the following information. I am an extreme case, not everyone had the issues to deal with that I did or the built up emotions to clear. Each experience is as different as the individual.
OK, here we go. I started crying Friday morning and didn’t stop until late Saturday afternoon. I kept apologizing and laughing with the people around me because I couldn’t get the tears to stop, they just ran in a steady stream down my face no matter what I did. I would get a small break and then she would mention the word empowerment or opportunity and there they would go again. I never dreamed it would be so difficult for me to grasp onto the possibility that I deserved to be a powerful person with unlimited possibilities. My mind and body fought this process tooth and nail, yet I persevered.
But after speaking with my Mom on Saturday afternoon, I got up and shared this very powerful conversation with the group. I was almost giddy and no longer crying. By taking responsibility for my own life and releasing the anger and resentment, I had cleared up a ton of space in my life that was formerly filled with nothing but garbage.
I even came home with the full intention of calling my dad, who I haven’t spoken to in 17 years. A lot of work finally got me to a point that I have forgiven him and realize that his actions can no longer have any impact on my life. I even think I might want to have some sort of relationship with him, if that is possible.
So I woke up Sunday morning and got sick three times, then I dialed the phone with the full intention of speaking to him when he picked up the phone. I was going to tell him that I am doing great and that I accept him for who he is and forgive him. I was also going to take responsibility for the fact that I made some decisions I am not that proud of and didn’t treat my parents very well, but that all that is in the past I am hoping that we can start over and get to know each other.
Unfortunately, the phone was disconnected. God, I was pissed. All these years and all this pain and I finally get to this point in my life and he wasn’t there. I didn’t need to puke any more, but was I mad. I marched in there and got up and told what had happened. Our leader Angie did an amazing job of bringing me down and reminding me that what happened was the phone was disconnected and that was it. ” He wasn’t there” and “I have spent so much of my life wasting time getting to this moment” was all my stories.
For all I know, he got a cell phone or didn’t pay his phone bill. I really don’t know anything about his situation, but I do know that I called and intended to talk to him and that means that I am officially “in the game” and she congratulated me on that. She also mentioned that I needed to stop holding all my emotional stuff in my physical body and that I might be amazed what physical problems I have disappear now. Hmm, haven’t I heard that somewhere before?
That was when it happened for me, my transformation. I have spent my entire life completely wrapped up in my stories. So much so that they appeared to be all there was. I was terrified if I even let up for a second that I would just crumble into little pieces on the floor and there would be nothing left of me. But that was just another story, I am better than ever and still me, just a little more emotionally light.
When I got home on Sunday night, I was bigger than life. I almost felt high, ready to conquer the world. Just sitting with my husband caused him to panic a little. It was just me with him, fully myself and present and that is surely something he is not used and maybe has never even seen with me.
At the Landmark Forum, I created the possibility for my self and my life of being whole and present and responsible for my life and my actions. In doing so, things started happening right away. At dinner on Sunday night with my cohorts at the Forum, I was fully present and confident when speaking about my business, free of thoughts of not being good enough or worthy of success, and almost everyone at the table asked me for my information (definitely time to order business cards). On the way home that night, I was telling the young woman I drove home about the experience and she jumped in with the information that her boss needed some advice on his website. The following day, I responded to two inquiries for small websites and received an email from a designer friend of mine asking if I wanted to work on a project with her.
Even if none of these interactions turns into anything my outlook on my business has changed completely, and this wasn’t even something I was looking for out of attending this workshop. I know now that I have something good to offer and that a potential client choosing to do business somewhere else doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It just means they decided to go with somebody else. I just have to put myself out there and be present and genuine in the moment. And of course build kick ass websites.
This week I have been with my children fully and openly, I think for the first time ever. I was so concerned with my own stuff that I don’t really think that I could be present to their lives. I realized that they are not extensions or reflections of me or my parenting. They are their own little beings and my job isn’t to mold them to force them to be a certain way, but to be with them and stand up for them and be present, I mean really present to their unfolding and growth. This is a pretty powerful thing and has changed the way I will interact with my children forever. The whole first day, Ada kept looking at me like an alien had taken over her mother. The second day, she just hugged me and hugged me and hugged me. The tears come just thinking about it.
Now, a week later, life has returned to somewhat normal and I sit comfortably in this warm pool of uncertainty, something that would have thrown me into a panic attack just a week ago. Clearing up all this garbage from the past leaves a lot of clarity and even more empty space, something a little unnerving at first. What happens next is yet to be seen, but I look forward to tomorrow and for now that is enough.
With all that said, there were a few things about the Landmark Forum that bothered me a bit. They get really into selling your friends on the forum. They do this in a fashion that makes you think that this is not what they are doing, but they are. I think that the final night would have been a lot more meaningful and even a more powerful sales tool if they had concentrated more on what people got out of it and less on why your guests should sign up for it.
I knew this was coming, although it was more than I even thought it would be, and prepped my guests for it. One of the issues I had was that I never asked for help or support and therefore made it virtually impossible for anyone to feel like they could support me in a meaningful way. So, it was important for me to ask for my mom and friends to be there for me and for me it was nothing more than that. Of course, I feel that they may get something out of taking the workshop, but they are grown ups and fully capable to discerning that for themselves.
I have read a lot of “cult” comments on the internet and people saying it was fun, but not life changing and people put off by the enthusiasm of the staff, but I too am a grown up and capable of thinking for myself and making my own decisions and my advice would be like with most things in life, you take what you need and leave what you don’t. Like I mentioned at the beginning, there were all kinds of people there from high school students to stay at home moms, from teachers to CEOs, everyone there for there own reasons and getting only what they got from it.
I found it really interesting that a lot of the concepts were similar to ideas I have been getting from all different directions. Lately it seems that everywhere I look, even in completely unrelated places, the same information is coming to me. For me that means that I should be listening.
My experience was very intense and extremely rewarding. I have a new outlook on life and a whole lot less crap to carry around with me. All in all a good thing and I am looking forward to the advanced course in October.
What’s funny is that it isn’t about having to confront emotions or dig deep into myself. That I am pretty comfortable with.
It is more like the first day of a new quarter at college when you worry if you are going to find your classroom or get lost and walk in ten minutes late and worrying if the professor is going to think your an idiot.
I guess that being a little nervous is normal and just as I wrote that, being afraid people are going to think I’m an idiot is one of the reasons I am doing this in the first place.
I am excited. This is going to be good.
I will not be online for the next couple of days, but I will have my phone and you might find me atwitter about something or other.
Have a great weekend everyone!