So, who would willingly be blindfolded and sent into the woods with nothing to guide you other than a tiny piece of twine? Why a handful of entrepreneurs who know that growing yourself and going outside your comfort zone is the key to breakthroughs in your life and business, that’s who, and I was one of them.
A few weeks ago while climbing trees in Kentucky on the afternoon of the second day we were told that we’d be doing an experiential exercise; that was the extent of the instructions. Oh, and we were told to have shoes that we didn’t mind getting muddy. Sounded innocent enough…Ha!
The experience began on a small peninsula at the lake of the property where we were staying. Our instructions were simply to stay blindfolded and follow a tiny piece of twine through the woods. I figured I’ve been blindfolded before and led various places (no, my life doesn’t parallel some wild mysterious fictional book, it was on two different spiritual retreats) – how hard could it be? Hard, freaking hard! That’s how hard it could be. Let me explain…
I was at the front of the group (we were each separated by 6-12 feet for safety) and initially it went well. I was tuned into the heightened awareness of my other senses and able to confidently put one foot in front of the other following the twine and trusting in my instincts and my colleagues who created the course for us. I was feeling great, thrilled to be having this experience. And then…
I fell in a hole. Not a big hole, but a step into darkness that dropped a few feet off the path. That little misstep was the beginning of what I call a total descent into hell – the hell of uncertainty, pain, and a mind playing nonstop terrifying tapes as I tried to keep moving forward.
Does this sound familiar? Maybe a few parallels to your day to day life? (was for me…)
From that point forward every painful thing I have experienced or been experiencing in my life came flooding through me like a tsunami and I was just a wreck. Sobbing uncontrollably into my blindfold, stumbling around losing footing, sliding down muddy hills, walking into trees, trying to tie my shoes blindfolded as they kept coming untied, losing my hat and trying to find it blindfolded. I could go on. I felt lost, alone, unsupported, and betrayed by people I trusted. It was a very torturous and unproductive world that I was experiencing in my mind and I literally thought it would never end.
Sound dramatic? Well it was… at least within my own experience. Not unlike the way our daily lives sometimes unfold.
Eventually it did end but not until I slid down the final hill multiple times as I just could not find my way up and out no matter how I reached, no matter how I tried different things. Thankfully a hand descended down the hill to pull my sorry self up after several failed tries. Then I could finally sit under the tree I had chosen at the start of the exercise and just rest. For me the resting looked like a lot more sobbing, but clearly was what was meant to be. It is also amazing how beautiful and comforting the sounds of nature, in this case several songbirds, can be when you are feeling this way. But, how often in daily life do we stop the drama to find that grounding? Another gift of the moment.
So what did I learn from this experience?
What Others See of Me is Different Than How I See Myself
I think this lesson is SO important and I work with my clients on this all the time. Sometimes I need a visceral reminder myself. While I was busy having drama, feeling lost, isolated, alone, and like a total loser, what others saw (there were 2 facilitators assisting and ensuring we all had a safe journey) was a confident, self-sufficient woman who was cruising through the course in the woods. This couldn’t be further from the reality of the experience I was having or what I was feeling at the time. The lesson I learned from this is:
1) We’re often far too hard on ourselves than we need to be and all this projecting, worrying, and wondering what others will think is a total waste of energy specifically designed to keep us stuck.
2) What we are feeling and experiencing is valid. It is our experience after all. That said, do what is necessary to honor and learn from your feelings but don’t let them become your irrevocable truth without a little more curious exploration about them.
Don’t Go Down the Rabbit Hole
When I fell in that hole I just crumbled. My confidence went out the window and my mind chatter took me hostage. Rather than simply notice this misstep for what it was (simply a missed step), adjust, and keep moving forward fully present in the moment, I went down the rabbit hole of no return. How many times in life or business does a small misstep come along and then boom, you’re back into doom, gloom, and doubt? The lesson I learned from this: If you step in a hole, see it for what it is and don’t let it take you and your mindset down. Learn from it, adjust, and keep moving forward toward what you DO want.
You Are Closer to Succeeding Than You Think You Are
On that last hill that I just could not get up, I kept reaching and trying new approaches but just couldn’t make it happen. Afterwards I learned that I was literally a fraction of an inch from reaching a strong branch with which to pull myself up. While I was in a pit of despair mud wresting with my monkey mind (literally!), I was literally THAT close to my goal. The lesson I learned from this: Success is closer than you think and the difference between stuck and success is a matter of inches. Keep moving forward in trust.
People Can’t Read Your Mind and Can’t Help You if You Don’t Ask
It’s been a lifelong assumption of mine that people will someday just read my mind, know what I am feeling, see what I need, and just come flocking to me with endless love and support and all will be perfect. Makes for a good animated film, but life doesn’t work that way. No one knew what pain I was in or the experience I was having. They had no clue whatsoever. Later that afternoon I reached out to one of my friends in the group for support and we had a long, loving discussion. It truly touched me and will remain a special gift in my heart for a long time. Her message and my lesson? Other people see me as a strong, capable woman (which I am!) and so when I am hurt or need love or support, friends don’t know how they can help because I don’t tell them (or ask for the help). Such a simple truth, but then how many of you high achieving, talented women (and men) out there are reading this and do the same exact thing? I know I’m not the only fiercely independent and stubborn one!
You Are Supported and Loved Even When You Feel All Alone
In our darkest moments when we feel most alone as well as during our everyday life when things are happening at lightning speed and we feel isolated and disconnected, we are loved. As an entrepreneur it can be easy to feel alone when you work solo. This sentiment was shared by our entire group. For me personally I often struggle with feeling the love and gratitude of those I care about unless it is right dab smack in front of me in the room (and heck it took me years to learn open to it when it is right in front of me!). Then I create a big story about how that means I am all alone, nobody loves me, blah, blah, blah blah…cue the violins for the world’s biggest pity party for one. But as I shared earlier our feelings are real and valid; they key is to use them to inform our experience rather than dictate it. So if that is how you’re feeling, that is your reality. Yet, with just a slight shift in perspective (also known as a miracle) the world opens up and you can know that you are loved and supported at all times…by those who care about you and on a deeper, more spiritual level as well. Lesson I learned? Reach out, Ask. Listen and feel the love that exists even when I am by myself. It is as close as the next heartbeat and as accessible as the next deep breath.
Ever experience these pitfalls even without being blindfolded and left wandering in the wilds? Ready to learn how to transform them into gifts? Contact me at https://www.thepaulagcompany.com/application and request a complimentary Intuitive Intelligence™ Activation Session.