Permission for Love and Hate

I’m in a mood for grandiosity, be warned.
You know why I write this?
To cover that I’m ashamed of what I write in my headline. But I want to write it anyways. So I make a bit of a joke about myself, so it seems I don’t take myself serious.

Do you ever do this? Cover your self-expression by a little *hihi*, as if you didn’t mean it? But then, you do?

2 weeks and one day of the Knowmads Lab have passed, the first Knowmads program we are running here in Spain. Intense 2 weeks and one day.
On insistence of Matteo (‘denying responsibility here’), one of my amazing co-facilitators of the program, I’m participating in the workshops I am not facilitating myself. My resistence in the beginning was strong, I believed that to hold such a process, one must be untouched by it. And once I said this belief out loud, I knew I was acting against my own belief. How can I honestly support a group in a transformative experience, in an experience that will make a lasting difference in their life, and pretend to stay untouched by it?

Maybe, probably, there was a rationalization process going on, of my insecurity of meeting myself ‘out there’. (I was just going to type ‘after having been playing a role for a long time’ but then felt ashamed of that.)

Two weeks and one day of Knowmads Lab. 3 days of Possibility Management. As I wrote here, this workshop gave me some very valuable insights and models to work with my comfort zone (‘the box’) and another map of feelings and archetypes. More importantly, it challenged me to feel.

Feel anger and express it. Loudly. To the point that my throat was so sore that I couldn’t speak for some days.
Express sadness without smiling it away or making it seem ‘okay’.
Express fear. Feel fear, really. Without convincing myself that I don’t have this.
Express joy. The one that makes me generous and giving to others.

And then I gave a workshop in Non-Violent Communication. A language, method and practice I appreciate so much because it has given me so much connection with myself and others. And I stand there and I am zero connected with myself, stressed out about the program (‘making an excuse’). And I start speaking and immediately I criticize myself. Now, if I feel into it, I feel sadness at not being able to connect with what is so important to myself and share it.

Maybe the most painful, shameful experience of my life. I spent about two half days stuttering and being so consumed by my own judgement of what I was doing that eventually I was at a point of either ending the workshop right there or of re-booting the system, starting from scratch.

Methods that are not only methods but practices can’t be taught, I learn, again. If I don’t live what I am teaching, this will never arrive more than on a very superficial rational level. I can not teach empathy if I am consumed by stress, judgement and fear.

Non-Violent Communication this time teaches me to feel my pain without shying away from it, embracing it as a sign of what I care for and embracing it simply because I am in pain and pain wants to be embraced.

Meanwhile, I find myself making excuses. For not doing work I committed to doing, for not answering e-mails I committed to answer, for not being present as I expect myself to be present. And while I could make a decision and say ‘No, I will not to this work, I will not answer this mail, I will not be present there but take care of myself’, I find myself committing the same way to everything, not doing it and finding excuses afterwards.
How ugly it is to see myself act in this way. How painful to have to tell this to myself in a moment of great stress, of exhaustion and of a large pile of self-judgement. You are making dishonest excuses for things you committed to do.(‘maybe I will be appreciated for this self-judgement, combined with empathy for myself’)

Patri gives us a whole day on Authenticity, on Standing for Yourself in Vulnerability, on Shame.
Stand for 2 minutes in front of a group, they look at you, you can’t look at them. You stand, don’t move, don’t smile, don’t hide. Just there.
‘Ha, that’s easy for me.’ Yes, it is. If I fully ignore that every muscle in my body is tense and instead of looking at the opposite wall, I stare at a nail in it.
I remember when I was 7, having a sports class in primary school. We stretched and us boys we wanted to show off how easy that was for us and that it didn’t hurt us. The teacher said “If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not stretching at all.”
I think of this as I’m making my effort to prove that I have no shame.

In one of the last exercises, we bring an internal conversation outside. Three empty chairs, one person and another one only witnessing. One voice within us criticizes a specific behaviour with all the harshness we can employ against ourselves. Person sits on one chair while doing that. When all judgement is voiced, Person changes seats and impersonates the voice criticized. Voices what it feels being this other part. And so the conversation goes back and forth untill all is said. An empathic third voice, the one that listened to the first two, understands them but sees what they don’t, gives the last input.

What am I ashamed of? Grandiosity. Self-importance. Role-playing.
I play it through. It hurts a bit, but really, I manage to turn it into a roleplay of self-importance, to enhance my self-importance as I confront myself on self-importance.
Not ripe yet and it also turns out that I am not 100% sure I want to change it. Anyways, if I don’t, then I neither want to be ashamed of it. Shameless self-importance here, untill it hurts enough. If you’ve seen me change my facebook profile picture, I’m getting close. (‘joking to play over the shame’)

Radical Honesty.
Not brutal honesty. Not a bit of honesty. Radical Honesty. 2 years ago I got my first workshop by Manu and Michiel from modelminds. I remember a bit, but I forgot this important part. Radical Honesty is not about taking all these held-back sentiments and throwing them up on someone else. Radical Honesty is about going to the root (=radix -> radical) of the thing you are going to express and dare to go a step further, express it with vulnerability. And then, ‘brace for the impact’, be ready to connect with the other as to how he or she received what you told them.
I am good at no-honesty. I just keep it in and suffer until I don’t want to talk to this person anymore. That’s my usual survival strategy.

I am ok at throwing up on people. When I tell myself I’ve suffered enough or the other person ‘deserves’ it or the other person can ‘take it’, then I’ll just take whatever is nagging inside and put it on the other person, then usually moving away because I don’t want to clean up the mess.

Expressing what I feel in the given moment but walking the extra mile, reaching for my vulnerability and expressing it fully makes me feel excited and hugely challenged. I find it much more comfortable to remain the un-touched, the un-touchable, the un-known. And as I write this sentence, I feel my heart sinking. This heart is, though it has to suffer the consequences, very very open to vulnerability, suffering and realness – because everything else is not-life, is existence, not living.

There is another part to Radical Honesty that is a beautiful challenge. Not only to use it as a tool to express when I’m angry, annoyed and generally feeling bad, but to use it always. That is, also to use it in every day life to express appreciation, love and care. ‘Hello, I found you so attractive, I’d like to sleep with you.’ Just sharing.

And here comes the opening of another chapter of my life, I think. Some weeks back, I made the promise to myself, to not allow the concept of ‘people’ in my life anymore. Back at Knowmads, my close friend Maria said, after I’ve been ranting on about the general stupidity, ignorance and whatever-else-inadequacies of ‘people’: “Ivo, there are no people out there.”

Maria, it took me only about 2 years. There are no people. There is no category in which everybody that somehow is distant from me fits in.
In this world there are many many persons and not one of them is what I call ‘people’.

Here I am, ashamed, afraid, angry, open-hearted, loving and tired. Life gives me tasty lemons and I squeeze all I can. (‘judgement on making myself look great’)


In italic judgements and shame.