I was in capital a couple of weeks ago to facilitate a workshop with an NGO and had called for an Ola Share while getting from Noida to Delhi. It was the week the rain gods had graced the city with their presence. Now for someone who hails from the coast and has experienced monsoons very differently, i.e has been through a deluge, faced the brunt of frequent flooding and is used to watching sheets of water just fall out of the skies, rains in Delhi seem like a misnomer.
Because what I had witnessed was nothing more than a mugful of water trickling from the sky.
But that is not the point.
The point is that that mugful of water caused me to take three hours to traverse what was otherwise meant to be a 50 minute ride!
Despite it being an Ola Share, besides the one co-passenger who had long since gotten off, it was just the driver and me in the cab. After over an hour of us sitting in silence since I first got into his cab, he broke the ice, saying:
“At this rate you’re not going to reach your destination until evening, Madamji.”
“Arre! Please don’t say such things. I’m just about succeeding at calming my nerves on being stuck like this when it’s not even raining.”
“Well, for people like us this is an everyday ordeal. I’ve been stuck in traffic like this since morning.”
“That is exactly what I have been thinking too. Having to go through this on an everyday basis cannot be easy for you.”
“What can be done? It’s just that we don’t have the words to express what we go through.”
“We don’t have the words to express” — Something about those words reverberated on the inside.
Exactly this time last year on the 9th of July 2016, I ran my first ever workshop of Be You For You.
An introvert by nature, emptying my head, heart and soul on paper had been a very natural phenomenon. But it hadn’t only been limited to emptying myself out. Writing had helped me make breakthroughs as well as make peace with otherwise challenging if not tumultuous issues.
I often wondered how and why this had been possible; until it occurred to me that writing is non-intrusive and non-invasive and employed with the right outlook (which I had on multiple occasions equipped myself with through training) can lend itself to enabling powerful mental makeovers!
And this was something I felt passionately about.
Why my own travels had begun to leave me with soul-stirring thoughts because I would always come back and write about them on my blog.
So draft after draft of concept notes later, I felt courageous to not only share my idea of Be You For You with the world but also pilot it and watch it take form for the first time before my very eyes in July last year.
At the root, was firm the goal of encouraging and galvanizing people to begin expressing themselves. To themselves, first.
And that’s why that conversation with the cabbie struck a chord.
How often do we pause to consider its relevance and importance?
In my observation, seldom, if ever…
From the very moment our senses have awakened with us in the morning to the moment they finally shutdown, we are constantly communicating with ourselves. In other words, we are telling ourselves stories – stories about how our day is going to be, stories about what we thought of the relative we bumped into at the mall, stories about why we’re dreading a particular meeting…
In short, stories about everything that is, that has been and that will be…
Is it not strange then, that for all the books and training programs being made available on interpersonal communication i.e. the process of interacting with other people, there is not enough material on intrapersonal communication i.e. the process of engaging with ourselves?
In the past year, I have had the opportunity of being a part of this intrapersonal journey with those curious and motivated to express themselves better. The feedback has been more than just encouraging and at a scale much bigger than I had fathomed about a year ago!
Participants leaving the workshop have had the following things to say:
“This workshop has definitely led to a shift in my thinking process. It has provided me with a lot of insights and tools to help me touch base with my core.”
“I’m leaving the workshop with a great set of tools to help me navigate my place in the world and the belief that I can be in control of how (and what) I think and feel”
“This has led to more self-awareness, more ways to be expressive. Definitely a lot more insight into myself.”
“It’s going to help me get into the habit of looking inwards and taking better care of myself using the tools suggested.”
“This experience has brought a lot of wisdom and positivity for me and the inspiration to express myself through writing a little more often.”
“I feel a lot more confident about being me and penning my thoughts down”
“I am leaving the workshop with a big to-do list and a slightly clearer mind. I am learning that it is okay to be self-compassionate.”
“I find that I have stumbled upon a medium to disconnect and reconnect with myself.”
But that is not all.
Every once in a while, I receive texts informing me on how someone has been implementing a writing technique that was introduced to them for the first time at a Be You For You workshop.
Every once in a while, someone will share a piece of expression they have created for the very first time in their life and they attribute the nudge to a Be You For You workshop.
Occasionally, someone will express how they are getting better at understanding themselves and therefore better at managing their own interpersonal relationships because they have been articulating themselves out since attending a Be You For You workshop.
Some have gone on to making journaling a regular practice. Others have revived their blogs. Still others have reintroduced crayons and colours back into their lives.
It is heart-warming every single time.
Heart-warming because almost every one of them prior to attending a workshop spoke of how they:
i) didn’t know how to write
ii) didn’t like writing
iii) didn’t think they were creative enough
iv) didn’t have a good enough vocabulary
v) didn’t know English that well
And yet… Look at the strides they have been taking since.
P.S.: As these aren’t creative writing workshops, none of the above mentioned excuses are even valid in the first place! If anything, participants are encouraged to create new vocabulary and better still doodle because the focus is on expression.
What is true for individuals is true for organizations too – be it for-profit or not-for-profit. Self-expression is not only relegated to the realm of personal development. It is as much as part and parcel of organizations as their workforce communicates with its different stakeholders, sharing with them the collective story of the organization itself.
And Be You For You has begun to make inroads in working with organizations too.
But Be You For You wasn’t meant to be just one workshop. If anything, the journey so far for both participants as well as for me has only been Step 1!
And what better occasion to take this forward than the day of its first anniversary…
On Saturday, 8th July 2017, a bunch of folks who’ve attended the Be You For You workshops during the past year, signed up and attended an advanced level of the workshop – Be A Better You For You!
Because if ‘with great power comes great responsibility’, then with better self-expression comes enhanced self-awareness.
This past year has been a journey of a different kind. A journey of tapping into my entrepreneurial side. A journey of travelling within and encouraging others to embark on…
A journey that would not have been made possible were it not for the support and encouragement I’ve constantly received from a bunch of folks – in the guise of offering space to run my workshops, recommending friends to attend, being strong advocates and sharing the event notification via every known platform, putting me in touch with other folks who can help me take this workshop to other cities, advocating for the workshop within their workspaces… the support has been tremendous and humbling.
But this is only just the start…