What I learned from Landmark Education
Some know the organization, Landmark Education, as a powerful teacher of personal growth and development.
Some think it’s a cult.
Back in 2011, I was introduced to Landmark workshops through a friend. Attending several workshops and learning some valuable personal growth and development tools, I was finally persuaded to attend a Landmark Forum, one of their big, multi day workshops.
Little did I know this workshop would unhinge me personally for the weekend and make me question my very existence and right to be a personality on this planet!
The friend who introduced me to Landmark Education had a great experience at his “forum.” He said the facilitator of the weekend’s workshop was funny and he had a great time learning and growing.
On the other hand, the facilitator for the forum I attended was more like a military sergeant than a jokester and she challenged me in ways that made me feel shameful at first and then confused, anxious and angry later on.
Although I walked away from the weekend’s events totally unhinged and riddled with anxiety, I learned some valuable lessons along the way. One of these lessons was that we as humans are “meaning making machines.” It’s actually true, and I was making meanings all weekend that left me feeling totally awful in the end!
And…what happened years later, after doing the forum, was a reconciliation with the forum leader that I did not expect or anticipate.
You know, when something traumatic happens and you think you’ve dealt with it, but really, that experience and those feelings are just lying under the surface waiting to be reignited or dealt with in the end?
That’s what happened for me here. A sibling was attending a lot of Landmark workshops about six to seven years after I did the forum. They asked me to attend more workshops, but after my experience at the forum I said, “No, thank you.” That’s when they encouraged, ok, more like challenged me, to deal with the traumatic experience I’d had with the forum leader I’d had.
I took on the challenge, knowing it was a growing “edge” for me, and I got in touch with the head office for Landmark Education asking them to connect me with the forum leader I’d had. I explained that I’d had a traumatic experience with her and wanted to clear the air.
They set up the meeting and had another person on the phoneline with us, when we eventually spoke, to help mediate the conversation, if need be.
What happened next would heal years of anxiety, anger and fear I’d been holding onto from my interactions with the forum leader.
When we spoke, the Landmark Forum leader I’d had was sincerely apologetic. She said that although she didn’t remember my particular forum, because she’d had some health issues around that time, she was sincerely sorry for the results her attitude and behaviors towards me had caused. I accepted her apology. The next thing she said was a surprise, though, and filled me with a deeper sense of healing. At the end of our conversation, she said that if I ever needed to talk about this experience again, she would gladly talk with me anytime.
There have been so many times in my life, when I tried to clear the air with someone I loved, that they’d say, “This is the last time we’re going to discuss this. I don’t want to hear about it again. It’s over!” This never felt good to me.
Hearing her say that she would gladly get on a call with me if I ever needed to talk about it again was like a salve to heal this old wound.
Cleaning up the past, confronting challenging experiences, clearing the air with people can feel so intimidating, scary, overwhelming and exhausting at times. What I think Landmark, and my sibling who encouraged me to clear things up with the forum leader, taught me, though, is that confronting things head on in a clear and open way can be very healing indeed.
In a short 10-20 minute conversation, years of grief, trauma and stress about my experience in the Landmark Forum melted away. And, it can take a lot of skill to have these types of conversations. That’s why, for me, learning healthy communication techniques like reflective listening, Non-Violent Communication, Family Parts Therapy language and other approaches has helped me be able to communicate more effectively to resolve conflict in my life and free myself and others from the past. It’s not about perfection, but a willingness to keep learning, growing and knowing, as well, when it may just be time to walk away from something that no longer fits your life in a good way anymore.
I’m truly grateful for the whole Landmark experience. And, it’s a lesson for me too that I don’t ever have to allow someone else to make me feel disempowered. That’s what caused all the anxiety for me in the first place. It wasn’t the forum leader, per se, but how I allowed her words and actions to control what I thought about myself, life and others. Now I know that I can stand up and speak up for myself in an empowering and respectful way, which I finally did all those years later on that phone call!
What skills do you need to hone to have healthier conversations to clear past conflicts?
How will you stand up for yourself when you need to? What’s that one skill you need to build to do this safely and in an empowering way?
Thanks for being here!
With Love and Aloha Nui Loa,