All of us have experienced painful events in our lives, some more than others. Some of us have even been traumatized. ”The Work” is all about processing those events and free yourself from the burden of feeling sad, angry, mistreated, abused or neglected, etc. ”The Work” is about healing yourself. Why? Because only when we are healed we can make the right choices, feel true happiness, and have a clear conscience.
Whenever our boundaries are breached and our integrity or our dignity is being damaged or our basic human needs aren’t being met, there will be an emotion of pain. Now, imagine that emotion is -energy in motion- and most of us lack the tools to process this -energy in motion- in a good, constructive way that heals whatever that was damaged. So the pain gets stuck in our body.
The first time I realized that I had a lot to work on, was when I started Hyper Island in 2006. I was 24 years old and the first team-building-exercise we did was a personal presentation, an assignment that would change my life.
”Tell us about three events that have shaped you and made you into the person you are today”
I don’t remember the events I choose at that moment but the whole thing just made me realize all the stuff that I needed to deal with that was influencing my life in a bad way. So I did. I started to do ”The Work”. I started to reflect upon myself and my life and my destructive strategies and my attitude and defense mechanisms. I realized I was afraid of a lot of stuff.
Mostly my strategies were supposed to help me avoid being rejected, ignored, neglected, and humiliated. My strategies were not working.
I read a lot of books about personal growth. I went to therapy. I kept a journal. I wrote one of the most difficult letters we can write I think; That to our parents. I become aware of what events had shaped me and that I can choose not to suffer. We can re-shape, re-think, and shift our minds. I came out of the victim mentality. I accepted the fact that people left me, that they didn’t want to be friends anymore. I survived. I allowed myself to leave people and relationships that no longer helped me grow or helped me move forward. And so I found new friends. Adding new perspectives to life. I invested in myself through therapy, education and a vision emerge in my head. I become a facilitator in group dynamics and was coaching people and professionals in group dynamics and personal growth. I took a leap of faith in myself and started my own business. Things that I had dreamed of came true. I was so happy.
I processed a lot of pain and healed a lot of stuff during the period between 2006-2013. My life changed dramatically. I was so much happier. Feeling grateful and blessed. Achieving things felt effortless. It was fun working, I was almost ashamed of getting paid. There was synchronicity happening all the time. I felt a flow. I was true to myself. It was amazing.
Then one day I was standing in my vision, the scenario that I had dreamed of several years before happened. That was the beginning of the end. My ego told me I was done with the personal growth work. Now It was my time to be served. I had proven myself, my ego said… You can read about my depression here.
What I should have done in 2013 was quite the opposite. I should have gone back and picked up ”The Work”. I was barely at stage 4 in my process of healing. Personal growth is not a linear process, it’s iterations with thresholds that gets harder and harder to overcome. Its almost as if there is a self-preservation mechanism build into personal growth. We get just the right amount of challenge and insights that we can chew for the time being. When we grow as humans, our conscience grows as well. Instead of becoming comfortable and looking outside for my next vision I should have become still and search within for my true purpose. I should have asked my conscience; How can I be of service now?
Here are the steps in ”The Work” and recommendations on how you can work through this. Even though I present the steps as linear, they don’t have to come in this order and all the steps need to be revisited. Personal growth and healing happen in iterations throughout life. Also, remember, I am self-made, self-taught, all of this is based on my own experience. My recommendations are a mix of everything I ever read, everyone I ever meet, and all the work I have done to heal myself.
1. What events have influenced your life? Think about, maybe 5-10 events, usually during the time between 1-20 years old. Use post-its. Write as many events down as you possibly can. Put the post on the wall for a good overview especially if you do this with a friend or a partner. Don’t judge yourself or the event.
2. Confront the pain by expressing your deepest feelings and thoughts Look at your posts. What events caused you pain? Let’s say that pain can be felt on a scale from 1-10. Just separate all the posts with pain in them, even if it is just a 1 or 2 on that scale. Now you have another overview. Now ask yourself; Which events need to be dealt with at this moment?
3. Confront your violations and your perpetrators Look at your posts, the ones that need to be dealt with. Now; Express in what way you were hurt and what you would have needed instead. This can be done by writing a journal or write a letter (that you send or may not send) through art, through visualization working with mirror neurons. There is Gestalt Therapy, Hypnoses, and Hypnotherapy that could support the healing as well. Or just by speaking to an object symbolizing your perpetrator. The healing is not depending on the way in which your thoughts and needs are being received. It doesn’t matter if the person you need to confront is dead. The healing process is still happening as long as you feel the pain and express yourself from your heart (not from your mind). The heart is emotions, it’s messy, it’s dynamic, it’s loud, strong, and colorful and silent at times. For example; If your family member, friend, or your ex, etc, refuses to accept your perception the healing still takes place because what happens is that your ego is helping you to establish your boundaries, your dignity, and integrity again. That’s what a strong healthy ego is supposed to do, serve the body and soul/heart, not the mind. You might wonder, –If I express to my parents how neglected I felt as a child, I will inflict pain onto them. They will break, or go crazy and we will never heal from that. How does that make things better? YOUR INTENTION IS EVERYTHING! If your intention is to hurt or inflict pain. Then, you will not heal anything or anyone, only make things worse. But if your intention is to heal yourself and your next step in that process is to express yourself and stand up for your experience then that is what you need to do. When your intention is to heal, you will prepare yourself and be clear in your message. It is never to late to give that little inner child or that teenager a voice. This step can take some time, hours, days, weeks, months, years. It depends on your level of awareness from before and the amount of pain that needs to be processed. Maybe you need to read some books or talk to someone about what you are going through. Find role models. The internet is full of them. You probably have to revisit some events more than one time. Your mind can play tricks on you, telling you that you are fine with what happened. This is not an exercise for the mind, it’s for the heart. You have come a long way with these 3 steps when you can forgive with your heart. And believe it or not; You are 100% done when you feel gratitude for everything that ever happened to you and you are grateful for every encounter you ever had. Gratitude comes from accepting someone else’s level of ignorance that caused you pain and the insight that ignorance can only be cured through awareness. Gratitude is an emotion that enters your life when you become aware of all the lessons that you gain from every event you ever had and that some of those lessons lead you to some of your blessings in life. It is all connected. And, how impossible it might seem to you to be able to feel gratitude, I promise you. It can happen to everyone who truly wants to heal and work hard at it.
4. Confront your mistakes When we are influenced by ”negative” emotions and there is stuff within us that we haven’t processed and healed, we do stupid things when we are growing up, but also as grownups. We can develop an unhealthy ego. An unhealthy ego only cares about how it can be served by others and how to serve that of which is ”success” in your current paradigm. We make chooses, we build a career, we become partners and parents, etc. without being aligned within. There will be consequences. A lot of our mistakes are a part of life. We learn we raise our awareness and we do better. But some mistakes that we did can hunt us. If you deliberately breached someone’s personal boundary at some point in your life, you are gonna feel pain as your conscience is catching up with you. Remember, it’s a good thing, it means that you are growing as a person. Some mistakes are the things we never did. That gut feeling we didn’t listen to. Now; think of all your mistakes that do not let you go. That holds on to you. Things you did to yourself and others and things you didn’t do. Write them down on post its. Ones again, lean into the pain! And remember, you choose what to do. Nothing is forced upon you. To heal is a free choice. 5. Heal your violations and your victims Now, look at your post its from the previous step. What mistakes do you need to process? How will you heal it? Who do you need to ask for forgiveness and how should you do that? A personal encounter? A letter? Speaking to an object? Or working with mirror neurons. Doing community service? Donate money. Once again, be aware of the mind and the ego working together trying to avoid pain and take the easy way out (like donating money). If you take the easy way out you will end up back here at some point. Your healing process is not depending on which way your apologies are received or even accepted. This is all about you and your way to make amends for what you have done or didn’t do. You know when you have completed this step when you feel gratitude and love in your heart. When you feel that you have done the right thing. 6. Forgive yourself This is impossible without doing the previous steps and feel peace in your heart, for now. Now you need to work with affirmations and/or mantras. For example, you can tell yourself: I acted on the level of awareness at the time and I was ignorant Now I know better and I will do better I forgive myself for not feeling, seeing nor hearing all that was there For the things I didn’t do, I was not ready The time was not right There is a meaning to this path I am on at this very moment I will open my eyes and see I will listen more within, open up my heart I will be present, participate, and tread carefully… I am loved, I am safe, I belong and I am needed All is well, all is perfect Find whatever works for you. Experiment. You have to believe what you are saying, until you do, Fake it until you make it! This is also a good time to manifest this transformation by changing and re-built your network. What do you want to see in your social media. What do you want to read about? What gets you inspired now? What will help you grow and take the next step? Are you following your role models? 7. Energy work Now you have released a lot of ”bad” energy. It helps to exercise during this process and to drink a lot of water. Yoga is great. All types of exercise are great of course. Now, it will be easier than ever before to train and eat healthily, I promise you! This is where you can start receiving visions and manifest your next step. If you feel inspired and there is an idea that you want to try, do it. This is where you can feel bliss. Real energy again. This is when actions towards your vision start to appear. Get up, dress up, show up. This is when synchronicity happens. Follow your gut feeling. When things are going great, enjoy it and save some money for your next step. If you have done step 7 and start to fall down in a dark pit again. Revisit the previous steps and see what else needs to be processed. Remember; Personal Growth happens in iterations. When you are back in step 7 and feel done with the past and you just can't find your way forward. If you can’t feel your next step, your next step is step 8.
8. Surrender to the unknown, your higher self, source energy … whatever you want to call IT. Spirituality is your next step and it's all about energy. If you got to this point I suggest that you start to read up on spirituality and hack your mind. Change your paradigm. Accept that everything is energy. Take an online course in meditation. I strongly recommend Mindvalley. There are lots of books on quantum physics, chakras, the power of the heart, etc, that might help you accept a new different world with new guidelines so to speak. Start applying The 12 laws of the universe. Google it or read this post.
Some people jump straight to step 6, 7, or 8 which means that they are bypassing their own personal growth.
They are not healed. Their control center is still in the mind. They are not including their body, soul/heart, and spirit. A person can say a lot of really nice stuff like compassion, kindness, inclusion, diversity, equality, feminism, love, oneness … But if this person is angry and shame and blames you for not acting accordingly. ”Guilt trip” you for having a different opinion. Then that person is not grounded. If you are true to your conscience you are not drained and tired by the things you say and do. More likely, you are content and mindful. Because regardless of the challenges you are facing, you know that you are doing the right thing and that brings you peace of mind. If you say that you are true to your conscience but still feel drained and tired you have probably bypassed your own personal growth and you might still have some parts left that need to be processed and healed. A strong and intellectual mind and a strong ego, serving the paradigms measures of success (which probably make others perceive them as ”successful”) can really be a massive hinder for making the right chooses, feel true happiness and have a clear conscience which is really what life is all about.
When you are ready, meditate; I want to be of service. How can I be of service now? What is in me that wants to emerge. I am ready, show me the way. It can take some time when you are ready you will feel what step to take. This period can make you think that you are a bit lost and it really puts ”your work” to the test. This is when your savings can come handy for you to be in silence and solitude and visit nature often. If you need inspiration I’ll recommend Christina Lopes, A spiritual leader on youtube (Hardcore). If you want more of a church, a movement within Spirituality, I recommend Agape International Spiritual Center with Micheal Beckwith. But my number ONE recommendation is, once again, Mindvalley. To me, they are the most modern online university teaching us what we really need to learn for the 21st century in terms of personal growth and self-mastery. If you are struggling you can google ”The dark night of the soul” and ”The death of the Ego” and check-in this video ”The ego is not your enemy”.
Choose your guides carefully. Listen to people that RADIATE love and compassion (not only talking about it). Listen to people that are living what they preach and are happy (without regular use of drugs or any other addiction).
My recommendation is to be skeptical towards anyone that forces their belief on you. That's not spirituality, that's religion. In spirituality, nothing is forced.
A great spiritual leader of the 21st century don't want to lead people. He or she wants to free people. Like one great spiritual leader once said told me: ”Feel your way through the darkness guided by your beating heart” - Avicii.
This is personal growth and self-mastery through dedicated work of healing yourself from within. Your purpose is always to make the world a better place and through healing and meditation, you are increasing your chances to hear your calling that of which you have been searching for. The meaning you have been missing. That knowledge that was inside of you all along. This is something that we can only feel. If we are tangled up in a lot of emotions of pain from the past hindering us, how are we supposed to feel where we are supposed to go?