Jodi Hildebrandt: The Counterfeit of Connection

Jodi Hildebrandt is the founder and owner of ConneXions, is an educator of human connection. She has authored 17 workbooks and produced more than 100 podcasts. Since 2006, when she started her practice, she has learned valuable lessons on how honesty, responsibility, and humility create connection with self, others, and God. As she saw how people with addictions, fears, and sadness were changing their lives as they chose to live these principles, Jodi decided to create ConneXions—which has been rapidly growing since 2012. Jodi loves to work with people and see them change. She is very passionate about this work and seeing it go throughout the world.

In a recent interview with our team, Jodi told Thom Harrison and Ken Krogue that control in a relationship is the opposite of connection. “I’d call it disconnect; so there are two paths, there’s a connected path and there is a disconnected path. And every choice we make either goes down a path of connection, or a path that disconnects. So you’re right. Every time control enters, they are actively disconnecting with each other and themselves,” she explained.

In her practice, she “started realizing that people were not willing to be honest and responsible for themselves. So, over the course of probably five years, I figured out that connection is an outcome.” One with three governing principals:

  1. You must be rigorously responsible,
  2. You must be impeccably honest,
  3. You must be vulnerably humbled.

“As you learn what those principles mean, and when you choose to live those principles, you will have the outcome of connection,” which cannot be controlled and is a byproduct of living what she calls truth. Then she explained how she isedf these principles with her very first client.

“He was an alcoholic and a drug addict. He was a multimillionaire, very powerful man, and nobody confronted him. I was in my late twenties, early thirties. I was nobody in his world, and he was in treatment.

“I remember him becoming very angry one day and going off on his wife and his children and blaming everybody in his life for his problems. And I heard very clearly in my mind, ‘Confront him.'” She thought, “Oh no, he’s really mad. I don’t think that’ll be good.” Then there it was again, “Confront him.”

She remembers saying something, “All right, yeah, you’ve had a hard life and yeah, this and this and this happened, and your wife loves you, and you have three children at home.”

“I just started speaking truth to him and he sat back and was silent after I got done. And I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I just do? I’m going to get fired.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘How dare you?’ And I said, ‘That’s the truth. What you were speaking was not the truth, that is the truth.’ I stood my position.”

About 30 minutes later supervisor told her, “Jodi, I don’t know you, but you’re going to be a really good therapist,” punctuating her point with a few expletives, she continued “And don’t do that again! Don’t confront people like that again, because they get really upset. He wants you fired.”

But with that shaky start, five years later she got an email from that angry client, saying, “Jodi, no one had ever confronted me in my life like that. And that’s why I was sick. You were the only one that had the guts to tell me the truth. And that is why I got well— you were nasty and you were mean, and you scared me. But thank you for loving me enough to tell me the truth. You always were honest with me.”

Of course, since then, Jodi had gone on to serve hundreds of clients, but she always feels empowered to speak truth to people because she says, “I watch people’s lives heal.” Returning to her story, she related, “I didn’t have all the pieces together at that point, but I knew that what he was saying, was at some level creating sickness in him. I also watched so many people literally bow to him because of his power and his prestige.”

She explained that as she worked at this first treatment center, where movie stars and people with wealth flew in on private jets, she just was not impressed with who they thought they were. They would ask, “Do you know who I am?” and she would respond, “No, but I know you’re sick. Do you want some help?”

She said that that approach served her well and as she “continued to work with that population, it was the same presentation over and over and over and over again—that arrogance, that entitlement, that false sense of power and importance when really they were just hurting, and they were scared, and they were lost. They barked really loud, but they didn’t have any structure foundation.”

She illustrated life’s paths with two directions. One where there is truth, honestly, responsibility and humility and the is a path of distortion. “So you are either choosing truth or are choosing distortion. Just like you are choosing connection or you are choosing disconnection. “

Every day, she says, “God grants us experience and inside that experience, there is what I call inevitable pain and then there’s optional pain. Optional pain is another word for distortion. Inevitable pain is called truth.” Most of us run from pain, but she says, “pain is actually a very powerful concept because it teaches us about oppositional force.”

After her internship, she opened a private practice serving those with drug addictions. But has her experience matured she realized that other compulsive behaviors and addictions “had these common principles at play.

“So then I started treating all addictions. Then I started realizing that, ‘Oh my goodness, this is actually for everyone.’

“Every single human is struggling with understanding the power of choice, and these two paths that are clearly outlined, and the fear of feeling inevitable pain. And that inevitable pain, it is a good thing— it’s a teacher. So I started out with addictions, and now it’s kind of opened up to an audience of men, women and children.”

She works to empower her clients to understand that “their choice is the thing that is motivating them to go one way or the other, then they feel a sense of strength and power and capability to heal themselves. “

“There’s no space for blaming. There’s no space for shame, which is another word for distortion. There is no place for it, because I can choose to not buy into that stuff, which I just think is wonderful.” But for most folks, it is challenging to see it happen in their own life.

For example, “I was just talking to a guy the other day and he said, ‘My goodness, I sat in group, and you were helping so-and-so see control in his life, and I saw it. And I could see it, and it was so clear. And then, an hour later in my own session, I couldn’t see it with my wife. What is wrong with me?’ And I said, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just not used to looking at yourself that closely. You could see him because he was outside you’”

She spelled our her normal process this way, ” I will take an hour to hour and a half just to hear where they’ve been. Most people come in with numerous diagnoses. I just listen to their history. I ask lots of questions, gather information.

“What I’m listening for is their distortion in comparison to how much truth they understand.” Then she sets the diagnosis stuff on one side of her mind and all the therapy stuff to the other side, then “I just start teaching them about what impeccable honesty is, what rigorous responsibility looks like, and about vulnerable humility. So, by the time they leave a 50-minute session, or an hour and a half session, they have concrete tools that they can use against their own distortion. Then we just start from there. “

A few sessions in her clients begin to pushback, but she will not move forward until there is a bit of safety between them. “Then I start going after their distortions, because they like hiding behind their distortions, like ‘I can’t’ or ‘This is too hard’ or ‘I’ve been clinically depressed for 20 years, and that’s just the way I am.’

“So I start really digging at those distortions and pushing on them. And the people who are afraid to not take responsibility, they’re the ones that push back.

“People who are in pain and they want solutions, they welcome this stuff because they immediately recognize truth. They say, ‘That makes so much sense.’ And, Oh my goodness, why has nobody ever told me this before?'”

It sounds simple, they say and she responds “it’s simple in theory, just get home and start practicing it. You’re gonna see how hard it is.”

“And yes, it is simple, but that’s usually the people that push back or the people who do not want to take responsibility for themselves. And they’ll either work through it, or they’ll leave, they’ll self deport, which is fine. I’m not interested in working with people who don’t want to change.”

You can also hear Jodi speak at the Enternal Core Conference, March 29–30. 2019 at Salt Lake City’s Little America.

Thom Harrison on Getting By, but Not Getting Better

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