When I arrived in Austin in 2009, I signed up for an improv class. I had been part of an amateur theatre group In the Netherlands. I played Konstanze in Mozart, Ophelia in Hamlet, and roles in many commedia dell’arte plays. Now I thought it would be fun to be on stage without a script.
After a few classes, I sign up for a student show called the Fancy Pants Mashup. Some 12 students put their name in a hat and are randomly matched to play a scene. As I write my name on a piece of paper and put it in the hat, Eric, one of the other players, comes over to say ‘hi’. We laugh, chit chat for a bit, and go into the theater.
The show begins and the MC pulls out two slips of paper from the hat and invites the actors to play a scene.
With a combination of excitement and anticipation, I listen for my name. My anxiety builds when others are called on stage and I am not. This show was a fun idea, but the more I think about it, the worse the idea seems. All the previous scenes were hilarious, funny, or moving. I fear that mine won’t be nearly as entertaining.
In the last round, the show master pulls out ‘Eric’.
Hum? Two Erics and no Elly?
“I haven’t played yet”, I whisper.
“No, your name is not in the hat. I have ‘Eric’.” He shows me the paper. Clearly, it is my handwriting.
I try to explain that I must have been distracted writing my name as I was talking to Eric. The show master’s eyes light up and he tells me to play a solo about this guy Eric.
Not by myself! My saboteur yells at me: “You’re not good enough to create a scene worth watching!” Etc, etc.
I am worried that on my own, my longing to be funny will get in the way of my spontaneity. But I can’t think of an escape, so I step into the spotlight. I am hoping that I won’t see the 49 pairs of audience eyes when I am blinded by the light.
I don’t even notice that Eric jumps up on stage and pantomimes what I say till I turn around. His wordless support boosts my confidence and our scene gets laughs, quiet, and applause.
He is an example of someone willing to help others shine and succeed in their goals.
Maybe you are a bit like me and make one of these mistakes around achieving your goals:
- Thinking you have to do it on your own
- Shaming yourself for not showing up the way you want
- Setting your standards too high
But what good does it do if you don’t ask for help when you need it?
When I realized that it was totally normal to get help to achieve my goals and values, I started to ask for help proactively. Self-worth issues became less relevant, my choices included more perspectives, and I felt more content with what I accomplished.
This happened to the participants of my first coaching group too. The emotional safety of the group helped them accept their shame, fear, and anger. They talked about what is truly important to them. And they found their authentic joy by working through inner obstacles and limiting beliefs.
In January I start a second group: the Authentic Joy Journey.
In 12 weeks you get six sessions with a group of people who are able to create a brave space, listen with empathy, and have enough resources to support you.
In each session, we work on a different theme:
1. Learning: failure applause, creative tension, and tiny habits
2. Needs: the three levels of needs and self-acceptance
3. Feelings: pseudo-feelings, anger, the messenger of needs
4. Emotional liberation: codependency, quality of the relationship, honesty & empathy
5. Self-worth: shame, self-compassion, and limiting beliefs
6. Autonomy: interdependence, requests, mourning & celebration, next steps
This is for you if you are willing to reflect on yourself, go beyond your comfort zone, and are excited to practice radical love.
If you are currently cutting corners, this helps you to trust that it is all there for you and that life is inviting you to go get it.
This is also for you if you can joyfully contribute $438 for the program.
This is not for you if you rather complain and expect others to take care of you.
It’s also not for you if you have too much stress in your life and won’t be able to listen with empathy to others.
I accept eight participants at most and have only five spots left.
Email me if you want to join and we’ll talk about whether this is a good fit for you.
P.S. Watch the video with Eric and me here.
P.P.S. I am appalled by what happened at the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6. I am intensifying my efforts to be an anti-racist, engage in difficult conversations, and stand up for my values of empathy, compassion, and mindfulness.
P.P.S. You can also visit this page to first get a feel for the group.