This is a serie of blog post about a self-development training I attended in the Netherlands in December. The training is called Choice and provided by the Olde Vetche Foundations. The training had 5 days, the blog posts will include Day 0 (travel mostly) and all the training days; as well as a summary of the main highlight to close up the serie.

Day 4 is the peak of my fears and my games for this week of Choice training. The last time I was in such an emotional and mind state is back when I was a teenager.

After Day 3, I nearly went to bed directly. I believe I grab some food while everyone was talking about the previous 8 hours long process then I went upstairs to sleep. I was quite upset and isolating at that stage. Right after the process I felt even anger, which is quite rare. I was victimizing at that stage, wanting to blame the trainer for giving me a fake breakthrough. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t feel anything in such a moment?

Without being aware of it too much, I was clearly isolating just before going to bed and I woke up in a very similar state the next. Usually it is at that stage that it starts to involve others, I isolate so much and look upset and sad so there will be someone around me who will come to me and ask if everything is okay.

Just dance!

 The day started slowly, with some songs and some dancing. Just dancing!

One thing I noticed the day before is that usually after an “heavy” process, we have some breathing exercises or dancing. Some a lot lighter, that allow us to get the energy, stress out or just change our minds. Looking at the previous day, dancing made sense at least!

It started slowly but it didn’t took long for everyone to go crazy and dance madly! If you know me, you may know that dancing isn’t something I’m comfortable with too. I never really was, even if I went out to clubs a lot in my young 20’s.  I always fell like I don’t know how to dance, that I look stupid. I don’t give myself into it, I usually look around, follow other’s people rythme and try to be in tune with the group movement. If people jump, I will likely jump and don’t count on me to be the one to initiate it. I have a huge respect for people that can just dance freely, just do whatever they like and whatever they feel and we had definitely a good bunch of these in this Choice training!

Most of us ended up in sweat and out of breath after the few songs we had to give you an idea on the intensity!

Who said Open Sharing?!

This round of Open sharing started to be extremely interesting. With the progress we all made, the new understanding we had and how we experienced breakthroughs the day before, people share for longer and the trainer was very supportive. We witnessed very touching revelations, even a 1 or 2 breakthroughs if I recall properly.

I believe my buddy had another one that day, around her issues with her father. To help her resolve that, I had to play the role of the father. It is a process that is called Family Constellations. It is a bit weird to witness the first time, my first experience with it was with my Wife and I fought it quite a lot so I couldn’t make anything out of it. Family Constellations, to my knowledge, is used to help people resolve issues on their side. I impersonated by buddy’s father, so she could resolved the issue she wanted with him, in a safe environment. This is opening space for Love for her, resolving conflicts that were there for many many years and it is also opening up an possible healthy relationship with her father in the coming years. Family Constellations is just a first step, a crucial one as without this step, people may never want to repair a broken or hurtful relationship.

On that day, I took extensive note about the Open Sharing.

The first notes I have is one of the person I was the closest to.

“(She is) Stuck in “Want to be””

“It is within yourself”

“Let it be”

I could relate to her quite a bit, I feel stuck in want to be too. One of the common sentence from the trainer at that stage was:

“Emotions/Feelings come and go”

This simple statement is crucial to understand and I wish I would have been explained clearer! Let me go back to a quote I used a few times, from Stephen R. Covey (writer of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People that I covered in 2 blog posts: Part 1; Part 2):

“Love is a verb. Love – the feeling – is a fruit of love, the verb. So love her. Serve. Sacrifice. Listen to her. Emphatize. Appreciate. Affirm her. Are you willing to do that?

For context, he says that to someone who is saying that Love isn’t there anymore between his wife and him. This is quote is exactly why the trainer kept saying that emotions and feelings come and go. The next sentence the trainer was asking what which concrete actions would we do! 

While she was sharing I wrote the following to myself:

I need to stop playing my games! Sonja doesn’t care about the opinions of the trainers. I need to let that go. I need to stop to wait and hope as well.

I already made many choices. One is that I love Sonja and I keep doing that choice.

As mentioned in Day 3, even if I was away from my future Wife and we couldn’t interact much, at many opportunities it made me feel closer to her. It happened with the next speaker too.

It was again about the Day 3 dude about his mother. I spent the whole time he shared very close to cry and I couldn’t still understand why. I believe he stood up and shared for a good 20 minutes, possibly 30. Which reinforced the feeling that I have a mother issue deep somewhere that I am not aware of it yet.

I took some further note for myself:


I need to let go of mental masturbation (meaning in that context: do more actions and over-think less)

  I need to let the pain in
   I need to stay with it
    I need to let it overwhelm me 
     I need to let go on control

And:

I want time with you
 I want to feel you

 

 

One of the assumption I went in Choice in is that I cannot connect fully to my emotions. When things touches me or when I am sad, I am very close to cry but I don’t cry. I need let to feeling touch me enough, I don’t let the pain in enough. At a few occasions, I’ve been afraid of the next time I would cry and the fear came from a lost of control. I’m in general afraid to lose control on myself so I tend to control myself as much as I can. I am not afraid of crying, I don’t believe in this “manly thinking” that men don’t cry for example. I would be happy to cry. So this first part simply meant that next time I feel in pain, I need to stay with it and let it in. I want to do that with Love too. The deeper I will let these go, the more I will be able to give back in return.

The second part was simply that as part of isolating, I felt lonely so I started to really miss my partner.

One last interesting note I took was:

How I do start doing things for myself now?

I guess the answer is just do it.

Overall Open Sharing sessions have been amazing opportunities to see how we are similar, to connect to other and to reflect on myself. I could identify to many more things that I share in this blog. I could feel so much emotions based on other people’s stories and lives. It was very powerful moments that I hope I will find other opportunities to have in my life!

Giving or taking? Who are you?

The next process is simple but yet powerful, it is around energy. Do you give energy to other people? Do you take it from them?

At that time of the training, after isolating and playing my games so hard, I thought I will be a taker. I was mostly in a black and white thinking space and I thought people would see it this way.

I forgotten that we had days of exchanges, give hard feedback to each other, we went through many processes or did all kind of activities together.

I ended up mostly a giver. It was interesting to see for who I was or wasn’t. Putting in perspective my understanding of each dynamics I had with all individuals compared to reality. Some people I had even little ideas that I gave them something, I didn’t know why yet but I can ask if I wanted to or try to understand.

The little positive mood that this process created didn’t lasted for long though.

Announcing the next process

This announcement was like a bomb to me. It looked to be the most challenging process. We didn’t had all the details just yet, but we knew enough to scare me truly. I closed up and didn’t really know how I would handle that.

There are situations that I mostly avoided and try to make them as conformable as possible in my life. And this process is about doing both of these at once: dancing and singing.

Most people looked pumped and excited and I may not have noticed the other ones that were scared like me. But I wasn’t looking forward.

I described how I feel when I dance at the beginning of this blog, there is a lot of shame to it. Singing is probably even worst, I never did Karaoké and last time I sung in front of people was probably when I was 15 years old and forced to do so in school. I am afraid to look silly, I am afraid not to perform well enough and I just avoid it, my life is partially built around not have to do these often or at all.

We had 2 hours break to prepare ourselves for that performance.

The Break

 The good point here is that I quickly understood that preparing was pointless. The performance wasn’t what it looked like and how they framed it, it felt pretty obvious but I could have been totally wrong (I wasn’t this time at least!).

The counter part is that my understanding of the performance was even scarier. While everyone was running around, listening to music and dancing, making themselves look like rock stars or pop stars I was in my corner nearly crying and feeling overwhelmed with fear.

That was the tipping point of my isolating and looking sad game. I started to talk to my partner online, involving here in my game too. I felt I couldn’t do what is going to happen so I wanted other people’s help. My partner did the training before so maybe if I looked desperate enough, she might tell me what the process is about so I can be re-assured and it will just push me to run away.

She quickly saw I was out of reach, she was herself in Paris, discovering the city for the first time and taking a few days of holidays here to visit. As we live in Ireland, she had no data, so she had to find a wifi spot for me and spend the next hour in the middle of her tourist day talking to me.

One of the strength we developed between each other is that we tell the other when we play games. Not always right away, I probably played her for a good 20 minutes out of the hour. We reached out a situation where she didn’t what to do to help me quite quickly, I was pushing back everything she said and everything we know is working usually. In these moments, we use a few questions to help us get out of the hole we are in:

  1. What is the worst that can happen?
  2. Will it matter in 1 day? 3 months? 5 years?

I asked these questions myself a dozens of time before reaching out to her and I didn’t even wanted to think about the answers as it isn’t what I wanted to hear so even when she asked them, it was powerless over me this time around. I perfectly new that nothing bad could happen, I told myself it a few times. I could look silly for a while and that’s it. For the second question, it wouldn’t even matter 5 minutes after the performance. Also the next day was the last day of the training, so whatever happen here, after tomorrow, doesn’t matter. I most likely won’t see the people I was with ever so how could it matter what happened? How could I be so scared to look like a fool? Even with all that logical things in my head, it didn’t helped a bit.

So after that happened, I told her the game I play, I told her what I was trying to get out of her and how. We kept talking on how to resolve the issue, how can see help me and support me in this moment. The fact that talking to her and sharing what I was doing, dragged me out of it. I felt quite calm after a while, I felt I could do it. I would just have to give 100% for a bit, like I did the other days and it can be okay. I felt that whatever is happening tonight, at the latest, it won’t matter the next day.

These moments which start of the wrong foot can be bounding and we made it a bounding experience, she didn’t blame me for what I did as I couldn’t do better at that point in time, I didn’t blamed myself either. We accepted the situation, talked about what could be a good outcome for both of us and exchanged about it for half an hour. At the end, we felt close to each other, love and care. We both shown that in many occasions during this hour and we could be grateful of it. I needed to be weak and to be honest and she needed to be forgiven and accept she felt helpless to me at the beginning.

When the hour passed, we still had one hour to go. I had everyone dancing around like crazy, perfecting or learning their moves. Some of them even looked that singing stars by that time. Female or male were dressed up, make up was on and the people around me looked really into it, which was impressive.

I spend a good 20 other minutes talking to one of the girl I was close to, she definitely saw me face that looked scared and we had a similar discussions, I explained what happened with my partner or the game I am playing with her or others. How scary this process look like and why. She tried to cheer me up, show she cares and I am grateful to her for that. She didn’t owe me anything.

Between these 2 interactions, I felt a lot better. Even I could do it. So I spent so times listening to my songs and singer. See what I can learn and how I can do that, after all many people before did and some of them were probably like me.

 Welcome to Choice Theater

For once I’m gonna share the name of the process, as it doesn’t give much away!

When we went back into the room, the explained what the process was really about and how we could complete it. Overall my guess not to prepare was quite right but the process was actually a lot harder and more demanding to complete that I thought it would and looked around at everyone’s faces, I wasn’t the only one being surprised by it.

I believe we took 4h30-5h to complete it. Not as long as the previous day, but still quite some time.

Thinking about how stressful it was to be one of the last the previous day, I tried to motivate myself and see I could be selected to be one of the first ones. We had to do a small action all at once and the trainer would pick the next to go based on that small performance. I wanted to give it all but when it was time to do it, I didn’t really as I was telling myself “Yeah, you can try next time. I don’t feel it too much right now”.

You can imagine how it went, I wasn’t the last to go in the end, but just the one before the last! We are 18 to take part in this training.

The first people to go where the most motivated, the ones that love to dance or/and sing. Even for them it was a challenging process! It is build in a way to make it challenging, whether you know what you do or not. Most people took a while to get it completed, especially the first ones, they had to figure out how it will work for them.

This started to bring me back to my scared mode, I started to believe again that I can’t do it. When I saw how good people were at it and how they struggled, I felt I couldn’t do it again.

When someone’s is succeeding, then some music starts and we can all dance with them. People tend to go wild, to jump, yell and leave it all out. We have been pilling heavy things for days now so these moments are very intense in joy and very freeing. Not for me. I couldn’t connect to that at all, I wouldn’t even understand why people would want to do so. I still wanted to support my peers so I was clapping or “dancing” but it was an empty try and people could see it quick frankly.

I isolated and looked sad again. This happened for a while, then I remembered what I discussed earlier with my partner, asked myself the questions again and made it okay for a little more. But it was a nearly 5 hours long process, so I had 4 hours before it was my turn and 16 people performed before. Someone took 1 hour to pass the process. Quite a few people were around the 15-20 minutes mark. The amount of people who got it in a few minutes is closer to zero than 5 I believe.

The next time the fear came back, it couldn’t do much about it. The questions had no meaning, the fear was so strong. When it is our turn to go in the center of the room to be selectioned we are 8 left, then 7 and a bit later, in was only 4 of us and I will still there so my chance started to be very high.

At that time one thought that was very strong and keep coming back is that I can’t do it. So if I can’t, the only option I have is to open the door and leave, grab my things and take the train to Amsterdam. I would just have to pay one night of hotel after all and no one could force me to do this process anyway. This thought was very strong, appealing and it kept coming back in the last hour before I actually did it.

At the same time, I was fighting it. I was trying to remember to moments in my life were I was wild when I danced, some of it when I was drunk when I was 15-20 but I wasn’t really drunk at that moment. Then I remembered that early in my 20’s we were clubbing quite a lot with my friends and we were into 80’s songs but as well Electro and we had a few tracks that drove us crazy! I remembered myself dancing in my car on my way to work on school on some of these.  i remember one melody, one rythme. I also remember how we used to dance with these friends or how the wildest people in the room where dancing in these moments. I tried my best to stick to these memories as it may be hopefully the solution to my issue. But it wasn’t enough, I was really scared. I felt I just can’t do it.

I know the theory of “Emotions come from motions” so I told myself to dance and participate while other people were successful but I just couldn’t. Similarly I know that physiology needs to change first so I tried to change my breathing and moving a bit my body on my chair while other were performing. But it didn’t really help. The training came to me and encouraged me to dance with others when it was happening, it was clear to send too that I was freezing in a way. The girl I talked to earlier come close to me, took my hand and tried her best to cheer me up for a while. It has a small impact but deep down it felt I wanted to stay in that fear and that isolation as it was the side of me that was the safest. I have been there a few times with that intensity in my life and even if the last time was nearly 15 years ago, it was still the most comfortable option I gave myself.

Then there was 3 of us left, each time when doing the little performance, I was afraid to have my name called out. I was telling myself that if that is happening, I may just open the door and run, no one can force me to do it if I don’t want to.

Then we were 2, we both looked like we really don’t like that but as you know, it was my turn. I got called out. I went in the center of the room, didn’t felt like opening the door anymore and leaving. Closed my eyes and tried to get started. I had a blank, I couldn’t remember the melody I want to sing so it was worrying. So I said to myself that I can just start to dance like crazy and see what is happening but each time I told my left leg to start, nothing moved. I was probably not really telling my body to move after all but it felt I tried mildly.

A few minutes passed and I’ve been called by the trainer, in these moments they offers you a bit of a coaching if I can call it this way. For me it was just similar to the day before for the last process, he asked me if he needs to piss me off like he did yesterday with my partner, as he is happy to do so if it helps. Told me a few things I don’t remember and then said that he will count to 3 and I will go, then I just need to do whatever I fell like and see.

He counted: 3, 2 and 1. Gave me a little push in the back and the melody came back. All that time, I kept my eyes closed. I won’t really say why as it is giving too much away in the case you’d like to do this training yourself but it turned out to be useful. I started to dance and sing the melody. I knew that the only way out is giving all I can so I started to increase the intensity. Not trying to control my arms or legs, just let them move. Make my voice strong and strong, more intense.

Remember that my voice was damaged from a process the day before? After one minute or two, I needed water badly as I couldn’t go higher. I grabbed a bottle and took a few zips and went back to it right away. Focusing on increasing the intensity as much as I can, while keeping my eye closed. It was me for myself and others don’t matter. I had no clue if I was close to success or not, I just kept going for a few minutes.

I need another break for my voice and take some breaths. Then I started again, as intense as I could and then I heard it. I got it. It was over. And it only took less than 10 minutes probably and 5 of dancing or so. It was it, so simple and it was over.

Everyone was dancing with me, the music was loud. I had issue to realize that it was over and that I have been worrying so much for such a little thing, that I could do so easily and so quickly. I didn’t felt it was freeing me either but it was a victory and a big one. Everyone supported while I felt like all evening I didn’t gave them that much support and I felt undeserving of it. I felt that I betrayed them to some degrees as I was so busy with myself and my own fears that I couldn’t be there for them.

When I danced with everyone, I went back to my head quite quickly. Trying to think how I should move, what I should do, what the other did that looked cool and what not but it was mostly in the background. I could enjoy the moment and dance.

It was truly astounding to see how much fear I can create and how much I can isolate just because I don’t want to do something. Of course, it is extremely rare in my life but I’ve been learning about limiting self-believes, about physiology and emotions and all that but it is not the best allies in these moments.

I’m uncertain if I could consider it a breakthrough or not but it was definitely a very good lesson I’ve learned this day. I believe some people who wanted changes a lot more than I wanted had more out of Choice but I also found out that it was a very good experience for where I am right now in my life. On

 

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