Posted in codependency

Five Steps toward Healing Co-Dependency

Co-dependency has been defined in many ways. At the most basic level, co-dependency is based on the false premise that it is our job to make other people happy and that if we do not, they will no longer love us. After our spiritual awakening and as we move toward self-actualization, we come to recognize the patterns of co-dependency that are prevalent in our lives and are invited to heal these patterns.

co-dependency, spiritual healing, self-actualization, boundaries, healthy boundaries,

Identifying Co-Dependency
There are a wide range of behaviors that fit within the cycle of co-dependency and we are all affected in different ways proportionate to our conditioning. Below are a few examples of co-dependent behaviors and attitudes. Healing begins by identifying what of these behaviors are present within us:
• An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the happiness of others.
• Taking care of the needs of others before taking care of ourselves.
• A tendency to do more than our share, all of the time.
• A sense of guilt when asserting ourselves.
• Difficulty in setting boundaries.
• A disproportionate need for approval and recognition.

Recognizing the Causes of Co-Dependency
After identifying patterns of co-dependency, it is often helpful to understand what causes these behaviors. First and foremost is the understanding that co-dependency is learned. We are not born co-dependent, it is a pattern of behavior that is taught to us by our culture first, then our parents, teachers, ministers and peers. We are trained to be co-dependent by the societal expectations that it is our job to make other people happy, that somehow their unhappiness is our fault, and that another person’s needs are of more value than our own. From the perspective of spiritual healing, the root cause of co-dependency is the false believe that love exists outside of us and that we have to earn this love and that if we do not make others (mom, dad, God, our teachers, etc.) happy that they will withdraw their love from us.

Co-Dependency Takes Two
Co-dependency always happens between two (or more) people. There is the “triggerer” and the “triggered.” The triggerer acts in a way that tugs at another, prompting them to react to the other person’s actions. An example might be a partner who reacts in violent ways to not getting their way – perhaps a project they are working on isn’t going their way and they start screaming and yelling out of frustration. The triggered then reacts – running to the “rescue” of the triggerer, in attempt to “fix it” so their partner can be happy. Another example might be a peer who remarks negatively about the way you dress which prompts you to change your whole style in an attempt to gain that peer’s approval.

Acknowledge When We Are Triggered
The triggering that drives us toward co-dependent behaviors is subtle. In the early stages of healing from co-dependency, this triggering is often unrecognizable. We don’t see it because it is so familiar. The cycle of co-dependency has become a part of how we function. Healing co-dependency requires that we recognize when we are triggered to reach out to another in an effort to make them happy or to gain approval. For many, this “reaching out” is experienced in a very physical way, such as in a sensation in the center of one’s gut that feels like energy pulling at and away from them. Others might feel it as a constriction in the neck or shoulder muscles. The way the trigger is experienced is unique from individual to individual and the path to healing co-dependency begins by identifying how these sensations are felt in our own bodies and then acknowledging when these sensations are being triggered.

Standing in Your Own Power
When we feel the physical sensation of being triggered, the next step is to STOP that energy from leaving our body and pulling us toward the person we are tempted to “make happy.” This step is the sheer force of will that allows us to STAY PUT instead of running to another’s rescue or after another person’s approval. Standing in our own power also helps us to recognize that we are not the cause of another person’s unhappiness. One practice that has proven helpful is the mantra, “It’s their stuff, not mine.” When we feel triggered by another’s behavior, instead of following the thread of co-dependency, we stand still, holding our energy into ourselves while chanting this mantra. This helps us to put a halt to this pattern of co-dependency, leaving the other party responsible for their own happiness – where this responsibility lies in the first place.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat
The above are five steps toward healing co-dependency. To truly be free of this conditioned behavior, we have to follow the above steps over and over and over again. As in all things, practice makes perfect and the more we tend to our own journey of healing co-dependency, the more we are truly free of these debilitating practices.

For further support in healing from co-dependency, consider a private session with Lauri Ann Lumby. Email lauri@authenticfreedomacademy.com to schedule your session. Also check out Lauri’s book Happily Ever After – The Transformational Journey from “you complete me” to Beloved Partnership. Available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.

Posted in Beloved Partnership, Boundaries, codependency, Relationships

You Don’t Complete Me!

Damn, You Don’t Complete Me!

Many relationships entered into in our youth are established upon the illusion that the other person will complete us.  We look to the other to fill the emptiness and longing we feel inside.  Eventually, we realize that the other person is not completing us as disappointment and resentment rush in.   Now we have entered the dark night of the relationship.  We then begin to harbor blame, resentment and hatred against the other person for not being the fantasy we created in our mind.  It is this resentment that will eventually destroy our relationships unless we do something about it.

The Only Person Who Can Complete You is YOU!

Doing something about the resentment, many discover all the ways in which they have been socialized to seek outside of themselves for love and completion, along with all the ways in which they believe that love is something that has to be earned or that can be denied them.  What often arises out of these false perceptions is co-dependency.   If you are the one who has given away your power, hoping in return for completion and love, the invitation is to take your power back.  This means identifying all the ways in which you have remained silent, ignored or suppressed your needs or your truth, stayed in the background, forsaken your needs and tended to the needs of others at the expense of your own needs.

Welcome Perimenopause and Menopause

For women, compounding, hastening and perhaps even catalyzing this invitation to tend to ones own needs is the advent of menopause.  When women become aware (consciously or unconsciously) that their time for childbearing has come to an end, they begin to see their lives through a dramatically different lens.  During the vulnerable years of childbearing, and while the children are still tender, vulnerable little beings, a veil stands between a woman’s sight and truth.  All of the woman’s energy and attention is directed at the survival of the children.  Once the children become viable, and the woman knows she is done bearing children, the veil collapses.  Every personal need, creative drive, personal desire, wish, hope and dream that was placed on the shelf for the sake of the needs of the children and family come tumbling down.  And now, the woman’s inner drive is directed toward the rediscovery of her own truth, her own needs and the discovery of the vocation which will provide her fulfillment in the second half of her life.  Wife/Mom suddenly becomes a different person and the husband/children are left to wonder, “What the heck just happened?”  This is often when the threads of co-dependency begin to unravel and the rules of the household begin to change.  (please note that men have their own version of this midlife transition – as I understand it, it is a departure from the role of provider to the role of enjoyer…sadly our culture and our current expectations of gender roles does not do a good job of supporting this transition either!)

Undoing Co-Dependency

Whether it is the man or the woman who has been the partner bargaining their own needs for the illusion of completion and love, the process is the same.  Co-dependent behaviors are identified, and we begin the process of changing how we act and respond in our relationships.  We begin by identifying our own truth, our own needs, our own dreams, hopes and desires.  Then we begin to exercise these truths.  We name and claim our needs to those around us.  We set boundaries around our need for “ME” time.  We learn to say no to those things not supportive of our needs and we begin to make time for those things that are life-giving for us.  We stop rushing to the side of those around us every time they seem to be in distress, and we empower them to learn how to tend to their own needs.  We stop doing for others what they are capable of doing for themselves.

A Rude Awakening

For those who have been trained by our co-dependency to expect us to take care of them or to forsake our own needs for theirs, this is a time of RUDE AWAKENING!  We have trained our loved ones well, and now we are changing the rules.  The first response is often bewilderment which then turns into rebellion and often outright war!  “What do you mean you’re not going to make my breakfast?”  “But you’ve always picked out my clothes for me.”  “What good are art classes at your age?”  “You want to go back to school….for what!?”  “Why would you want time for yourself…don’t you love us?”  For those who have been trained to forsake their own needs for the needs of those they love, this can be a difficult transition as the demons of guilt whisper, and sometimes scream in our ears, “You are abandoning your family….they need you….this is your job…..”  In response to this, I will share with you a mantra that was once given to me by a great teacher:

The most loving thing you can do for those you love is to do what is most loving for yourself.

Every time you claim your own need, every time you set boundaries around your own time, every time you stop doing something for someone that they are capable of doing for themselves, you are teaching them how NOT to be co-dependent.  You are modeling for them healthy, interdependent behavior. And you are empowering them to be GROWN UPS!

If you are interested in unraveling from past patterns of co-dependency check out our relationship course, Happily Ever After.  Click on image below to learn more.

Register HERE
Register HERE
Posted in Boundaries, codependency, Lessons, Relationships

Not My Fault

At the end of the day, all we really want as human beings is to know that we are love(d).  We will go to any lengths to insure that we are love(d) – including taking on the fears and unhealed wounds of another.  Today’s blog is about releasing ourselves from the burden of other people’s fear.

notmyfault

Natural Order

Contrary to the way our conflict and war-torn world might make us believe, human beings are naturally inclined to seek out harmony.   In fact, we are hardwired with a biological alert system which signals when we are involved in interactions that are not in support of harmony.  Human beings are also naturally inclined toward loving and peaceful actions.  It is only when we are afraid that these natural inclinations toward loving and peaceful actions in support of harmonious and loving human relations are thwarted.  The challenge is that until we learn how, we are mostly unaware of our fears.  When unaware of our own inner anxiety and fear, and without the tools to identify the source of these fears and strategies for coping with them, or even transcending them, our fears tend to come out sideways.

Fear Coming Out Sideways

In most cases, fear that is unacknowledged and unmanaged comes out sideways, typically in the form of blame.  We experience a state of unease and unaware of how to handle anxiety, we determine that it must be someone else’s fault.  I’m feeling anxious about a work deadline, but instead of identifying and working with my anxiety, I decide the unease is my boss’ fault for being such a hard-ass. Finances are a little tight and I feel anxious about this, but instead of identifying and managing my own anxiety, I lose my temper with my child when they show me they have outgrown all their clothes.  I feel burdened and stressed out by the tasks needed to get ready for my daughter’s graduation party.  My husband gets called in to work and I bite his head off.  It’s my boss’ fault, it is my child’s fault, it’s my husband’s fault.  Nope….it is nobody’s fault.  We simply feel anxious and we don’t know what to do with it.

Here’s Where it Gets Messy

It would be one thing if all we had to do was manage our own anxiety, but we are pack animals and live and work in proximity with other human beings.  Here is where things get messy.  Until OTHERS know better, they are just as likely to put their fears on us.  And until we are secure in the love that we are, we are likely to accept the blame for their fears in an effort to win their love.  We know when we are the one who is being blamed for someone else’s fear, because that biological alert system goes off and (until we know better), we feel shame, which we often quickly cover up with defensive anger.  This feeling of shame then triggers our fear of rejection. Somehow, somewhere, by some strange act of nature (or conditioning), we are SURE we are at fault – their anger, sadness, distress, etc. etc. etc. must somehow be our responsibility.  THEN we do everything we can do to please the other person in an attempt to earn back the love we are sure has now been denied us, including picking up their fear, etc. and carry it around, doing grave danger to ourselves either through self-punishing thoughts and behaviors or defensive rage.  The trick is, it is really not our fault, and the other person does not have the power to deny us of the love that is the very nature of our being.

It’s Not Our Fault

Unfortunately, the “it is not our fault” piece can’t happen until we get a handle on our own anxiety.  We can’t point out the splinter in our brother’s eye until we remove the plank from our own.  Once we understand how to identify and work with our own anxiety, then we can address the projected blame of others.  When another tries to make us responsible for their own anxiety, the first step is to do an inventory – did we actually do something wrong?  Did we make a mistake?  Did we inadvertently cause harm?  If so….immediately take responsibility for it, apologize if necessary, forgive ourselves, them move on.  If we have not done anything wrong, then the next step is to purge ourselves of the shame ignited by the other person’s fear and the resulting fear of rejection.  If we did nothing wrong….then it is not our fault, and it is not our job to carry around shame, neither is it our job to chase the other person around trying to make them happy.  Their anxiety, is their responsibility and their responsibility alone and love has nothing to do with it.  We may choose to be a source of support in helping them learn to manage their anxiety (when appropriate), but it is not our job to make them happy.  We need to be very clear on this piece.  In spite of the natural human inclination toward harmony and the resulting desire to be love(d), it is not our job to make other people happy, neither is it helpful for us to accept responsibility for their fears and other unhealed wounds.  In fact, this dynamic of projected blame and accepting this blame is a distortion of humanity’s natural desire for harmony and our natural propensity to love.  In truth, authentic harmony is not arrived at until we each take responsibility for our own fears, learn how to manage or heal them, and stop projecting them on to others.  Imagine what the world would be like if we all learned to manage our own fears, including the fear of rejection, and stopped taking on the burden of other people’s fears.

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Empowerment, Jesus, Spiritual Practices, Virtual Church

Fulfilling our Life Purpose – Virtual Church Meditation Supplement

Please find below, Agape’ Meditation Newsletter, a supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service of Sunday, June 29, 2014.  The theme this week is fulfilling our life purpose.

 

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

Scripture Reading:

Jesus had revealed himself to his disciples and, when they had finished breakfast, said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He then said to Simon Peter a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21: 15-19

Jesussheep 

Additional Readings:

Acts 3: 1-10

Ps 19: 2-5

Gal 1: 11-20

 

When We Know the Love of God

This week’s reading beautifully illustrates the natural response to knowing the love of God. When we know the love of God, as Peter came to know through Jesus, we can’t help but share that love with others. This is what Jesus empowered Peter to do through his words, “Feed my sheep.” On fire with the love of God and through the unique ways in which he had been gifted, , Peter then went out, to tell others about the love of God that he had come to know through Jesus and to bring healing to those who were suffering (Acts 3: 1-10).

How have you come to know the love of God through Jesus?

 

How are you called to form a more intimate relationship with Jesus in order that you might know more fully the love of God?

 

How are you called, through your own unique giftedness to share the love of God that you have come to know with others?

 

Spiritual Practices – Feed My Sheep

Set aside 20-30 minutes to enter into this meditation practice. You will be combining mantra and creative imagination in the following way:

  1. Slowly and meditatively read the scripture above.
  2. Choose one of Jesus’ commands to Peter as your mantra:
    1. Feed my lambs
    2. Tend my sheep
    3. Feed my sheep
  3. Repeat your chosen mantra over and over in your mind, allowing the words to penetrate your being and draw you into a state of peacefulness.
  4. Allow your imagination to reveal to you images of how you are being called to fulfill your chosen mantra in your own life.
  5. Record your thoughts/reflection in a notebook or journal.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we are reminded that each of us is uniquely gifted and called to continue Jesus’ work in the world. In accepting this truth, we are able to transcend the fear that we have nothing to contribute to this world, or that we will not be able to bring forth life that will persist. Living in this truth allows us to name and claim our needs to explore, cultivate and nurture our unique giftedness and to set healthy boundaries around these needs, thereby living the virtue of fortitude.

 

How are you naming and claiming your need to explore, nurture and cultivate your own unique giftedness.

 

How are you setting and maintaining boundaries around your desire to cultivate your gifts so that you can fulfill your call to find meaning and purpose in your life in service to the betterment of the world?

 

Posted in Raised Catholic, Spiritual Practices, world changes

Earth Changes – Hang on to your Hat!

  • Are you feeling a profound intensity in the world right now?
  • Are you observing an increase in stress, irritability, pressure?
  • Are you or your loved ones feeling ornery, snipping and snarking at each other?
  • Is time feeling rushed, compressed?
  • Do the things around you seem to be GRINDING TO A HALT, falling completely away or significantly changing in form?
  • Are you finding yourself longing to STAY HOME and in direct contrast, wanting to GO OUT, but only with people and in places that feel “safe” to you?
  • Have you had trouble sleeping or if you are sleeping, finding your sleep filled with intense and sometimes anxious dreams, leaving you tired and worn out in the morning?
  • Are you wanting to nap, nap, nap?
  • Are you worried about or at least wondering about the chaotic and ridiculous events going on in the political world?
  • Are you worried or wondering about the dramatic and often violent weather patterns?

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If any of the above resonate as true for you, you are observing what I have come to call, “Earth changes.”  Some refer to these “symptoms” as part of the current human evolutionary journey of ascension.  Whatever you call it, it is difficult to deny that SOMETHING SIGNIFICANT is happening.  There are a million and one websites that can give you the scoop in intimate detail (My favorites are Think With Your Heart, Power Path, Solara and Spirit Library).  I will leave them to the details.  Here is the message I want to share with you today as a source of support for you as you navigate these interesting waters!

INTENSE INTENSE INTENSE is the word that Power Path gave to the month of April, and I could not agree more.  Holy cow!  ENORMOUS transformational opportunities (for me it seems to be all about bats, priesthood and shamanism – who ever heard of a Catholic Woman Shamanistic Priest?????….more on that later!).  But I digress.  The energy this month is INTENSE and it is firmly anchored in its intensity by a plethora of powerfully significant astrological events!  (again, I’ll leave the details to the experts).  While all of this intensity is going on and I’m watching it come out sideways in my children, and hearing about the chaos from my clients, I am actually feeling pretty calm, cool and collected (except for the tiny matter of bats who keep finding their way into my house….sigh!).  Of course, as soon as I say this, my Irish is looking over her shoulder for the shoe to drop.  Mind you, it is not as if I haven’t been tempted by fear, doubts, concerns over money, work, school, etc., and I am concerned about the ridiculous political events going on in the world, and I’m worried about the death and destruction brought on by the currently violent weather patterns.  But, I am feeling surprisingly peaceful in the midst of it.  I sat down this morning to ponder this….wondering what I am doing that is helping me to feel calm in the midst of the chaos and intensity of April and I identified a few things that I think might provide you with some inspiration and support as you too try to navigate this INTENSITY.  So….here is what I have found to be helpful and supportive in helping me stay peaceful in the midst of the insanity:

1) My spiritual practice.  I can’t say enough about this!  The first thing I do every day is give time to my spiritual practice.  Scripture.  Meditation practice.  Some sacred music. Journaling if I feel so called. I have found that what I give to God in my practice, I receive back a hundred-fold.

2) BOUNDARIES. I have become diligent and somewhat militant about identifying and setting boundaries for myself and around inter-personal relationships.  I listen to my gut and if there is a “disturbance in the force,” I find out what that is and respond to it.  I say no when I mean no and yes, only when I am certain of the yes.  And for me, “maybe” means no (or not yet). I have learned time and time again the truth of the advice my spiritual once gave to me, “The most loving thing you can do for those you love, is to do what is most loving for yourself!”

3) Making room for EASE.  As a type-A, overachiever, workaholic, recovering perfectionist, my life has been defined by my work.  In this time of intensity, I am finding it supportive to MAKE ROOM FOR EASE.  Doing things simply for the sake of enjoyment.  Taking a nap when so-called.  Sitting and simply being and doing nothing.  Ceasing from striving.  In this, I feel my life opening up, the time around me becoming more expansive and in this space, I CAN BREATHE!

4) GET OUTSIDE!  For me, this has meant making the best of the late arrival of spring to get in the gardens, and to make my yard a sacred space (more on that later too!).  Getting my hands in the soil (no gloves for me….I love the feel of dirt!), planting seeds, making my yard a beautiful space, all has helped me to feel grounded and whole.  And, there is an enormous feeling of satisfaction after accomplishing a job well-done, that just happens to also be creative and joyful!

5) Be with the people you love.  And finally, setting time aside to be with the people I love and making this a priority.  I am suddenly finding myself wanting to meet more friends for coffee, having friends over for dinner, meet friends out at fundraisers and philanthropic events.  Friends friends friends and lots of love.  In the end, I think this piece is all about surrounding ourselves with love and through this magnifying its effects.  After all…..if these earth changes are about anything, they are about TURNING THE WORLD TO LOVE.

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Hang on to your hat as we ride the waves of intensity which are helping to support the birth of a new earth and a new experience of life on this planet.  And in the meantime, I hope some of the above help you to find the calm in the midst of the storm.

 

All love,

 

Lauri Lumby

Catholic Woman Shamanic Priest 😉

 

 

 

Posted in Being Human, codependency, Empowerment, Healing, mental illness, Spiritual Practices

Anxiety, Depression and Panic Attacks

 

I am one who has experienced and suffered from depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  Compared to many, I would say that my panic attacks and even depression have been mild.  Anxiety, however, seems to have become my constant companion.  In the thirteen years of actively seeking healing, support, tools for dealing with and managing depression, anxiety and panic attacks, I have come to an interesting theory which I pose here as a question:

Are my anxiety, depression and panic attacks a result of suppressing and withholding my magic?

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I often think it is.  Another way I have described it when working with clients is that in many cases, anxiety, depression and anxiety seem to surface as a result of suppressing (not expressing) our truth.

The only thing I have to support my theory about the link between our magic/our truth and depression, anxiety and panic attacks is my own personal journey of healing along with the healing experienced by many of my clients as we have done the work of accessing their truth and empowering their ability to give voice to their truth.  Not willing to infringe on client confidentiality, I will use myself as an example.

Somewhere around 14 years ago, the universe fell in on me and a few years later, it fell in on me again.  Depression, anxiety and panic attacks surfaced in response to these events.  In the aftermath, I have worked diligently in search of the remedy to the subsequent symptoms of depression, anxiety and panic.  While I did resort to medication (for a duration of 18 months) after my panic attacks became a nightly event, the most profound and enduring remedy to anxiety, panic and depression has been doing the work of identifying my truth, my needs, my magic and finding ways to express them.  The work of identifying my truth, my needs and my magic has included:

  • unraveling from deeply held patterns of co-dependency
  • learning how to identify and work toward getting my needs met
  • grieving unhealed losses, identifying and transforming unhealthy behaviors and defense mechanisms
  • learning to discern the voice of truth from the voice of my fearful self and then acting on it
  • incorporating mindfulness based practices for managing anxiety as it arises
  • exploring my gifts, nurturing, cultivating and sharing them
  • making the decision to leave an unhealthy marriage (not without first trying to make it healthy)
  • learning how to set healthy boundaries
  • coming to know myself – warts and all and learning how to find the gift in all of it

As I learned to take care of myself, my own needs, my gifts, talents and passions and became more comfortable in sharing these with others, my symptoms of depression significantly decreased, anxiety became manageable and panic attacks were all but eliminated.

Along with these measures, I have taken a preventative approach by cultivating a daily spiritual practice and making dietary, exercise and wellness decisions which help to support physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing, all of which help decrease the incidence of anxiety, depression and panic.

I’m not saying these approaches are the be-all, end-all, cure-all, but coming to know our magic and sharing it freely in the world goes a long way in reducing incidences of anxiety, depression and panic.  If nothing else, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Posted in Boundaries, codependency, Midlife Journey, Relationships

Dark Night of the Relationship – Undoing Co-Dependency

The purpose of the midlife and menopause journey is to birth our Soul – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment and through which we are called to contribute to the betterment of our world.  In the process of birthing our Soul, we are invited to heal and sometimes release any inner, as well as outer obstacles to enjoying the life of Soul.  Our intimate relationships are not exempt from this invitation.  It is not a coincidence that the Dark Night of the Relationship often surfaces during midlife and even becomes the catalyst through which real transformation can begin to take place. In today’s blog, we explore the co-dependency that needs to be unraveled and undone.

dark night of the relationship

Damn, You Don’t Complete Me!

As I have mentioned before, many relationships entered into in our youth are established upon the illusion that the other person will complete us.  We look to the other to fill the emptiness and longing we feel inside.  Eventually, we realize that the other person is not completing us as disappointment and resentment rush in.   Now we have entered the dark night of the relationship.  We then begin to harbor blame, resentment and hatred against the other person for not being the fantasy we created in our mind.  It is this resentment that will eventually destroy our relationships unless we do something about it.

The Only Person Who Can Complete You is YOU!

Doing something about the resentment, many discover all the ways in which they have been socialized to seek outside of themselves for love and completion, along with all the ways in which they believe that love is something that has to be earned or that can be denied them.  What often arises out of these false perceptions is co-dependency.   If you are the one who has given away your power, hoping in return for completion and love, the invitation is to take your power back.  This means identifying all the ways in which you have remained silent, ignored or suppressed your needs or your truth, stayed in the background, forsaken your needs and tended to the needs of others at the expense of your own needs.

Welcome Perimenopause and Menopause

For women, compounding, hastening and perhaps even catalyzing this invitation to tend to ones own needs is the advent of menopause.  When women become aware (consciously or unconsciously) that their time for childbearing has come to an end, they begin to see their lives through a dramatically different lens.  During the vulnerable years of childbearing, and while the children are still tender, vulnerable little beings, a veil stands between a woman’s sight and truth.  All of the woman’s energy and attention is directed at the survival of the children.  Once the children become viable, and the woman knows she is done bearing children, the veil collapses.  Every personal need, creative drive, personal desire, wish, hope and dream that was placed on the shelf for the sake of the needs of the children and family come tumbling down.  And now, the woman’s inner drive is directed toward the rediscovery of her own truth, her own needs and the discovery of the vocation which will provide her fulfillment in the second half of her life.  Wife/Mom suddenly becomes a different person and the husband/children are left to wonder, “What the heck just happened?”  This is often when the threads of co-dependency begin to unravel and the rules of the household begin to change.  (please note that men have their own version of this midlife transition – as I understand it, it is a departure from the role of provider to the role of enjoyer…sadly our culture and our current expectations of gender roles does not do a good job of supporting this transition either!)

Undoing Co-Dependency

Whether it is the man or the woman who has been the partner bargaining their own needs for the illusion of completion and love, the process is the same.  Co-dependent behaviors are identified, and we begin the process of changing how we act and respond in our relationships.  We begin by identifying our own truth, our own needs, our own dreams, hopes and desires.  Then we begin to exercise these truths.  We name and claim our needs to those around us.  We set boundaries around our need for “ME” time.  We learn to say no to those things not supportive of our needs and we begin to make time for those things that are life-giving for us.  We stop rushing to the side of those around us every time they seem to be in distress, and we empower them to learn how to tend to their own needs.  We stop doing for others what they are capable of doing for themselves.

A Rude Awakening

For those who have been trained by our co-dependency to expect us to take care of them or to forsake our own needs for theirs, this is a time of RUDE AWAKENING!  We have trained our loved ones well, and now we are changing the rules.  The first response is often bewilderment which then turns into rebellion and often outright war!  “What do you mean you’re not going to make my breakfast?”  “But you’ve always picked out my clothes for me.”  “What good are art classes at your age?”  “You want to go back to school….for what!?”  “Why would you want time for yourself…don’t you love us?”  For those who have been trained to forsake their own needs for the needs of those they love, this can be a difficult transition as the demons of guilt whisper, and sometimes scream in our ears, “You are abandoning your family….they need you….this is your job…..”  In response to this, I will share with you a mantra that was once given to me by a great teacher:

The most loving thing you can do for those you love is to do what is most loving for yourself.

Every time you claim your own need, every time you set boundaries around your own time, every time you stop doing something for someone that they are capable of doing for themselves, you are teaching them how NOT to be co-dependent.  You are modeling for them healthy, interdependent behavior. And you are empowering them to be GROWN UPS!

Lauri Lumby mentors individuals and couples in their journey of birthing their Soul, which includes navigating the difficult transition of the dark night of the relationship.  To set up your own one-on-one session, call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.

Posted in Forgiveness, guilt

The Dreaded Life Review

In yesterday’s blog, I wrote on the topic of forgiveness and the on-going, figure eight shaped process we are invited to undergo in that journey.  In today’s blog, I explore more deeply the stage of forgiveness that includes what I call, “The Dreaded Life Review,” the time when our “life sins” show up and ask for our compassion.

 

 

What Happens When We Hurt Somebody?

As human beings, we are programmed to seek out connection and to work toward cultivating healthy, intimate, cooperative and collaborative relationships with our fellow human beings.  The root cause and destination of this search is our very survival.  We cannot continue as a species without the kind of intimate connections that lead to procreation, neither can we survive (very well) on our own.  Like wolves, we are pack animals and thrive when existing within cooperative community.  As such, in most human beings (sociopaths being the exception) there are certain biophysical and chemical reactions within the body that work toward ensuring this kind of intimate, cooperative connection.  When we stray from the path of harmonious connectivity and do or say or act in such a way as to harm already existing connections or in ways that might prevent harmonious connections, there is a feeling that arises.  This feeling arises to alert us to the fact that either we have done something to harm these fragile connections or that someone has done something to us that threatens healthy connectivity.  I call this feeling SHAME.  In other words, when we hurt someone, we feel shame.  When someone does something to hurt us (especially as it pertains to our own healthy boundaries), we feel shame.  This feeling arises naturally as a way to alert us to the potential danger of disconnect and to invite us to work toward restoring a healthy and harmonious connection (or to recognize where healthy, intimate connectivity is not possible or where danger, in fact, might be present).  The problem with shame is that instead of simply observing it as a signal, we internalize it and turn it into the destructive emotion of guilt – judging and punishing ourselves and judging and punishing others.

 

The Dreaded Life Review

When we internalize this benevolent and helpful inner signal, and turn it against ourselves in the form of judgment and guilt, then we get what I call “the dreaded life review.”  In this life review, we get to see and observe and remember…sometimes in excruciating detail, all the “sins” of our lives….all the ways in which we have consciously or unconsciously hurt or injured a fellow human being.  If we are judgmental and critical of self or tend toward self-loathing, this dreaded life review can be an exercise in self-flagellation and self-punishment.  “Woe is me, I am a sinner.  Woe is me, I am undeserving of love, forgiveness.  Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna eat some worms……and I deserve it for how terrible I have been and continue to be.”  ARGH!!!!!  This little exercise in self-loathing is us pointing the finger of judgment and blame upon ourselves.  And if we are “God-fearing” people, we are sure to imagine that God is shaking HIS finger of blame at us and just waiting to hurl the fire and brimstone of eternal punishment our way.

 

God-fearing vs. God-loving

The good news is that the only one punishing us for our “sinful” behavior is ourselves.  We are the one pointing the finger of judgement and blame while God is simply there holding us and waiting for us to ask to be released from the judgment that we are so good at heaping upon ourselves.  Like the story Jesus told of the Prodigal Son, it was the son who judged himself for having chosen separation from his father.  The father, simply welcomed his son home with open arms and held a great celebration, never shaking the finger of judgment or blame.  If Jesus understood God to be like the father in the story, then isn’t this the God we too are invited to know?  I think so.

 

Healing the Life Review

So, when the dreaded life review rears its ugly head, and we are tempted to fall into the pit of self-loathing, there is one thing we must do…….FORGIVE ourselves.  We are invited to look at the places in our lives where we have injured the fragile, intimate human connections and offer them for release.  We are invited to examine the deeper fears and unhealed wounds that may have caused us to hurt another and lift that up for healing and release.  And we are invited to STOP judging, punishing and hurling fire and brimstone upon ourselves.  The good news is again, we are not alone in this as there is a benevolent, loving, compassionate Source that is just waiting for us to lift the guilt off ourselves and place it in God’s loving hands where it can be healed and released, freeing us to return to the healthy and life-giving process of forgiveness, absolution and reconciliation.

 

Where have you experienced the “dreaded life review?”

Where are you tempted to indulge in self-judgment, punishment and self-loathing?

Where are you being invited to give your self-judgment and guilt over for healing and release?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Surprise Blog! If They Only Knew

While I promised a twelve day hiatus, it seems the Holy Spirit has other plans.  In today’s blog, we explore the shadow aspect of ourselves, the part we keep hidden, protected, sheltered, the part we rarely show to the outside world and if we do, only to those with whom we feel TOTALLY safe.

Surprise!

I promised a hiatus from blogging…but this is one that will not let me alone….so here it is!  Surprise!  This blog includes a confession, some stark observations and a revelation of deep, intimate truths…..BECAUSE…. I sense the readers (you), have similar secrets you are hiding!  🙂 

What People Think About Me

As many of my readers know, this has been a year of OVERWHELMING change.  I had a book published.  I shifted the focus of my day to day work.  I moved out of my home of 13 years.  Lived in a friends basement for 50 days.  Found a new home.  Moved my office.  And…..the focal point of all this change – divorce.  As I’ve been riding the rollercoaster of all this change…here are the words I’ve been receiving from loving family members and friends, “You are so strong.  You will be fine.  You are so courageous, you will be able to handle all of this.  I admire your strength and your courage.”  These are beautiful and inspiring words and definitely reflective of the person I show to the outside world – strong, confident, on top of it all, focused, determined, disciplined, independent, courageous.  And yes, these are some of my strengths…..sometimes.   There is also another part of me that is NONE of those things. 

If They Only Knew

While I recognize the strength and courage in me that seems to arise in the midst of life’s deepest crap…and I appreciate other people’s affirmation of these gifts, there is also a part of me that wants to run screaming when I hear people utter these words….because, I know the deeper truth.  Throughout this journey….I have been SCARED SHITLESS!  Not a day has gone by that I haven’t awoken to the face of fear staring me dead in the face and wanted to crawl back into bed or find the nearest hole to climb into.  This is scary stuff…getting divorced, moving, hoping and praying that you will be able to pay the bills on a Spiritual Director’s and author’s unpredictable wage.  Then throw in the kids’ grief, relationships issues, parents who are sick and having surgeries and you have a recipe for sheer terror.  AND…I HAVE FELT IT!  So part of my secret….is I am scared to death and fear has been my constant companion for (honestly) 46 years!  YIKES!   The good news is that because of the work I do and the teachers I have encountered, I have tools for dealing with this fear, but that doesn’t mean it goes away!  I am human.  I am scared.  And most days I don’t really feel strong, confident or courageous.

The Other Truth

The other truth has to do with what I am going to call, “vulnerability.”   I think because people perceive me as “strong” and “courageous” they also think I do not get hurt.  HA……That could not be further from the truth.  While I may appear strong, impervious to injury, confident on the outside….the truth is that I am deeply sensitive not only to other people’s feelings, etc. but to things said to me.  Many things I have learned to slough off as “that is their sh..t, not mine,” but there are also some things that hurt me deeply.  I know that on the highest level, I am “allowing” myself to be hurt and that if I get hurt it is because someone else’s words are triggering an unhealed wound within me, but at the end of the day, I am still human and some people are just mean or at the very least, thoughtless.  It is here where I experience hurt on the deepest level – when people are mean, cruel, and go after the things that they know are my fears and insecurities…or when they attack my personal beliefs, professional abilities or use my own words against me.  These are the hurts that are hardest for me to overcome because they fly past the place of comprehension.  I do not understand meanness.  I never have and I’m not sure I ever will.  Now, I understand that sometimes we all slip…we get caught up in our own fears, false perceptions, ego attachments and say things unwittingly to hurt another….but then we check ourselves, take responsibility for our behavior and the fear that drove that behavior, then we make amends…we say we are sorry.  Some people never do this work and some are just mean on purpose….these are the hurts that cause the deepest wounds and at the end of the day, make me very sad.  So, I’m not sure if this is the appropriate response, but it is in the face of this kind of meanness, in those who refuse to take responsibility for their actions that I have exercised my right to establish clear and impenetrable boundaries.  I used to feel guilty for this kind of “cutting off” in relationships, but I have learned that we do have the right to be safe and to be honored and respected for who we are as a person.  We also have the right to healthy intimate relationships and the right to say “no” to those things not supportive of that right.  Is this just another example of “beware a woman scorned?”  Maybe…but at this place in my journey, it is the best that I can do.

What is the face you show to the outside world?

What are the deeper truths that you hide within you, in secret?

How can you be present to what you hold in the light and what you hide in the shadows?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Being Human

The Cold Black Hole of Hatred

What do we do with the negative emotions of the human experience?  In today’s blog, we explore the emotion of hatred.



Setting the bar

While the perfectionist in me has set the spiritual evolution bar to be situated somewhere between the Dalai Lama and Jesus Christ, real life continues to remind me that I am nothing more than human.  I have grown accustomed to the revelations of my humanness in emotions such as grief and resentment and in personality traits such as impatience and rigidity.  This weekend, however, I was shocked and surprised to come face to face with the cold hard reality of an emotion I had thought long ago healed.  This emotion is hatred.

Exploring Hatred

The revelation of hatred as being something that still exists within me came through a series of journaling exercises and life experiences.  I won’t bore you with the details, but I was shocked when suddenly I felt all the energy of my body, my mind and my spirit contract and hurl itself into the center of my chest where it became the cold black hole of hatred.  My eyes turned black, the tendons along the sides of my neck and on the top of my shoulders unfurled like the poisonous lizards from the movie Holes, black spikes like a medieval flail sprung up along my back, my fists and jaw clenched and I’m sure that smoke was coming out of my ears.  I felts as if I were to open my mouth, a swarm of black nails would fly out in pursuit of the objects of my hatred.  And I can tell you that if I actually possessed this superhero power, in that moment, I would have employed it!  I do have to say, however, that tapping into the cold depths of hatred was actually terrifying.  It is a feeling that quite frankly scared the crap out of me.

What do you do with Hatred?

Considering I am not usually one to act violently, I’m pretty sure I will not be acting on the hatred that recently surfaced.  I’m not even sure I totally understand this emotion.  It feels akin to resentment, which I have recently been invited to recognize as a natural response to our needs not being met.  Hatred, however, feels like RESENTMENT times A MILLION.  While there may be elements in this hatred related to needs not being met, it feels like something more than this.  Normally, I would explore compassion, empathy, forgiveness as possible paths to healing this hatred, but with this hatred, there seems to be something about the lack of culpability and a distinct intention to harm.  How does one have empathy or compassion for cruelty?  These are the questions I ponder when I look into the mirror and see the black steel eyes of hatred staring back at me.

Hatred and Boundaries

If I consider hatred to be the much uglier sister to resentment, then I am invited to explore the possibility that hatred might be arising to ask me to set some new boundaries.  The serenity prayer comes to mind, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” I have come to recognize that I cannot change the instigators of the hatred.  I can, however, change my relationship to these instigators.  So perhaps this is the invitation….to recognize the hatred as a BIG HUGE RED FLAG that says, “YOU DO NOT NEED TO PUT UP WITH CRUELTY!”    Holy crap, now that is a revelation!  And this is exactly what my buddy, the Dalai Lama did in the face of intolerable cruelty at the hand of Chairman Mao and his communist regime, he left.  HHHMMMMM  Maybe I will grow up to be the Dalai Lama afterall …  😉

Where have you experienced hatred in your life?

How did you choose to respond?

How can the experience of hatred be used as a tool for effective healing and change?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

PS:  The picture of Sasuke Uchiha above is in honor of my daughter who LOVESSSSSSS  him!!!