Fresh returned am I from my week in Greece (just east of the city of Volos for those who are interested), and from my week in the company of Mr.Brad Blanton and 25 other wonderful people hell-bent on discovering the benefits of practicing Radical Honesty.
I can only describe the experience as transformative. A lot like having the most amazing therapy session you've ever had, but having it every day for 5 hours, for 7 days in a row. I'm guessing I'll be talking a lot about this last week, partly to keep it all fresh in my mind and so as not to forget the lessons I learned, but also in the hope that I can impart a little of what I learned, and plant the seed in some of you to do some thinking about who you are to yourself and to other people.
I worked out quite a few years ago now that I was spending an inordinate amount of time sitting inside my head feeling very separate from a lot of the outside world,
paralysed by feelings of inadequacy (although often in denial about that), and very angry at a lot of people a lot of the time. After going through a long period of depression and some therapy I came to a very clear realisation that the source of all of my unhappiness was something very simple: it was the gap I perceived existed between who I actually was and who people believed me to be.
After probably close to four decades I'd gotten extremely good at appearing to be something that I knew I wasn't, but that I believed everyone else thought I was. It was often exhausting to be honest, and made me angry and resentful of the people I felt had no disparity between their internal and external personas. I particularly resented people who achieved success while seeming to know less, or have less talent/skill/ability than myself. The world felt an unfair place, full of opportunities that I seemed incapable of rising to despite being constantly told I was 'special', although in retrospect I realise that was because I understood those feelings about my specialness were based on the lie I'd created, or - to quote 'Hannibal' - the 'person-suit' I constantly wore.
This week, supported and surrounded by 24 other people who had a similar desire to find out what happens, Radical Honesty helped me to remove my person-suit completely for the first time and - most importantly - allowed me the privilege of seeing underneath everybody else's. And it was a beautiful, beautiful thing people. I honestly have difficulty describing it, but to be in the company of a whole crowd of people to whom I could say anything and give or receive an entirely honest, candid, 100% balls-out vulnerable answer about how they (or I) felt about that was possibly the most incredible thing I have ever been a part of.
The result of this week has been to give me such a powerful shot of courage, confidence and love for myself and for other people that I feel ready to take on the world. The memory of my time there and my experience will fade soon I know, and most of the friends that I grew to love with a passion may fall away as they move back into their own lives, but I honestly believe I will never be the same as a result of the lessons I learned there. And the wonderful thing about it is that I can recreate that feeling of closeness, of being seen and seeing others any time I like just by talking to people openly and without armour, telling them how much the thing they just said made me feel, or how their smile warms me up, or how much I enjoy the way they look or what I'm imagining they're really thinking when they say something that pisses me off.
In short, life is good people. Life is very good, and will continue to be so.