How Your Feelings, Not Your Thoughts, Create the Freedom You Want
“What's the cage that you're breaking people free from?” Jonny asked.
I closed my eyes. The question had unexpectedly touched a chord in my heart. Before I could open my mouth to even respond, I already found tears streaming down my face.
It was my turn to be in the hot seat of our mastermind retreat, and I felt the loving presence and attention of the others on me.
My wife Candace and our dear friends Kelly and Jonny had gathered together for two days at our Airbnb in Ubud, Bali to support each other in our life's work.
What happens when four deeply embodied coaches and facilitators — all dedicated to deepening human connection in the world — come together to co-create a 2-day mastermind retreat?
Magic, it turns out.
We had a powerful breathwork session led by Jonny that brought us to tears as we discovered what held us back from stepping into our radiance.
We danced through an embodied journey that created deeper clarity around our intentions.
We co-facilitated transformational coaching conversations that moved each other through emotional blockages and limiting beliefs — to unlock new levels of clarity for each of us.
The question that Jonny asked was case in point. It struck gold and hit on my why behind what I'm creating in the world.
Breaking Free of the Unseen Cage
Three years ago, when I visited Bali for the first time, I was stuck in a cage of my own making — and I didn't even know it.
My 8-year-long marriage (and 17-year-long relationship) no longer brought me joy, and I felt trapped.
As much as some part of me really wanted to leave, another part felt afraid of making the wrong choice.
No amount of logic or convincing — either of myself or my wife at the time — of why I needed to leave brought me closer to actually leaving. I'd find momentary conviction that seemed to dissolve whenever I sat down in conversation with my ex-wife and tried to follow through.
By the time of my first Bali visit, I'd already been looping for five months — making pros / cons lists, reflecting on my own, and having countless conversations with coaches and friends.
And then, after seven full days of dancing at the Bali Spirit Festival, something major shifted.
Mid-dance on the seventh day, I looked down at my body, and it hit home just how much joy and aliveness my dance and movement had been bringing me for the past week. My eyes suddenly teared up with deep gratitude and acceptance for the way my body moved.
In that moment, I felt a profound clarity in my entire being. I’d been able to source incredible amounts of joy internally, and I knew I deserved to create that level of joy everywhere in my life.
From that feeling, I realized I no longer needed to convince my then-wife. I didn't need her to understand why — I was leaving the marriage for me, as an act of self-love.
The day I returned from Bali, I packed up my belongings, told her I was leaving, and left.
That feeling — rather than any amount of thinking and reasoning — gave me the courage and the clarity to break free of my cage of indecision.
I'd spent 35 years of my life making decisions from my head. It’d gotten me really far, especially in my career. I was an engineer who was highly rewarded for solving problems intellectually.
But it wasn't enough to create the freedom that I wanted in all areas of my life, including my romantic relationships.
It's only in the past few years that I've truly internalized how much the feelings in our bodies are actually our most effective tool for making decisions — especially the important ones.
When my mind was unable to solve a problem, my feelings held the answer, surprisingly. My mind couldn't "logic" its way to the "right" choice.
When we’re stuck in these types of mental decision loops, it seems somehow that if we could only just think harder or reason long enough, we could get out of them.
And that stuckness can feel so lonely.
Those loops become cages that we oftentimes can't see, and they siphon our energy away from other things that deeply matter to us.
At the time, I may not have known I was in a cage, but I knew I was stressed by indecision and needed to make a change in my life.
When we can finally see the cage, that's when we have a chance of breaking free.
What I discovered in that mastermind retreat was that guiding people to break through the cages in their lives is my life's work.
I want to show people how to connect with the feelings in their bodies. Because when we're deeply connected with our feelings, we can make powerful decisions with clarity, trust, peace, and ease. We can pursue what actually makes us feel alive and free. And we no longer have to be trapped and alone.
It's a delightful synchronicity that after a year of nomadic traveling — it’s while my wife and I are living in Bali, the place where I discovered my own sense of freedom, that I found a deeper sense of the why behind what I’m doing.
From Zero to Connection
As part of this newfound clarity, my wife and I are creating an online school for connection.
Our first flagship program, Zero to Connection, empowers people to create deep, heartfelt connection in their lives, both with themselves and with others. The first invite-only beta for this month-long course launches later this fall.
I know from both my 350+ deep-dive conversations with Uber and Lyft drivers and my Uncomfortable Conversation challenge that when you can trust yourself to create a deep level of connection everywhere in your life, suddenly so much more freedom feels possible.
We’ve curated the most effective tools and mindsets for deep connection, and this will be your opportunity to experience them firsthand.
We want our super fans to help us build the program, and we’re looking for people for whom this is true:
- You sense that you’re on the cusp of a breakthrough in your life and yearn for extra support.
- You're willing to invest the time and resources to examine the patterns that are no longer working.
- You want to feel less lonely and create deeper relationships in your life, but you don't know how.
- You want to feel empowered to make big decisions that create powerful change in your life.
- You're excited to partner with us to give us feedback so that we can create the best school for connection out there.
If you’re a hell yes to this, message me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to Jonny Miller and Candace Sauve for reading drafts of this post.