“On top of things” was the caption underneath this photo, taken at the empire state building after a Tony Robbins event 6 years ago.
Pretending to be kicking ass when in reality I was utterly broken on the inside.
The place where I worked was extremely toxic and was taking a toll on my physical health, besides being put down and told I was not good enough consistently by the owner.
I thought I was killing it when in reality, it was all -slowly- killing me.
The love and joy for life was being sucked out of me, and I was an accomplice in all of it!
I had decided to go and see Tony Robbins since I didn’t know much better and the UPW program promised to be a catalyst for growth in ALL areas of my life.
The truth is that, after jumping up and down, endlessly high-fiving strangers and shouting affirmations into the air..
and walking on hot burning coals..
NOTHING substantial changed.
Because you cannot shout and distract your way out of looking inside.
You cannot ‘firewalk’ your heart into openness…
You cannot high-give yourself out of trauma and the coping mechanisms you have gathered.
And I don’t mean to pee on anyone’s parade, for I know that his events and books tend to be the starting point for money.
However, looking back, I realize that events like these often set the wrong tone for what doing the work ACTUALLY means.
Because after a workshop high people are faced with the inevitable lows that follow.
The low of an still hyper-vigilant nervous system
The low of unconscious patterns and habituated triggers
The low of essential disconnection from life itself
The low of absent community and quality relationships
The low of having financial resources to pay for “transformative” experiences only to realize that nothing substantial had transformed..
So you must choose and admit whether you got fooled or there’s something wrong with you.
And most people would rather pathologize themselves than admit they were wrong in their discernment and made a poor investment.
Doing the work is not cheering and clapping over a weekend with thousands of others..
It is having the courage to sit alone and in silence.
To face your past, your history, your trauma and the ways in which you carry it until now..
To recognize that it is your low standards and permissiveness that have allowed for ugliness to dig its roots into your life.
To do the work is to claim full responsibility for ALL OF IT.
And that is painful, because to heal it you must first feel it.
To do the work is not to fake smile and dance, then shout affirmations into the mirror saying “I am wealthy, healthy and in love” while your house is on fire.
Doing the work is understanding that life doesn’t care for what you say to the mirror, and the fire will consume you if you don’t turn around and pay attention to it.
It means doing the less exciting, less cool stuff of pulling up your sleeves and digging through decades of old sh!t.
Stirring it all over until you find missing parts of yourself, tending to them, cleaning them and putting your heart back together.
“On top of things” was a good description, for I was stepping over all that was not working so that the illusion of grandiosity could be created.
So that others would think that I was somehow higher.
When what I really needed was not to be on top of it but IN IT.
Involved with it.
Noticing, feeling, reflecting and releasing all of what was weighing heavy.
Which, fortunately I eventually did.
I thank the Colombian jungle medicines in great part for this, for it was in the darkest of nights -covered in vomit, tears and pain, body shaking and mind split into a million pieces- that I found myself.
I returned to my truth not by pretending to be on top of all that had hurt but by going inside of it, to its core.
Calling out for all the parts of my psyche that had fragmented out of pain and shame, and having the humility and courage to forgive, embrace and integrate them back into me.
It was only when I stopped pretending that I was somewhere where I was not, that life provided me with the tools and the guidance to do the work.
From an honest starting point, and not a fake, self-aggrandized illusion.
It was only then that, in the mornings after ceremony, that the smiles and high-fives were unnecessary – for the deepest sense of victory, arrival. realization and celebration were already deeply imbedded into my heart.
What ensued afterwards was grace itself.
In short, my relationship ended, I quit my job, changed my habits.
Lost 20+ pounds of excess weight, started earning in a day what I would in 2 months of work, got married, restored the relationship with my family, started 2 more companies…
But the most important accomplishment was discovering that..
The path and the work is NOT achieved by walking on fire.
It is by letting your own fire burn you down!
Turn you into ashes.
Part away with all the illusions and falsehood you’ve accumulated..
All the stories about you who are and what life is..
Only then, when you’ve become no-thing.
You are free.
You are home.