I’ve attended numerous personal growth workshops in my life and have typically enjoyed them. In fact, some of them have changed my life. This has been especially true if they were interactive or “experiential” workshops rather than primarily lecture-style.
As an effective workshop comes to an end, however, I’ve often noticed that a common topic of conversation centers around the difficulty of re-entering “the real world.” Some people also actually seem to feel ashamed for having needed the workshop, as if it is a second class place compared to the healthier “real world.”
I take exception to this. People gather for all sorts of reasons, whether it is to play sports or learn about gardening. When people join together to improve their lives it’s an interesting and legitimate activity. Ones experience at a workshop is as much a part of the real world as playing football…just a very good part of it.
We all want to be known and understood. Unfortunately, its difficult to make connections with others and share about the deeper aspects of our lives in the course of daily life. An interactive personal growth workshop–if it is skillfully designed and carried out–is a great place for that to happen. It can help us satisfy our yearning to be fully enjoyed for who we are. Also, people we meet in those situations are often like-minded people who make good friends. We may get lucky and come home with a new friend.
I encourage my clients to take part in a variety of growth producing experiences whenever they find them. I encourage them to choose carefully, because poorly run workshops can be hurtful, but I do encourage them to choose. We all need effective doses of healthy interpersonal interaction. And since many of our wounds in life are social in origin, it makes sense that part of the healing is going to be social also. That has become clear in recent years as we have grown to understand more about brain science.
One last point: experiential workshops help us to develop contact skills that make us more effective with opportunities we run into “back home.” Being skillful in cultivating relationships is important to our overall well-being and happiness. We all have to create a little bit of “workshop” in our daily lives to get along.