A few weeks a go, I got a call from my friend Samsam. He was at the pool-side on a beautiful Sunday and he was going on and on about something called The Landmark Forum. Now, I’m a fairly suspicious person, so while he went on and on, I hmmm-ed absent-mindedly and waited for the catch. There’s always a catch. This time, it was the price : 13,000/=. I brushed him off with a vague response, but as soon as the call ended, I Googled Landmark. The results were not reassuring.

Samsam is a stand-up sort of guy, and I trust his judgement. He’s an interesting mix of quirky and sensible, so whenever I need advice or a good laugh, he’s the one I call. We’ve spoken a lot over the last few weeks because I’ve been dealing with some heavy personal issues, and the conversation always came back to Landmark.

At some point, I got convinced that it would actually be a good idea to attend, but I was broke. Samsam suggested I try raising the deposit first, and I said yes, just to shut him up. Five minutes later, I received an unexpected payment that was the exact amount of the deposit. Ooooookaaaaaay. In the next three days, I raised borrowed the rest of the forum fee and took a day off work. While filling the registration forms, I panicked because it suddenly seemed like more than I could handle. But I was sure this was something I needed, so despite being terrified and worried, I showed up at The Heron on Friday.

When I signed up for Landmark, I thought it was a self-help course. It’s not. It’s about getting life to work. Not just my life, but everyone else’s lives as well. In the week before the forum, I’d made a list of all the areas in my life where I needed to fix stuff. Then I realized the forum would only last three days, so I started crossing off issues until I was left with my most urgent need – how to make more money. So I walked into that room on Friday expecting quick and sensible get-rich scheme.

For the first few minutes, I was incredibly sceptical. I mean, I know I’m a barbie and everything, but I kept thinking Kenyans don’t go to motivational seminars! That’s stuff you see on TV. I shook my head and wondered what I was doing there. I was especially miffed when I was told I couldn’t take notes. I mean, note-taking is my thing!! How would I remember anything without writing it down? Besides, I have the attention span of a beetle. If anyone talks for more than two minutes, I zone out. It’s why I can’t handle groupwork or audio books. It’s also why I scribble a lot during meetings. I’m not taking minutes – I’m trying to stay awake.

Within minutes, I was paying rapt attention to the forum leader. He explained that the forum would be different at different points, saying sometimes we’d be excited, other times we’d be bored, other times we’d be trying to punch through walls. And he was right. Several times during the forum I wanted to run out screaming and never come back. Other times I wanted to dance around the room hugging everybody. Every evening when I left the forum to go home, I was so lost and confused that I was sure I wouldn’t come back the next day. But in the morning something would always happen to tip me over and I’d show up.

For me, there were three key points in the forum. Firstly, we complicate life an awful lot, but it’s basically made up of two things – the stuff that happens and the way we interpret the stuff that happens. No event can make you unhappy. Only your interpretation of the event can do that. For example, if an expensive glass drops and breaks, that’s not sad. But if a glass falls and I start thinking I’ll get in trouble over it, then I click into panic mode and end up depressed. It’s not the broken glass that made me sad – it’s how I translated it.

Secondly, human nature exists in two gears. We either complain about stuff, or we look for answers. If we find the answer we’ll probably turn around and complain about something else. Whatever you’re doing in life, you’re either complaining about a situation, or you’re trying to figure out how to resolve it. Granted we have thoughts and feelings and emotions, but we simply use them to interpret what has happened, complain about it, then look for a solution. It’s an endless and sometimes joyless cycle.

In my own life, I imagine that I have all these problems. Things like never having enough money [no matter how much of it I actually have], trying to raise my daughter right in a crazy world, struggling to meet all my responsibilities and on and on and on. I realized a while back that my whole life is about feeling I’m not good enough, trying to prove that I am, and then convincing myself that I’m not and starting all over again. I didn’t know why I felt that way. I figured it’s just the way I am.

At the forum, I had a tense first day as we talked about life and family and relationships. The reason I feel unworthy of love, friendship, money, wealth, comfort, happiness is that I had convinced myself that my parents didn’t love me. I mean, if your own parents don’t want you, then who can? I built that into rackets like I’m unlove-able, I’ll never find anyone to love me, I’m not worth anything, I’ll never get anywhere in life, I’m a failure. It made me get into relationships, situations, and even jobs that reinforced how unloved and unworthy I felt, and I’ve done a lot of stupid things because of it.

The forum solution was to admit they love me, then call them and apologize for being a spoilt brat my whole life. Once I discovered that, I got upset. After all, I had all this proof of how my parents didn’t love me, right? They did this and that and that. And what about all my exes? They did this and this and this. It’s obvious that I’m unlove-able, and if anyone pretends to love me, it’s because they want something. Duh!

But as part of the forum activities, I called my parents. I told them I realized they do love me even though I don’t necessarily feel that way. They may not show their love in a way that I recognize, but they gave me life, took me to school, fed and clothed me, that’s called love. I may not always agree with their will for me, but I acknowlegde that they want the best for me. They want me to be happy. So I called them and apologized for all the anger and resentment I’ve been carrying around. I thanked them for loving me, for being my parents.

I expected the confession to have a dramatic effect on my life, but I didn’t feel any different, and I said so at the forum. David Ure – the forum leader – explained it was because I didn’t think my call made any difference. The second he said that, I realized that I use that phrase at least five times a day. I tell myself not to do or say certain things because I’m convinced that nothing I do makes any difference! It’s kept a lot of doors closed in my life. The next day I started doing things even though I thought it ‘wouldn’t make a difference’. By the end of the day, I had gotten a deal that will now earn me an extra 15,000 every month, so yay! All because I made a simple phone call that ‘wouldn’t make any difference’.

I had explained to my daughter that I would be in class all weekend, and on the first night, she woke up to ‘check my homework’ just like I do with her every weekday. On Saturday morning, I woke up to shower and she got out of bed and said she’d fix my breakfast and pack my lunch while I showered, just like I do for her every weekday. These are things I thought made no difference, and I was immensely touched to see that they really did. I spend a lot of time feeling like I’m not a good mother, but after Saturday morning, I’ll never doubt it again. I’m doing okay. In fact, I’m doing fabulous.

I’ve been on a mental  journey the past few weeks, reading Approval Addiction and Conversations with God and reviewing my lessons from Manifesting Change. Yes, I’m New Age. Sort of. There’s been such a difference in me that my princess asked me why I’m in such a good mood. She’s convinced I got a raise or something. Anyway, all my readings said if I wanted to do or be something, all I had to do was pull a Nike and just do it.  Act as if. Fake it till you make it. Even The Secret says if I want to be rich, all I have to do is act like I’m rich, believe it, visualize it, give thanks for it, then sit back and wait for it to happen. It just didn’t tell me how, and that’s immensely annoying. It’s like those people who say ‘When you’re sad, just stop feeling sad and feel awesome instead.’ Where’s the instruction manual?

At the Landmark Forum I learnt how to make things happen. I need to be authentic, choose integrity, and be my word. Here’s how it works. Every time I say I’ll do something, I should make sure I do it. If I keep my promises – all my promises – whether I feel like it ot not – then my word means something and I become my word. If my word can be trusted, then it becomes powerful because whenever I say something, I do it. Whenever I say something, it happens. Then all my ‘wishes’ can come true when I say them! It’s not an easy way to live, but it does work. I promised to make a phone call and I did, even though I didn’t think it would make any difference. That call brought me 15K just like that! Think what other opportunities I could get by simply doing what I said I would do. Anything is possible!

I worry a lot about being late for work, and I wondered why it bothered me so much. After all, I get to the office before everyone else, most days I make it on time, and the few times that I don’t, I’m only ever a few minutes late. Plus, I have a good reason – I have to walk my baby to school!

Here’s the part I didn’t say. I didn’t say I worry so much about being late that every morning, I whine, snap, and argue about how we should hurry up or else! What should be a beautiful bonding process ends up being a trial for both of us. By the time we’re leaving the house, we’re ready to punch each other. Most times we calm down as we walk, I apologize, and we end up giggly and happy by the time I kiss her goodbye at the school gate. Once in a while, she stays mad and the teacher calls to ask why she’s so moody. I don’t get to work on time on purpose. It’s just an accidental routine  that often leaves me pissed off and resentful at everyone from my baby girl to the makanga. I constantly threaten that if she’s not ready in time I’ll leave her behind, even though I know I never will.

After the forum, I sat my baby down. I said I didn’t like the way we fight every morning, and that if we wanted to be early so I could get to work on time, we just had to wake up ten minutes earlier. We agreed that if she wasn’t ready by a certain time, I was free to leave without her, and this time, it wasn’t an empty whiny threat; it was a promise. After all, the school is only ten minutes away, so she can walk on her own quite easily.

I was sure she would be whiny about getting up earlier, but she was so excited she said we should try for fifteen minutes instead, and this morning, for the first time in almost a year, we had fun getting ready for school. On the outside, nothing has changed. I still get to work earlier than everyone else. But inside me, a whole world of possibility is open because I know I’ve chosen to get to work on time, keep my word, and be my word. For a while now, I’ve wondered how I’m going to achieve all my dreams. Now I know. By keeping my promises and being my word, whatever I say will come true! And when I don’t keep my word, I won’t make up excuses, no matter how good they are. I will simply admit that I haven’t done what I said I would, and fix it.

It wasn’t always this clear. For most of the forum, I walked out of the room during breaks convinced I wasn’t coming back. By the last night of the forum, I was so lost and disillusioned that I wanted nothing more to do with it. But I kept coming back because I had made a promise to finish the course, even though I didn’t want to. That’s what is opening all these doors in my life.

One important lesson I’ve learnt is to pay more attention to what happens than to how I interpret it. I have a big problem with that because I have an analytical nature. I’m stuck in questions about who I am, how I got this way, why I am the way I am and so on, and the forum answered all those questions beautifully. But what makes life work is not knowing how you tick. It’s knowing that stuff happens, realizing that you build yourself around how you interpret this stuff … then stopping the interpretations. Or at least ignoring them.

Being sad about a broken glass doesn’t solve the problem, but buying a new glass might. So to make life work, don’t hide inside your thoughts and feelings. Get out into the real world and live! Don’t sit there worrying and panicking and shaking because the glass broke and you’ll get in trouble. Go out and get a new glass! But also, make sure you explain that you broke the glass, that you’re sorry, and that you’ve replaced it. That’s called integrity, and it makes your word count.

What if you don’t have money for a new glass? Work out a system to replace it. Give up one of your own glasses. Wash dishes or run errands for a week in exchange for the broken glass. Give the person a plastic cup instead. Do something! But don’t just sit there crying, worrying and panicking over broken glass. That just leaves you miserable and the person is still missing a glass, so nothing is solved.

I could go on and on and on, but here’s the thing. Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day. It’s also the last day of this month’s Landmark Forum. At 6.30 p.m. graduates of the Landmark Forum will be at the Hilton Hotel in Nairobi taking our final class, and you can all join in! Come and see what the forum has done for us, and what it can do for you. Don’t worry, the Tuesday session is free, and you get to spend Valentine’s Day at the Hilton, so you really can’t lose.

The session includes an introduction to the Landmark Forum so you can find out what it’s really about. If you’d like to know more, you can call 0722782997. No, that’s not my number *cheeky grin*. I’ll answer what I can in the comments, so if there’s any way I can help, feel free to ask. Oh, also, there’s a website.

Landmark is helping me to make my life work, but unless everyone else’s life gets better as well, then the world stays just the way it is. I like being happy, and I like helping people to be happy. This forum is one way that I can do both, and you can see for yourself that it works. So, tomorrow, 6.30 p.m. at the Hilton, will you be my Valentine? I’m hoping for over 5,000 dates, so bring a lot of friends. The more the better!

Addendum – 7th August 2015

It’s roughly three years since I attended the Landmark Forum. I ended up doing two more courses – the advanced forum and a weekly seminar that I didn’t complete. I got an email from a friend today. She was considering landmark, and this post convinced her to try it. I’m not sure how I feel about that, because I’m not in the ‘landmark’ space anymore.

I’ve considered taking down this post, but I’d like to leave it here, because it expresses how I felt at the time. Clearly, I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m currently in therapy for clinical depression, and I’m still dealing with some of the issues that I thought I had resolved at Landmark. I’m not going to bad-mouth my experience, because I did learn a lot from it. I’ll only say I’m not in the landmark space anymore, and if you are, good luck to you. It certainly is an interesting place to be.

♫ Into the Ocean ♫ Blue October

11 thoughts on “My Weekend at The Landmark Forum

  1. What a great post. I’m not saying i’ll come (short notice etc) but i’ll be using this to get myself to do all that stuff I keep putting off because I don’t have time, or it doesn’t make a difference or etc. Thanks. And thanks to Sam too.

  2. i was told about the landmark forums by someone else too and she was just as effusive and enthusiastic as you are so congrats on attending it seems to have really made a difference

  3. My take is a little crazy, but humor me for a second:

    I’m thinking, you should give yourself a huuuuge pat on the back. True, Landmark made you sit up and face the monsters under your bed and showed you the fighting tools but you’re the one rolling up the sleeves and doing the actual ghostbusting…I’ve seen some people quote profound landmark philosophies but I do not see it in their actions no?

    I had someone try to talk me into land mark class, but it sounded exactly like Dr Phil’s Life Strategies: Doing what works, doing what matters so I decided to actually get off my tushie & use the Dr. Phil tools first before trying landmark (and there was the price factor to consider, truth be told)

    So congrats girl.

  4. @Juliet There are introduction classes every Tuesday at heron Hotel, you should come =)

    @WWF it’s a journey. Some days I’m so glad I started, other days I’m making effigies of David Ure. But it really did make a difference, and I’ll drag you for a free intro class when you get back, deal?

    @Jacquie It takes a while to learn to walk the walk, and I do lose my ‘lessons’ sometimes, but it’s changing me for the better, so I just take it a day at a time. I’ll try getting you to an intro class as well. I’ve done Dr Phil and I find landmark more ‘do’ than he is, which is saying a lot *grin*

    @Kimani I’m glad. So we’ll see you at a class soon, yes?

  5. Hey Crystal,

    I was googling on the landmark forum when i came across this post. I also have a friend who is hell bent on making sure I attend the forum next month. Its a pleasant relief to see (1) someone I personally know who is unbiased has some good reviews about the forum (2) Am not the only one who was shocked at the questions on the registration forms and yes, they scare me half to death too. (3) If it was this great for you in 2012 it must be better and improved in 2015.

  6. @Rahab Sometimes 2012 feels like several lifetimes ago *cheeky grin* I attended the landmark forum, the advanced forum, and half of a landmark seminar. The seminar was a 12 week programme, I think I attended the first six sessions or something. Learned a lot, met some interesting people. I kind of lost interest a few months in, got into meditation and pranic healing instead. Did that for a year, then lost interest again. Maybe I’m just fickle. *shrug*

  7. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading this especially the part about what it means to be your word. I never understood it that way. I see now how power is created and how it is because you say and then action follows. Thanks.

  8. Great post and sorry to hear you are now suffering from depression. I think when you do something which is so intensive it can have that effect . I think you have to go back to the old forum thing of what is the real problem ?

    I did the Landmark Forum in London many years ago and with David Ure who is amazing. I spent a lot of the time in tears but by the end I felt really alive and that I could do anything. I then did the Advanced which was good but I did get a bit depressed at the end . But the thing I learned from the advanced was that ‘its not always about you ” ..that transformed my life totally and its strange when you see people doing it all the time . Although it should be said this is not for people in therapy but more a direction and technology to live your life. I still use these methods today and its a very good way to live your life

  9. Like Diana (respondent above) I did the Forum many years ago with David Ure. It was the greatest and most challenging thing I have ever done, by a very long way. That was over twenty years ago – I did two more courses in the two years that followed – and nothing since. Without realising it I use the ‘technology’ I learned on those courses every day. It ‘brought me out of myself’, to use an old-fashioned expression, I now feel relaxed in any group of people – which was unthinkable once upon a time. I’d recommend the course to anyone thinking of trying it. You’ll be challenged by what you learn – it wouldn’t be much use else, would it?

  10. So refreshing to see an honest review. For those checking out Landmark before making a decision be aware that there is another blogger out there who put together an entire blog so called debunking Landmark’s courses. Finding the claims there over the top, considering I am currently attending class and never experiencing the negative claims, I researched that blog further and if you dig right down to the first blog you will find the source of anger from that blogger.

    The blogger himself states that his now ex-wife went on a Landmark course and then divorced him. He admits to never attending the course.

    His excessive rants about a course that he has never been on led me to believe he probably could have really got a lot out of the programme and I speculate it may have even helped his distraught marriage (his ex-wife asked him to to the course after her, due to the positive impact – by his own admission). Thereafter his wife, perhaps facing a future of no change in areas that needed it – filed for divorce.

    Again by the bogger’s own admission, he blamed Landmark and it seemed was bent on revenge. Naturally, I am reading between the lines here and picking up statements off his own blog. I also felt that many of his reviews all listed as “Anonymous” seemed to carry similar language and even the repeated use of some unusual words across comments.

    Okay, so that said, as I said I have done the Landmark Forum (call it the “beginners”) and now on the Advanced. I won’t mention the detail about durations or logistics of the course as that is covered in the post and other’s comments.

    What I will discuss is the claim of a “cult” and brainwashing which really freaked me out when I read that – even when I was attending the course and had full knowledge of what was going on. I can only imagine what someone would think if you were looking for an unbiased opinion.

    I have always been interested in psychology (studied it for two years too) and have read many self-help books since. In reality, the work in landmark is covered in a scope of various books but Landmark puts it into a practical perspective and course. While different words might be used, this is all about examining our (bad) fixation with the ego control that goes on in our lives each day. In addition, our getting stuck in the past or overly being concerned about the future. Living in the Now (Eckhart Tolle et al) is a big deal and can transform one’s life once you understand how to apply it.

    The course teaches about being honourable to your word in terms of integrity. Let go of the past. What is, is. Not paying attention to frivolous stuff that takes up our energy – rather acknowledge and move on. Getting upset with people or loved ones over rubbish that in the greater scheme of things is really meaningless. We’ve all experienced that feeling of dread when we come down from our anger to realise we are overreacting and tomorrow either one of us could be gone (well – perhaps we SHOULD be more attentive to that thought!!)

    Mostly it encourages making contact with loved ones or those you need to forgive (well known that the person holding the grudge suffers the most and can never be free). This part alone is transformational. Suddenly you are communicating with people and connecting just as humans should, having incredible breakthroughs. All my relationships are better and I am much more conscious and present to life in general.

    Strange how most of this can be found in many self-help courses and books but Landmark has an easily accessible course that delivers in one programme at, in my opinion, a decent price. I owned a training company for over 25 years and I can tell you they are cheap in contrast to many self-development courses out there.

    Okay, onto the most contentious topic – that is “enrolment.” During the course, you will hear about enrolling others in your possibilities (positive goals in your life). Actually, this is not about registering people (the concept of signing someone up) but rather getting others involved in your future plans and dreams. If you have ever attended ANY kind of training you will know the hardest part is keeping those goals and training alive after the course is done. The concept of enrolment means that you involve others in your hoped-for achievements which already makes them more accountable and achievable and is, therefore, more likely to materialise in future.

    Of course, as you achieve these milestones it inspires those around you – especially those you have enrolled. It makes sense then to have your closest people and those affected by dreams enrolled in the course so they understand and support your journey, once again fanning the fire of inspiration.

    For example, imagine a couple doing this course and coming to terms with letting the past go and living fully with each other in the present with integrity while planning for the greatest possibilities and going off together to forge that in the future!! Who can tell me this won’t help a partnership?

    Quite amazing that each day we go out and consume products for a fee and can be happy or disgruntled with our purchase and yet suddenly Landmark is labelled as fake or a cult. The content taught is basic stuff similar in many courses and by no means “cultish.” I saw nothing of anything weird like being deprived of food, toilet or similar. The days are long but by no means impossible. get real – its the length of time one is awake on any normal day but now suddenly called “sleep deprivation” – perhaps if you need a daily nap to get through a day you should skip this!

    I found Landmark to be well worth the money. Important to note that I have a pretty happy life and a good outlook on how the mind works and yet still I was able to unlock why certain blockages were present and turning up in my life. I witnessed people who really had stuff to attend to and the tools and perspective would be even more valuable then.

    So anyone looking for an honest review, I would say that you should definitely do the course and judge for yourself. You are not going to go broke on losing that sum of money but the potential for growth and happiness are well worth the risk.

    I wish happiness and health for everyone so I can only wish the very best for you in life. I hope this review helps even just one person to break through the naysayers and find relief to the sometimes unfathomable burdens of life.

    Cheers from Cape Town, South Africa

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