When I first did the Landmark Forum (actually it was called The Forum in 1987) I remember, distinctly, experiencing, for the first time, that I am not alone.
There was so much misery shared in that room, that it caused a kind of comradery 1, I wasn’t familiar with.
I remember thinking: If I am not alone, then it is not me… then it is something shared…
Then I didn’t have this experience until this afternoon.
I have watched 10-15 minutes of the first episode of a Swedish series, 30 degrees in February (86 degrees Fahrenheit).
Hard to be with… 1985 was a long time ago.
The series was rated five stars by viewers, I bet because they saw themselves, because, maybe for the first time, they realized that they are not the only ones suffering in silence.
There is no American movie sharing anything similar in intensity. I think that American movies are politically correct, and addicted to positive thinking, i.e. avoiding, at all cost, the ugly, the terrible, the devastating feelings people experience in life, especially in their relationships, from other people.
No wonder Americans are the opposite of tough.
Nations are born stoic, die Epicurean… we must be really close to dying…
Given that I am an empath, it is harder for me to watch heart wrenching despair, because I have to not just watch it: I have to feel it. And I don’t like it any more than you do.
The difference between you and me are two-fold: you probably don’t feel their despair fully, even if you have empathy, which only a few percentage of adults hold onto.
The other difference is: I can take it if I am allowed to stop the movie, and do something else for 5-10 minutes.
So, this is what I did, and got to the end of that first session that created the context for the whole series: who is who and why are they opting to move to Thailand from one of the world’s most prosperous country, Sweden.
If you are like me, instead of running away, shrinking away, you should train yourself to be able to be with strong emotions, that are hard to stand.
Training yourself, consciously, deliberately, to be able to stand strong negative emotions longer and longer will pay unexpected dividends.
When I look back on all the people ever quit my programs, they all quit because they could not cope with the bad feelings their own failures, my calling them to account, or my withholding praise and coddling they expected caused.
If you don’t toughen up, all your ambitions are dead already… because life is full of disappointments, failures, hardships, and there is no avoiding them if you are up to something.
So, please make this your first deliberate practice… I am practicing as well. So you are not alone.