EPISODE 3. OPENING THE DOOR TO COMMUNITY IN THE PURSUIT OF FREEDOM

Estela: Welcome back to the Freedom Experience everyone! We are chatting with the beautiful Irma Horvath who is living in Budapest,Hungary. Irma is creating amazing, creative workshops with individuals and groups through her company around themes of professional and personal development. I would love to talk to you about what individuals can give and receive in a community setting like, here, at Freedom X Fest.

Irma: I really believe that you need a community in order to exist. We are built as social human beings so our brains are wired to socialize. We tend to feel safe in a community environment. When we are genuinely connecting with others we flood the blood with endorphins and the brain wants more of that. In today’s society, there is so much more isolation and loneliness. People find it very difficult to reconnect when there is initial separation. One of the reasons why I find the Freedom X Fest amazing is because it brings people together. My experiences and my studies have shown me that for an individual to thrive, a few things need to happen: The first is the universal need to be seen and understood. Some of the ways we feel this is with eye contact, someone acknowledging you or saying your name. They are very subtle but powerful actions that are individual to you, yet simultaneously make you feel included in a community. The second thing you need is appreciation for what you provide. Very specific feedback is crucial for that, for example, “It meant alot to me when you came up and hugged me yesterday because I felt that we’re friends.” We can do that with people at anytime and it doesn’t cost anything. So, the most important things are being seen and appreciated for our contribution. The third most important thing for an individual to thrive is to have purpose and value. The Freedom X Fest, for example, is giving people a door to open up to new possibilities and goals instead of being limited. It opens us up and that’s a very powerful message to send to people.   

Estela: It’s so interesting that you mentioned that because yesterday a common answer to what helped people make changes in their lives was the support of a community, maybe a social network or friends. We put this event, the Freedom X Fest together, because we wanted a space for connection and community. Many of us have experienced what an amazing difference human to human connection makes on our freedom journeys.

Irma: When people learn or acquire new skills, there is a crucial element that we forget and that’s why we need other humans... We’ll go through an experience and then reflect on it internally, how we behaved, what we felt, what actions we made, whether they aligned with what we wanted to achieve or not. When we add another person to the dialogue, through mutual reflection and feedback, we get to see what we can take from that learning experience. We are able to see if we can generalize anything from the experience and take it forward. It really helps to have conscious attention on the learning experience. Over years of practice it will become built into your mindset or routine and that’s how you form new behaviors. So, in order to make changes towards improving your life, you need to talk to another person about the experience. There are many times where experiences wouldn’t mean as much if we didn’t share them, like watching a great sunset  or jumping out of a parachute. Human to human connection can make any moment more meaningful and can also be a powerful tool for learning and growth.

Estela: That’s so fascinating. I’ve experienced that a lot in groups and communities, where I’ll see or experience something and then I learn from the reflections. It’s super amazing! I never really heard a detailed explanation of how or why it works so thank you so much for sharing that, Irma.

Irma: There is one golden nugget that I am happy to share and it’s one of the basic principles I work around: Learning happens where the attention is. So, it’s incredible to shift focus or start to pay attention to how you are doing something because then it becomes something that you can repeat. For example, if I am just talking to someone in English and I want to expand my vocabulary I can pay attention to the phrases they are using. Then, immediately this dialogue is a learning experience. I think what’s wonderful about this is that you can create a learning experience from any encounter just by shifting your attention. Isn’t that just the best thing -- picking consciously what you want to improve on? Once you’ve got that, the limit is the sky.

Estela: What would you say to people that want to connect with like-minded people? What is that one thing they could do in order to find more people that they are comfortable sharing their experience with?

Irma: Experiment! Go up to people and be present in discussions. Get out of your head and instead of formulating a response to what they are saying, really listen to what they want to say. That’s how you build true connections. You know, you’ll meet hundreds, thousands of people, and some encounters will be just passing encounters and some will be life-changing. The difference is whether you take the  initiative. Go up to someone say hi, sit down with them and really ask what you are interested in. Remember to have a genuine curiosity, don’t just ask questions on the surface, ask and share things that are meaningful. Also, don’t be afraid to be judged. It’s all perception. Trust that people want to connect with you and that they will see the value in you. That’s a very liberating thought to have the freedom to go up to people and initiate connections.

Estela: Yes, I remember that’s how we met in Kaptar, like two years ago. I really felt your openness. I would say that there are people who are extroverts, like myself, and then there are introverts. I am really open and I love people and social connections, but I also know that there are people who find that difficult. What is that one thing that those people can do in any type of community setting?

Irma: It’s such an important point that you’re making. I think the most important message that I can give to people is embrace who you are. Don’t beat yourself up because you are not the bubbly person. Don’t have ideals, if you’re not like that, don’t be like that. It’s perfectly fine to go into a room and not start to connect with everyone, not everyone is a “super connector.” My advice is to just make yourself available. It sends a very different message if you are immersed in your phone and closed off or if you’re sitting there and waiting for an extrovert to come and talk to you. It sends them a message that I’m open to conversation but I’m just too shy to go up to you. Again, love yourself for who you are, be tender with yourself in your inner dialogue. It makes a huge difference to the way you are experiencing connections, encounters, or anything in your life.

Estela: Okay lovely advice. So my final question, since we are at the Freedom X Fest in Budapest, how do you see community in this space of location independence and co-working? How does this community look and feel?

Irma: It feels like the best time to be in Hungary. It feels like people are traveling through, but there is an open space where people can come, take shelter, and recharge. People can come and spark new ideas, leave, and then return. It’s a really buzzing community that is opening up possibilities rather than closing in. This is the time to be a Digital Nomad and a free thinker here in Budapest!

Estela: Awesome! Thank you so much, Irma it’s been so great to have you here with us.

Irma: Thank you!

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