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User Topic: Venting my bad experience of a personal growth workshop
InnerLight
Member
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 9:33 PM, March 16th (Sunday)

I just attended a weekend personal development workshop that my sister highly recommended. She has done 3 from this small company and found them very inspiring and helpful. I had a bad experience and walked out.

First you were asked to write down what you were stuck on in your life. Then you made a piece of artwork with colored papers, stickers, markers and asked to stand up in front of everyone to share it.

I got in touch with some really sad feelings around feeling disconnected from community. Part of this stems from past traumatic experiences including the PTSD after infidelity/divorce etc.

Then you were asked to write down all your rational reasons why you were stuck in this area.
You were put into a group of 3 and told to share you reasons, and the other people were to challenge your reasons and tell you why your reasons are bullshit. I felt bad doing this exercise as it felt like I was with 2 people who had been instructed to behave like assholes and they did their job well and told me my reasons were full of crap. It felt very minimizing and disparaging. I think it was meant to show that we defend our reasons for feeling stuck, but it really just felt like these people were non-empathic and rude. It also felt like I was with people who would behave poorly if the leader told them too. ie. No one I want to be with.

Then we broke for lunch and I was still stunned by how bad the exercise felt so I went to the bathroom then looked for lunch companions but everyone has already left. I asked the one last person I saw but he declined. It turned out he had no intention of returning.

I had shared my sorrow about how I felt disconnected from my community and when I came back from lunch the instructor asked who I had lunch with and when I said I ate alone she said, 'Well isn't that a surprise!' Like she is cleverly pointing out that in my stuckness I am recreating the same experience of being disconnected. It felt pretty bad, like she was taking advantage of me sharing my vulnerability and throwing it back in my face in an uncaring way.

Later she commented on my behavior in the class in front of the group, how I had arrived in the morning too late to socialize but just in time for the class to start. See how I hold myself separate and then complain that I feel separate? Then she observed that I moved my chair back from the group and set myself apart physically. When I said I did it because I couldn't see (the person in the seat in front of me was very large) and had to move in order to see, she said that we all have our reasons that we are attached to. Again, very dismissive.

This all created for me a really unsafe environment. I felt really terrible that first day. I hardly slept at all that night.

I let her know the next morning that I was not having a good experience. She explained that my stuff is coming up and it's good to look at it and I said I am aware of groups that use this kind of psychological information to manipulate people. She said that was not her intention and I said that I don't really know that. I don't have the trust. Personally I really feel it is the job of the group leader to create an atmosphere of trust if people are asked to bring up their traumatic experiences and she didn't do that at all.

This morning the exercise was a group meditation on an old childhood experience when we first felt the uncomfortable feelings related to our stuckness we were working on. This led back to an early childhood trauma for me, and one that I have worked on many times in therapy using a variety of techniques but it is still really disturbing to meditate on it and how rotten it felt to be physically assaulted by my father.

So here it was the second day, and I am just feeling rotten in this 'meditation' and I just don't see the point. At the first break I walked up to the teacher and shook her hand and said thank you but this is not doing anything good for me. She wanted me to stay for the afternoon when all the difficult stuff gets transformed into a vision of positive things but I had no trust that she would be able to lead me to anything better. I don't think you can create a meaningful vision in an environment of distrust and she had done so little to earn my trust.

So I drove home. I am really disappointed. I had high hopes for moving forward from some of my stuck areas. I was as engaged and participatory as I could be and gave it a fair shake until I realized it was unhealthy to be there. This was a really depressing experience and I feel angry about the waste of time and energy. My sister paid for it and I think I will ask for a refund.


[This message edited by InnerLight at 9:34 PM, March 16th (Sunday)]


BS, age 53, d-day 6-2-08, divorced after 17 years and 20 together. dating again, living in the sticks with a cat. It's taking a long time to create new dreams and a new life but it is slowly coming together.

Posts: 5812 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
sheila0304
Member
Member # 25041
Default  Posted: 9:42 PM, March 16th (Sunday)

I'm so sorry. that just sucks!

((Innerlight))


Posts: 1171 | Registered: Aug 2009
MyVoice
Member
Member # 35695
Default  Posted: 9:48 PM, March 16th (Sunday)

I wouldn't be feeling bad.

I think acknowledging it as a bad environment for you personally, and having the self confidence to stand up and do somthing about it, is a very good place to be xx


Me:BW 46, Him:WH 50
two kids DD14 and DS17
Married 26 years
OW 28, crew member (he was the ships captain)
"People are formed by their actions, not their ideals" unknown

Posts: 470 | Registered: May 2012 | From: Australia
Williesmom
Member
Member # 22870
Default  Posted: 9:49 PM, March 16th (Sunday)

It's awful for you.

I'm so sorry. You stuck it out longer than I would have.


You can stuff your sorries in a sack, mister. -George Costanza
There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women. - Madeleine Albright

Posts: 7635 | Registered: Feb 2009 | From: Western PA
FaithFool
Member
Member # 20150
Default  Posted: 10:59 PM, March 16th (Sunday)

Ugh! (((IL))) I would have been very uncomfortable as well.


DDay: June 15, 2008
Mistakenly married Mr. Superfreak
20 years of OWs, WTF?
Divorced Dec 26, 2011
"Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget
to sing in the lifeboats". -- Voltaire

Posts: 17381 | Registered: Jul 2008 | From: Canada
Leia
Member
Member # 42510
Default  Posted: 11:24 PM, March 16th (Sunday)

So sorry you had that experience. The couple of seminars I've attended, the leader asked people to share only if they were comfortable, and tried to create a comfortable environment. Kudos to you for walking out.


"Somebody get this walking carpet out of my way." Princess Leia, Star Wars

Posts: 296 | Registered: Feb 2014 | From: Kansas
BAB61
Member
Member # 41181
Default  Posted: 11:59 PM, March 16th (Sunday)

I'm glad you walked out! That was YOU being in control of your life! The 'leader' of that workshop was either poorly trained and/or a complete ass!


Boss A** B*tch
BS/52 Me, STBXpos/56, dd's 16&14
1st D-day 10/19/2013 EA/PA
2nd D-day 12/7/2013 LTA/Rendezvous
S 12/7/2013 No-fault state, 6 mo S, counting down the days.

Posts: 1271 | Registered: Oct 2013 | From: DE
Threnody
Member
Member # 1558
Default  Posted: 12:12 AM, March 17th (Monday)

I agree with the others. Your standing up for yourself is proof that you don't wish to remain stuck, that you're actively engaged in the quest to find a healthy life for yourself.

I'm sorry you had such a poor experience. Perhaps instead of a workshop, you could read a book or two which use different methods, like journaling or art, to help you work through these emotions? Then when you feel ready, try another social workshop. It might just have been too soon for the social aspect of it.

Sending warm hugs.


“If you don't like my opinion of you, you can always improve.” ~ Ashleigh Brilliant
"Great love requires determination." ~ tryingtwo
"Don't try to win over the haters, you're not the jackass whisperer." ~ Brene Brown

Posts: 14040 | Registered: Jun 2003 | From: Middle-of-Diddly, TX
Sad in AZ
Member
Member # 24239
Default  Posted: 6:47 AM, March 17th (Monday)

You should feel proud of yourself; as the others said, you stood up for yourself, expressed your feeling eloquently and left with dignity. I would have told them to kiss my ass.

You are an amazing woman, IL


I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.

Posts: 20141 | Registered: Jun 2009 | From: Upstate NY
better4me
Member
Member # 30341
Default  Posted: 9:45 AM, March 17th (Monday)

It galls me that people get paid to do this to (not with) people. How unethical and "anti personal growth" to call you out like that, commenting on your behavior without knowing the details! People like this give "personal development workshop" a bad name.

Glad you had the chutzpah to leave. You showed a lot of strength by being assertive and telling the leader your reasons for leaving, instead of just leaving without saying anything. Definitely ask for the refund!


DDay 11/17/2010 BW:52
Divorced

Posts: 3122 | Registered: Dec 2010 | From: Iowa
nowiknow23
Guide
Member # 33226
Default  Posted: 9:48 AM, March 17th (Monday)

(((((InnerLight)))))


You can call me NIK

"Sometimes it takes a good fall to know where you really stand."
-Hayley Williams


Posts: 25258 | Registered: Aug 2011
InnerLight
Member
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 10:45 AM, March 17th (Monday)

Thank you for acknowledging the strength it took to talk to the leader and leave. I have stayed too long in the past in bad workshops and learned the hard way that it lengthens the recovery time to suppress that urge to run. But I hate not finishing things, so it is really hard for me to leave in these situations.

I find myself googling the company that put this on, not finding anything but glowing testimonies. It is a small company but I think that the founder came out of EST and started this in the 1980s. I could be wrong, but in his bio he said he was a trainer in a nationally recognized seminar course. Why not include the name of this illustrious past unless it was controversial like EST was?

I hate mindfuckery. I hate being in the presence of mindfuckery. I hate watching others being mindfucked. I know some people find use in having some psychology pointed out to them. Lord knows we all need more awareness and insight and consciousness. But it is such a fine line between when this is conveyed in a healthy way, and when it is used as a tool to gain power over with little real respect for the individual. I hope my sister is safe as she continues to take workshops here. She has had wonderful experiences but it sure hit me the wrong way.


BS, age 53, d-day 6-2-08, divorced after 17 years and 20 together. dating again, living in the sticks with a cat. It's taking a long time to create new dreams and a new life but it is slowly coming together.

Posts: 5812 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
Oh the Irony
Member
Member # 12354
Default  Posted: 10:54 AM, March 17th (Monday)

Yup. I was going to post that it sounds like Large Group AWarenss Training. I see it as a cult. I've seen friends get sucked in by it and spend thousand and thousands that they didn't have to get to the next level.

Dr. Phil got into this for awhile.

I don't consider it kind. Not something I want to be a part of. It totally ignores the reality of oppression or trauma.

There would have been calls for you to recruit people.


Two gorgeous boys, 14 and 8.
D-day Sept. 15, 2006.
Me, BS 43
Him, WS 50
Her, OG (Guess she is 27 or 28 now! 19-21 at the time...)
Separated. Divorcing. Happily working on myself.

Posts: 735 | Registered: Oct 2006 | From: thankful for truth
InnerLight
Member
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 10:55 AM, March 17th (Monday)

One major thing I have learned from bad group experiences is to know that in a group setting the instructor's agenda is not to take care of you as an individual. The instructor's agenda is to move the whole group forward. Individual work in a group is really only partly focused on the individual, it is geared to making a point for the whole group. This places an individual trying to process deeply in a group in an unfortunate position, but it is just the dynamics of groups. I think that group work can be very healing and affirming and I have had good experiences, but it is really important for anyone doing group work of any kind that individuals are going to be sacrificed for the functioning of the whole, however the group leader defines 'functioning'.

Also, members of a group want to follow the instructions of the group leader, naturally want the group to be successful so they can be part of a successful group, so if the group leader says to behave badly many very nice people who normally would not behave badly will unthinkingly behave badly because the authority figure said to do it. This is another way that the individual is at a disadvantage.

Being aware of these two dynamics and pitfalls of groups is part of what gave me the strength to walk out of a bad situation. Unfortunately I have had to learn the hard way to have this awareness.

If you are involved in therapy groups, please be aware of these two things to keep yourself safe!


BS, age 53, d-day 6-2-08, divorced after 17 years and 20 together. dating again, living in the sticks with a cat. It's taking a long time to create new dreams and a new life but it is slowly coming together.

Posts: 5812 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
InnerLight
Member
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 10:59 AM, March 17th (Monday)

I think Landmark, that used to be EST, is under the umbrella of Large Group Awareness Training. I do think this group was a smaller milder version of this sort of thing. I also think negative group dynamics can happen in professional therapy trainings, in small group therapy groups, in church and school groups, in sports teams....

There was only 15 people in this group and there was no effort at recruitment. The only sales part was a 5-10 minute description of other workshops and classes offered which is normal for any business.

[This message edited by InnerLight at 11:07 AM, March 17th (Monday)]


BS, age 53, d-day 6-2-08, divorced after 17 years and 20 together. dating again, living in the sticks with a cat. It's taking a long time to create new dreams and a new life but it is slowly coming together.

Posts: 5812 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
MovingUpward
Guide
Member # 14866
Default  Posted: 11:09 AM, March 17th (Monday)

(((InnerLight)))

I am proud that you were seeing things as they were and how that was not going to work for you. Too bad this seminar wasn't in Houston for you could have joined a bunch of us from SI being in community.


AKA Moo

Think of the haters in your life as sandpaper; they’ll scratch you up time and time again but in the end you’re polished, smooth, and spotless..while they end up useless

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.


Posts: 52112 | Registered: Jun 2007 | From: Big Blue Nation
InnerLight
Member
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 6:41 PM, March 17th (Monday)

Thanks Moo.

I am finding myself feeling really tired and kind of depressed today.


BS, age 53, d-day 6-2-08, divorced after 17 years and 20 together. dating again, living in the sticks with a cat. It's taking a long time to create new dreams and a new life but it is slowly coming together.

Posts: 5812 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
What2Do76
Member
Member # 30349
Default  Posted: 7:31 PM, March 17th (Monday)

What an awful instructor!
She showed no empathy whatsoever when you expressed how you felt, and the activity where others are to challenge why you are stuck sounds poorly conceived. Good for you for leaving.


D-Day 11/20/10
Love Is Not Constantly Wondering If You Are Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life

Posts: 379 | Registered: Dec 2010 | From: Ontario
MovingUpward
Guide
Member # 14866
Default  Posted: 8:50 AM, March 18th (Tuesday)

(((InnerLight)))


AKA Moo

Think of the haters in your life as sandpaper; they’ll scratch you up time and time again but in the end you’re polished, smooth, and spotless..while they end up useless

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.


Posts: 52112 | Registered: Jun 2007 | From: Big Blue Nation
wildbananas
Member
Member # 10552
Default  Posted: 8:57 AM, March 18th (Tuesday)

That sounds completely counterproductive to the desired result. How awful.

I'm glad you were strong enough to leave when you realized it was doing more harm than good. That's a huge sign of strength.

(((IL)))


Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light. ~ Yogi Bhajan

Posts: 15391 | Registered: Apr 2006 | From: Now an AZ girl
InnerLight
Member
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 2:16 PM, March 18th (Tuesday)

This morning I had some suicidal thoughts - not real actionable thoughts so don't worry - it's just that I felt so bad I wanted not to exist. I did some personal exercises and journaling, I went to yoga, but what I really need to hear was affirmation from another human so I called a dear friend who knows me well who is a longtime psychotherapist working with people with trauma. She was so supportive and affirming. We had a lively discussion about what happened, about the work she does with trauma survivors, and I shared about the work I do with clients who have experienced trauma. We discussed the workshop from many angles and it was immensely helpful.

Even though I knew to trust my gut on the 'off-ness' of this workshop, and I spoke to the leader and left to take care of myself, I still felt like the weird one in the room, and the outcast that doesn't fit, all while having old traumas stirred up. So alienating! It was really important for me to get affirmation. Thanks all of you for the support you provided me and how you kept saying that you were proud of me for standing up for myself. I really needed to hear that. You've helped, my SO helped on Sunday, my friend helped today. I hope I can start to feel a bit more normal from here on out.


BS, age 53, d-day 6-2-08, divorced after 17 years and 20 together. dating again, living in the sticks with a cat. It's taking a long time to create new dreams and a new life but it is slowly coming together.

Posts: 5812 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
InnerLight
Member
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 9:23 PM, March 24th (Monday)

I just wanted to update to say that I sent an email request for a complete refund and got a swift response that yes they will reverse the credit card charge. They didn't respond to my description of what happened other than to say our workshops are not for everyone but thank you for the feedback.

It took me about 3 days after this class to feel normal again rather than really depressed.

I am feeling good now, and glad for the refund. I hope to put this experience to bed.


BS, age 53, d-day 6-2-08, divorced after 17 years and 20 together. dating again, living in the sticks with a cat. It's taking a long time to create new dreams and a new life but it is slowly coming together.

Posts: 5812 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
FaithFool
Member
Member # 20150
Default  Posted: 12:14 AM, March 25th (Tuesday)

(((IL)))


DDay: June 15, 2008
Mistakenly married Mr. Superfreak
20 years of OWs, WTF?
Divorced Dec 26, 2011
"Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget
to sing in the lifeboats". -- Voltaire

Posts: 17381 | Registered: Jul 2008 | From: Canada
tabitha95
Member
Member # 22033
Default  Posted: 12:22 AM, March 25th (Tuesday)

I still felt like the weird one in the room, and the outcast that doesn't fit

They are easily influenced lemmings. It's just like high school....the different person gets bullied. No one wants to stand up and question authority when you will be picked on and dismissed.

In the real world the individual adds enlightenment to others. Groups aren't creative, individuals are.


BW (me) - 45
DS 14, DS 11
D-Day#1: Oct 30, 2008
D-Day#2: June 3, 2011 (same MOW) Separation: June 3, 2011
Divorce finalized: Feb 2012 (due to 6 month waiting period).

Posts: 3250 | Registered: Dec 2008
absolut
Member
Member # 37933
Default  Posted: 1:11 AM, March 25th (Tuesday)

Inner Light,

I'm glad you posted about this. Don't be hard on yourself. I'm glad you left. I'm glad you got your refund.

Don't kid yourself, it is a cult. Lots of cults are more new age-y, probably just as many as fundamentalist bible based cults. Probably more. Berating someone or humiliating someone for their personal growth is trademark cult. (I think it was a big tactic used by Jim Jones). And you were only there for two days!!!

I don't like posting about my life but I grew up in a cult that my parents joined in their early 20's. The constant non-stop emphasis on "self-examination" and "growth" other ridiculous navel-gazing to the point of insanity would really start to make me feel like I was going to lose my mind some days. It was considered totally acceptable to pick someone apart in the most bullying way as long as it could be couched in silly pop psychology terms. Looking back now I can almost laugh at some of it because its all so absurd (like your example of when you arrived. wtf?) My own parents wouldn't stand up for me because this kind of treatment was considered good, not bad. It was like crazytown oppositeland. Needless to say we're pretty close to estranged.

And just to be clear there is no goal to "help the group" it's all either about money or someone who enjoys flexing their power over others because of some personality disorder.

When I was 17 I left. When I was 18 I started a job at a strip club after a rent check bounced. I was so happy just to live a life where I could work, buy things I wanted, go out when I wanted and not think all these crazy thoughts about my motives behind it all. I just did what I wanted to do. I didn't have to wring my hands and introspect about why I bought an eyeshadow I didn't really need but just wanted, or told my friend Chloe I wasn't feeling well when the truth was I just didn't feel like going out.
I still talk to my parents on the phone sometimes but I don't see them. In all honesty, I let their calls go through to VM about 80% of the time because I just have no respect for them, and I hate talking to them, and it puts me in a bad mood. I don't know what I'm going to do when I have children in regards to if they can have a relationship there. I've brought it up with my therapist.

To clarify, these weekend growth seminar things are recruiting for the cult. They will retain a certain percentage of attendees who are interested in finding out more and attending more events and eventually wind up all in.

And also, IL, anyone who finds that kind of thing an awesome experience is a total idiot. But I suspect those testimonials are fake. You know, it's just the internet....

You are an intelligent woman.


Posts: 421 | Registered: Dec 2012
InnerLight
Member
Member # 19946
Default  Posted: 12:15 AM, March 26th (Wednesday)

It was considered totally acceptable to pick someone apart in the most bullying way as long as it could be couched in silly pop psychology terms.

This is what was happening and it was hard to believe there wasn't a bigger exodus than one guy at the first lunch break and me the 2nd morning break.

Absolut - what an amazing story of your childhood in a cult-like environment. I am glad you were able to separate and become your full person, but I am sorry for the estrangement from your parents. ((((absolut)))


BS, age 53, d-day 6-2-08, divorced after 17 years and 20 together. dating again, living in the sticks with a cat. It's taking a long time to create new dreams and a new life but it is slowly coming together.

Posts: 5812 | Registered: Jun 2008 | From: Rural California
absolut
Member
Member # 37933
Default  Posted: 11:14 PM, March 26th (Wednesday)

Thanks IL I appreciate it. I'm glad you are feeling better.

I am sending you a PM


Posts: 421 | Registered: Dec 2012
Topic Posts: 27