I had just turned 40 years old and was really taking a hard look at my life. I felt like such a cliché, wondering if I was having a ‘mid-life crisis’ or was just in a reoccurring rut. I was married with two kids living in a beautiful brownstone townhouse in a big US city. I was running a thriving business with a very vibrant social circle, yet it still felt like there was something missing – that there was more to life.
No matter how much therapy, self help and meditation I did I was still re-playing the same patterns with my husband, work relationships and battles with my kids. I grew up in a middle-class family that gave me enough grit to be successful mixed with just enough insecurity to feel inferior and not worthy. I carried the baggage of being a people-pleaser to a fault and I looked to male relationships to validate my success in life. While I was accomplishing things on the outside, I was eating myself alive on the inside. Outwardly I projected perfectionism to get attention and when that didn’t fulfil me anymore, I flipped into self-sabotage to escape the overwhelm of life.
After years of couples and individual therapy, countless self help books and yoga retreats, I was tired of putting a bandaid on something that only had temporary results. I wanted something that could actually change the way I felt, thought and acted. I knew there was something more and I was never going to find it in the daily grind that I was in. My husband sent me an article by Dylan Jones from the UK version of GQ Magazine, where he mentioned the Hoffman Process and it struck a chord. it claimed the Process was ‘a life-changing experience that can clinically remove negative habits by facing your childhood and moving on.’ Since memories of my own childhood were very happy, I thought to myself: ‘how am I going to find fault with the adoration and constant support my family always gave me?’ My parents were still together and did their best to give me everything in life. Despite all that, I was hooked on the notion of initiating a radical change in my life and thought: ‘what do I have to lose?’
Starting the pre-course work took a lot of determination and I soon realized that the ‘trophy child’ role that I’d forced myself into was something that my parents didn’t even realize they’d moulded me into. They both came from humble backgrounds where resources were unavailable. While they were giving me everything they didn’t have for themselves and their intentions were pure, the unintended lesson was a level of expectation that I was humanly incapable of achieving. This was something only Hoffman was able to tap into, as well as providing me with tools to escape from my rut and move on in a new way.
Prior to leaving for the UK I was really burdened with guilt for leaving my kids for an entire week. I’ve traveled without them plenty of times before, but we always connected daily via FaceTime and the idea of being completely detached for a week left me feeling highly uncomfortable. I was able to call them for a brief moment in the middle of the week and it actually made me laugh – they barely said hi, blowing a brief kiss and then they were off to play. Hanging up the phone I realized that everyone needs a healthy break from even their most cherished loved ones. One of the first things my kids said to me the moment I arrived home was, ‘Mom, you look happier than we’ve ever seen you.’
Walking into Hoffman the first morning I expected a bunch of depressed people wanting to sort out their problems, and I can tell you that it was anything but that. This course is not only for people with problems, it’s also for people who want more from life – people who are ready for the next chapter and who also want to age while embracing the wisdom that brings, rather than pushing it away. I entered the venue to find 23 people from around the world aged 29-80 years old, and while we all started out as strangers we now share a bond that’s so special and intimate. I’d never in a million years have met these people without this experience, and each person now carries a very special place in my heart, each adding something more beautiful than the next. We got to know each other without the small talk about what we did for a living, what they were putting in their kids lunches or how they were decorating their house. It was the most refreshing and authentic experience I’ve ever had.
There were challenging moments and times you had to sit in your emotions in a way no one ever taught you to do before and that was as powerful as hell. As a mom, I wish I’d gone years ago. Revisiting my childhood gave me so much insight into why my kids complain, why I take things personally and why my husband and I repeat the same patterns with each other despite the inevitable outcome. On day one, I realized that this is something I wish I could give to everyone I know and then I realized that was my pattern of codependency and control. So now I will just live this new found sense of contentment and love and wait till those I know and love are ready for the next step.
The Process offers the training and education that our kids need and this is what our whole world needs – to strip away the gunk, get in touch with our true essence and live a life free of patterns and fear. Hoffman has given me tools to see the world in a more technicolor way. It is not a cult and it is not weird. Each activity is an experience you could never even imagine and the element of surprise they deliver on a moment to moment basis is mind-blowing. The Hoffman Process is what all humans need. If you’re reading this, go sign up now – there’s not a doubt in my mind you’ll love every second of your life during and after the Process.
So, for me, back in the grind of daily life, how has it impacted me and did I just forget everything once I got back? It’s a process (no pun intended) that requires constant attention and growth like anything in life, but the difference is that I’m actually growing, evolving, and better equipped to interact with the world. As the founder and director of All About Dance and Dance Forever in Chicago, Illinois. I lead companies focused on engaging kids and adults in dance through enforcing and sharing positive energy. The things I’ve learned at Hoffman have allowed me to build better relationships, have more productive conversations, and be a better leader and teacher. The biggest impact being that I no longer take things personally and that has helped me grow so much. It also gave me the guts to sell our Chicago home, trading the rat race of the city for a lovely home in nature in Nashville, Tennessee. We’re now appreciating the simple things in life that my family gets to enjoy. I also notice that now my husband and I have both done the Process we have shared emotional vocabulary. It makes it much easier to communicate clearly and we’ve grown closer as a result.
The alumni community – or as they call it in the UK, graduate community – is fantastic and the post Hoffman support has been a constant in keeping me in touch with the real essence of me rather than the image I constantly seek to project for approval. No one can force you to do this – you have to be ready and you have to be open – it will change your life, open your eyes and ignite your soul in such a beautiful way, The best part is that you walk away changed with a new family of support that sees you and loves you from afar like you’ve never imagined.
Photocredits: Mike Chu