A little more than two years ago, I led my first Radical Honesty workshop. That was in Amsterdam. I still recall feeling nervous just before that workshop began (tightness in my stomach, restlessness in my body, shaky hands). I also recall feeling surprisingly confident. The workshop itself was great—for me, at least—as well as challenging and intense.
Since then, I’ve allowed myself to feel more fully the nervousness and the discomfort in my body in the moments before a workshop kicks off. I’ve noticed that I dislike waiting for the last participants to arrive and oftentimes am unsure if I want to chat with people or stretch or meditate or just sit and wait. Usually, during such moments, I feel tightness and restlessness in my stomach.
A few things have changed since that first workshop. These days, I’m far more comfortable with not always knowing what is best to do next. I’m fine with asking the group or an individual what they think we could do and I’m also fine with stating aloud that I see several options and I’m not sure which to choose. I don’t need to pretend to be anything else than what I am. And nobody needs to pretend to be anything else than what they are.
(Pretending is fun when it’s a game. I find pretending is far less fun when we’re trying to convince others that it’s the truth. I think “Sometimes I pretend” is one of the most fun and useful exercises we do in RH workshops and groups.)
In the past, I remember feeling worried, upset or hurt sometimes when people resented me and yelled at me. Nowadays, I get triggered by that far less. In fact, I now usually welcome the anger that participants express towards me. I see it as a sign of trust that they feel “safe” enough with me to be angry with me or disagree with me. And if I feel angry or sad, I will share that, too. I remember Brad Blanton—my teacher and the founder Radical Honesty—saying to me: “The best thing you can do is demonstrate honesty and forgiveness. Everything else you do as a leader is secondary.”
At the same time, some things have remained much the same: I still love doing this work. I still love witnessing people share their feelings and making themselves vulnerable and realizing things about themselves and their patterns. And I still love supporting people while they do their work (even when it comes to dealing with really tough matters like childhood violence and neglect, sexual abuse, addictions and mental illnesses of parents).