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What difference can three days make?

[ 0 ] October 1, 2016 |

They say that, until our pain is greater than our fear, we never change. That does seem to be true.

"transformation" by Alex Sacui via Flickr. CC BY 2.0

“transformation” by Alex Sacui via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0

For me, that point came a few months ago. I had been in a time of mourning and deep depression, and my life had fallen apart. As I came awake and looked around, I knew things had to change. The effects of depression were all around me in piles of clutter, neglected houseplants, peeling paint, and an empty savings account.

When I was depressed, I couldn’t care about those things or much of anything else. Even if I tried, I really couldn’t care about anything. But suddenly I cared again, and I didn’t like how far I had fallen.

The worst part was how small I felt, and how scared. Every time the phone rang, I felt a jolt of anxiety and anticipated bad news. Even receiving an email from a former client was enough to send me into a tailspin, because I assumed the email would be about something I had failed to deliver while I was depressed. If I had to go out and talk to people in person, that was even worse. I survived by skulking around the edges and hiding behind more outgoing people. Or, if I could, I would just stay home and skip it altogether.

But I started taking an online course about building your business, and one factor it mentioned that’s important for success was being comfortable in your own skin, making eye contact with people, and taking up space. I had to read that last bit several times. Taking up space? Uh…that’s a good thing?

I had always felt virtuous as someone who stayed out of everyone else’s way and never asked for anything or bothered anyone. The only way I could have done better was not to be there at all. This was the first time it occurred to me that being invisible and staying out of the way might not be my path of highest service.

I wasn’t great on the other factors, either, but this one couldn’t have been more the opposite of me at the time. I could see that it was holding me back in a big way. I didn’t know what to do about it, but I knew if I could change this one thing about myself, I could do just about anything.

The business program I was taking included a retreat in August, so I went, determined to learn how to take up space. Although it was a business program, a lot of it was about the mental game, and that’s what I really wanted. I could see that my own internal garbage was holding me back–if I didn’t have to spend all this energy battling myself and my weaknesses, I’d be free to do amazing things. But more immediately, I wanted to be able to function in life without wanting to dive for cover whenever I was introduced to someone or heard the phone ring.

The three days I spent at that retreat changed my life in ways I never could have foreseen. I’ve been writing about self-help and personal development for five years, and I’ve been working on myself for far longer than that. But there is a power in getting together with a group that you could never duplicate on your own.

It’s hard to put into words, but here are a few pieces of what worked.

  • We were in a different environment, far from everyone who knew my weaknesses, so I was free to try on a stronger identity without anyone judging me as being fake.
  • The other people were all big-hearted, inspired people with amazing missions. I wanted to be amazing enough to contribute and pull my own weight.
  • All of the participants were working toward the same thing, so we had a lot of the same stories and could support each other in growing through them. Some of my best insights actually came during other people’s coaching sessions, because they shared similar problems from a different perspective.
  • Our leader is an excellent coach, with great skill in helping people see their own blocks and break them.
  • I desperately wanted to change, so I threw myself into the experience completely, determined to get everything I could out of it.

By the end of the three days, I had experienced one big breakthrough and several small ones. I transformed from a shrinking violet to a full-on baller. All I had to do was put the change into action. That’s what allowed me to come home, restart 17000 Days, offer coaching calls, connect with people during these calls and help them, host a webinar earlier this week, and be seen wherever I go.

It’s hard to believe, but I’m not afraid of people any more. I realized the other day: I used to feel a jolt of anxiety any time the phone rang or I got an email or whatever. That’s not happening any more. I’m free. And now I can keep building the life I truly desire for myself.

For me, that means helping other people get clear on what they want and how to make it happen. I believe everyone deserves a life of meaning, freedom, and happiness, and I believe you can have it if you take action. That’s my “Big Why”–the reason behind what I do.

And I believe the quickest way to get that is through a retreat like the one I attended in August. That’s why I’ve designed the Ignite Retreat specifically to help you get the breakthroughs and achieve the transformation you need to get out of your own way and do what you want to do. It could save you years of trying to get there on your own. And if you want a better life, wouldn’t you rather it start right away?

Sunday is the last day to apply. You can get all the information here. Let’s do this.

P.S. Did I mention the glorious fall leaves? And the luxury cabin? And the private chef? And the two hot tubs? And the fireplace? And the chocolate tasting? It’s all true! Click here to learn more.

About Cara Stein: I'm a writer and dreamer with a PhD in self-reinvention. (Or was that computer science?) Whether you're stuck, lost, or just looking to enjoy your life more, I want to help because I've been there!

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