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Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog: Alpha Part 2

Marty's "Living life in chapters" A self development blog

Monday, October 02, 2006

Alpha Part 2


I've spent the last couple of hours trying to catch up on my homework for the counselling course I'm doing. It will be week 4 tomorrow and I was a journal and a half behind. I'm nearly up to date now and feel more comfortable having achieved a bit of quality time doing this.

Doing this training really gets you into thinking about awareness. This is something thats very clear to me right now. I've been feeling much much better about myself recently, but I still sometimes get that feeling of a little anxiety when waking in the morning. I guess I've pretty much always had this. Its difficult to understand the reasons for this. I wonder if I'd called out in my sleep again last night. Chris didn't mention it but I think I might have had some disturbing dreams... none that I can remember now. Still, I guess I just wanted to state this to "out" it from my consciousness.

I was chatting with a friend (with whom I'm on the counselling course this morning. The discussion was around self esteem. My friend told me about a workshop she went to that was to reject the concept of self esteem and to embrace self acceptance. I found this interesting. It seems to me that "self esteem" is some sort of target to achieve, which puts a degree of pressure on us, whereas self acceptance is a "being" feeling that generates comfort and peace. What do you think?

As promised, here is part 2 of my Alpha experience.....
from yesterday...

"She felt it would be right for me. I did have some recollection of something like this, so I said I would be interested."


Some months later, at the end of September, the course started. The first night was a meal in a community centre in Canterbury. By this time, I’d done a little research of my own about Alpha Courses and understood what it was about essentially an opportunity to explore my spiritual beliefs (for what they were). Arriving at the centre, I felt a touch nervous, not knowing many people. There were quite a few people there. Tables set out for a 3 course meal. I was invited to sit at a table and spotted a big friendly guy with a really happy smile, named Simon. I exchanged a few words with him and chatted with a few others. The meal ended and tables were moved away preparing for somebody to speak and give a testimony. Just after the talk, I was introduced to another guy, Peter and I got talking with him. I can remember telling him I wasn’t at all sure about believing in God. I said “It feels a bit like trying to believe in Father Christmas”. Peter smiled back and said “I think you are really going to enjoy this course” and how right he was!

I week or so later, I received a call to tell me that the next Alpha meeting would be a week night at someone’s house. Same format, however, this time it was meal, video followed by a discussion about the content. I was really looking forward to this. I was still deep in depression at the time but was beginning to make the first signs of progress and had even found myself a job in London.

And so it went on. Same format with a different video in the series each week. Nobody said grace at the table and wine was served with the meal. It just felt like any other dinner party on that level. I found I really got to know these folk very well indeed. Sitting round having a meal gave the sense of family. Relaxing with a coffee afterwards and having a chat stimulated my mind. In fact, I found the subject really interesting. Discussing the evidence like it was some kind of mystery facinated me. Everyone was respectful of each others views and it felt safe to discuss these issues of belief. Sometimes the subject would go off at a tangent. I was very focused on my experience of depression and spoke mostly about that. I felt validated because it was ok to do this. As the weeks went by we all became closer. Some folk dropped away and didn’t come again. I didn’t make it there every week myself. The food was excellent! As good as any restaurant and it was all free. I put on more than a few pounds in those weeks and was often persuaded into second helpings of desert. It became a standing joke that I’d finish the last bit of trifle or whatever.

One week mid way through, some folk decided they would go along to the church that organised this course and I decided to do so too. I was surprised how much I enjoyed that too. I sensed that something was changing in me. I felt a peace and acceptance with these new found friends. The pace of life felt better for me too.

About 3 quarters of the way through this course, a weekend away was organised. This took place in an isolated house near Chillenden, somewhere between Deal and Dover. It was a case of turning off the main road and going up a long track. This was a REAL place to chill out. It was so very peaceful. Friday evening consisted of a time sitting around and chatting. By now everyone was opening up about things in their lives. Some of us got quite emotional, but again, it just felt so safe to do this. By now we all really cared about each other. I shared a room with another guy. Simon, whom I mentioned earlier had brought down a few bottles of red wine, so we had a few glasses each evening. The guy I shared the room with also had a bottle and we chatted that Friday night until the early hours polishing off more wine. Saturday morning involved another family like breakfast.

We went for a pub lunch that Saturday lunchtime which involved a brisk, half mile walk in the mid autumn air. We were going to watch another video that evening, but discussion got quite intense. I spoke a lot about how angry and bitter I had been in the past about previous jobs and found myself shedding a few tears as a result. It was at this point that Peter suggested it was a time for prayer. This one moment was an experience I shall never forget. One of the helpers in the group (Peter’s son) played his guitar and the guys girlfriend sang a worship song. I had a kind of outer body experience. Peter was praying and laying hands on people over by the fire place and I suddenly felt an enormous sense of forgiveness. I felt God tell me that he had heard everything I had cried out about that day and told me it was OK. I felt a pure love in my heart. By the time it was my turn to be prayed for, I was wasted with tears pouring down my face.


self esteem
self acceptance
I'm not concerned with either


(13 total)

My vote is on the self acceptance side too. Seen way too many mates have self esteem but no self acceptance suffer so badly. I do believe you can't love another properly till you love yourself (and that doesn't mean narcissicsm or however it's spelled...) in fact there is a link between high self esteem and dangerous narcissicsmismism.... sometimes big words just trip me up. :)

Monday 2 October 2006 - 03:34PM (BST)

An interesting blog Marty. I'm torn as to which bit to address. Firstly self esteem and self acceptance. Guess they are one and the same - in order to enjoy self esteem there has to be self acceptance.I've written before about that painful hole in the soul which cannot be filled by anyone else other than ourselves, though we would beg, borrow or steal love from anyone in order to feel "loved" when the work is ours - the "esteeming" is ours to do for ourselves.

And I am struck by the way the Alpha course gave you the place of safety to talk to people about you - very much like a counselling experience - I wonder if the facilitators of such courses have any of those skills - I'm guessing they must come across all sorts of people with all kinds of "stuff" around - difficult to keep it all in a safe place - well contained and "held". It was obviously just what you needed at the time and you found your way with that experience...


Monday 2 October 2006 - 06:05PM (BST)

I am really pleased that you decided to share this Marty and I look forward to what I shall experience with the Alpha course I will be attending.

I had a similar experience to this when I was younger a project in our area called U-turn, there is a large playing field near me and the church in question held a big event thyat was on for 3 evenings there a huge marquee and all were welcome, me ad some friends went along for a laugh (there was nothing else to do!) But something really connected with me throughout the discussions and at the end was the opportunity to come forward to be prayed for. I really do believe God spoke to me and it changed my life. I started attending the church but didn't have the best of experiences, but as a 13 yr old girl I feel I wasn't taken seriously and I left. I've kinda lost my way since then and even decided at a point in my life that I didn't believe in god. However I feel like lately he has been finding me again and I am looking forward to the Alpha course and what it will bring me.

The self acceptance is something I feel at ease with, it has not always been so, but eventually it has come to pass and I have conquered that journey, the self esteem is another matter, I'm still on a difficult journey to find my self esteem, but I believe the self acceptance was the start of that journey, I have done things in my past I'm not particularly proud of and my recent self discovery has aloowed me to accept that it is past and has helped me make some life changing decisions....and it has to be said Marty that you have played such a huge part of all the changes in my life of late, knowing you and sharing some of life's experiences with you through my blog (and indeed sharing some of yours through your blog) has made a major impact on my life it truely has. The kindness of your words and the support you have given me has been tremendous it has lifted me more than anyone else's words although I am grateful to all my friends on here and their love and support. But with you Marty I feel it is different I feel a very strong connection to you and the things you say to me and share with me have had a very profound effect upon me, so thank you Marty, I am so very glad I found you here on 360 and I am honoured to be called your friend.

Gosh I really don't know where all that came from, I guess it just flooded out.
Maybe I should have written that all to you in a personal message and hope you didn't mind me voicing myself so publicly. My love to you Marty as always. Bless you.xxxx

Monday 2 October 2006 - 07:21PM (BST)

Self esteem versus self acceptance, I think in the past I have been more interested in being accepted and recieving the esteem of others and have therefore rather neglected what I thought about myself, due to this I guess my self esteem and self acceptance have been pretty much non existent. I guess my self esteem still is to a certain extent non existent but I am working on accepting myself for who and what I am the esteem will hopefully come from this eventually.
The alpha course notes are interesting, it may sound foolish I dont know but when you talk about a place and people where you can talk freely and let out your feelings, be yourself and vent your frustration and tears I cant help but think about my little group of friends here on 360 of which of course you yourself are a major part, I guess for the moment this group is acting as my own little alpha group where I am free to express and therefore discover myself.

Monday 2 October 2006 - 07:42PM (BST)

Marty, I havent lived the bestest of life, but I do accept me for who I am, therefore unashamed at what I have done in my life. Hopwever, my self esteem is low, coz when a man is down , there are those who take great delight in keeping him down[just take a look at John Howards latest employment contract laws].
But you sir, come across as having it all together, and I am wondering, no offence intended, how well you would have it together, if you removed the religious element from the equasion.......coz your belief in GOD certianly holds you in good stead.........

Monday 2 October 2006 - 12:57PM (PDT)

What can I say folks. Personally, when my friend spoke of self acceptance as opposed to self esteem, I realised that self acceptance it far more comfortably with me. It means I don't have to hit and maintain a target. I am ME.... warts and all and so is eveyone else. I love you folk so much and care about you all (within the strength I have that is limited)

Peter, bless you mate. I'm not religious and I believe religiosity is something different and carries labels. For me, there is a clear difference between being religous and having faith/knowing God. Its unexplainable and I don't expect anyone else to understand it. I just wish peace in others hearts... in what ever way.... that I have experienced it. I believe that comes from God, but that is my experience and I hope and pray others may feel the same.

Monday 2 October 2006 - 11:29PM (BST)

Hey Marty? Self acceptance? Thank you for your friendship??? Ruth? Hugss

Monday 2 October 2006 - 09:40PM (ADT)

I really don't think I have had a great deal of problems with either one.. I have always loved myself, knowing I was a good person and worthy of my own love, without it I know I would have not been able to deal with half the children I have dealt with, I had not always been so confident with my self esteem though.. does thta make sense, in how others viewed me and if I had measured up to their expectations.. A series of trial, and tribulations and even some wins and how I dealt with them all and more importantly to be able to go back and do a crictical self evaluation and kknow that through all I was still a pretty darn goo dperson fixed that.. but I think we all deal with both at a certain level in different stages in our lives.. Great post Marty!

Monday 2 October 2006 - 09:56PM (CDT)

Self-esteem is an interesting topic in that many people think that you can give someone self-esteem, when really self-esteem is not needing an external reward or "atta boy" to feel good about yourself. It's the difference between being in a hot air balloon with an on-board source of heat to keep the balloon afloat, and having to keep returning to the ground to get another uplifting blast. It doesn't seem to me that self-acceptance is a separate thing. As with any good thing, there are those who will turn it around and darken it, and it would seem to me that advocating self-acceptance might lead some people to get too comfortable with who and where they are and become lazy about growing and changing.

Monday 2 October 2006 - 11:55PM (EDT)

This brings to mind a poem I remember from High school(way back in 1972) I can not remember the author though

I am not in this world to live up to your expectations
Nor are you in this world to live up to mine
But if by chance that we should meet
then all will be wonderful.

Thanks to 360 world Ifind you in my friends and am grateful that you are. What a wonderful post Thank You

Tuesday 3 October 2006 - 01:12AM (CDT)

Pamela, Thank you for your comments here. I like your perspective on this subject. I can see where you are coming from regarding the danger of becoming lazy and maybe failing to grow and change.
Everyone, its great to get some different viewpoints. It helps to keep a balance on one theory or another. Mind you, like I've always said, if you sit on the fence to often, you get splinters on ya bum! LOL

Tuesday 3 October 2006 - 08:40AM (BST)

Marty, what an incredible post. The first time I did alpha I was a new Christian and I had a lot of questions. And it was such a great place to connect with other people and ask all those things that you dare not usually ask!
I answered self acceptance, although I'm a little confused at the difference. I guess before I had high self esteem/acceptance based on what the world thought of me and how good I was and clever I was a certain things. Now I realise all that is meaningless and it all really stems from the nature of my creator.
Steph. I was an alpha leader before and there were a few of us who were quite young and inexperienced. We didn't get any training, per se. We did meet a lot outside the main meetings for prayer and Q&A sessions. We were told to be "normal", open and loving and not to evangelize - because shy people may be intimidated and not ask questions for fear of being put in the spotlight. There were some very mature Christians in our group too and they were wonderful counsellors, by nature. Sometimes I felt God put words in my mouth coz I managed to answer questions that would've stumped me before.

Tuesday 3 October 2006 - 10:29AM (BST)

I think you can have self-acceptance without having self-esteem, but you cannot have self-esteem without self-acceptance.

Tuesday 3 October 2006 - 08:14AM (EDT)


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