Posted in Midlife Journey

Midlife and Menopause – Confronting our Shadow

The purpose of a midlife crisis, perimenopause and menopause (from a spiritual perspective) is to move us beyond childbearing to birthing ourselves…and this is as true for men as it is for women.  During midlife and menopause, we are invited to leave behind the life we have known to make room for the new life that is trying to be born through us.  In birthing our new selves, we are birthing our Soul – the unique way we are creatively gifted to find meaning, purpose, connection and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we find fulfillment by contributing to the betterment of our worldOne of the tasks we must complete in the journey of midlife and menopause is to confront our shadow – all of the parts of ourselves we have rejected or kept hidden and bring them to the light.  Today’s blog is about confronting the shadow.

midlife-menopause-shadow

Disney’s Maleficent, coming in 2014.  (I can’t wait!!!!!)

Midlife and Menopause – Bats in the House

Last night, in the middle of a terrific phone conversation with one of my friends, I heard my children screaming.  Then I heard pounding footsteps on the stairs and my son burst into my room, interrupting my conversation with, “Mom….holy sh..t…..there is a bat in the house!!!!”  I offered my friend a quick goodbye and went to investigate.  I calmed down the screaming kids and then we went in search of the bat.  We found him…..HUGE, furry and black….flying back and forth across my sons bedroom.  Now we were all screaming.  🙂  I tried to be brave and found some butterfly nets and an album cover hoping to catch and release the bat, but its erratic flight and the fear of being bit overpowered my courage.  So….I cashed in one of my princess cards, called my neighbor and he calmly and valiantly caught and released the bat.  (Thank you Jason!)   This morning, as I meditated on the spiritual meaning of bats, I was reminded about the midlife journey through the shadow.

Midlife and Menopause – Confronting the Shadow

“The Shadow” has been defined in a variety of ways, depending on what school of psychology or philosophy one subscribes to.  I think of the shadow as all the parts of ourselves that we have not brought to the light.  Using this definition, shadow consists of all of the parts of ourselves we keep hidden away, the parts of ourselves we reject and the parts of ourselves we repress and are perhaps not even conscious of.  Shadow can also be made up of the counterparts to our gifts – underdeveloped skills that if cultivated might help to bring better balance into our lives.  Let me give you some examples.

1) As an Intuitive/Feeler (on the Myers-Briggs personality profile), the sensate/thinker could be considered as an aspect of my shadow – inviting me to balance intuition with facts, figures and evidence, feelings with logic and reason.

2) Anger and Rage make up part of my shadow – emotions I feared and rejected as a child and therefore rejected within myself….it wasn’t ok to be angry.  In midlife, I have had to make friends with anger and find an appropriate way to process it in my life.

3) Perfectionism – as a recovering perfectionist, imperfection is my shadow.  I reject the parts of myself that are imperfect – depression, anxiety, panic attacks, the part of me that harbors resentment, the part of me that wants vengeance, the part of me that is tempted to be bad.  In midlife, I have had to confront these perceived imperfections and again…make friends with them.

4) Other unsavory qualities…..during times of overwhelming stress, certain behaviors and hidden characteristics showed up in me and I was SHOCKED to see how I responded.  These were things I judged others as doing…but would “never do this” myself.  Well…..guess what?  I did.  More imperfections to make peace with.

5) The shadow can also be a bit fun…..like my secret obsession with tattoos, Kat Von D and Disney villains.  All of these show up as glimpses of parts of my soul that want to be more fully integrated in my everyday life.  I want to be a rockstar, wear leather and have my whole body tattooed…..but I don’t because it is only part of me….not all of who I am.  🙂

Midlife and Menopause – the Gift in the Shadow

The gift in uncovering and more fully integrating our shadow is that we become more whole, more fully integrated, we experience greater contentment with ourselves and we might be happier and have more fun.  By integrating our shadow, we also have more energy to do what we love because we have stopped using up all our psychic energy keeping our shadow at bay. Bringing the shadow into the light and allowing it room to roam frees us to explore and enjoy our creative gifts and be of better service to the world.

What does your shadow consist of?

Lauri Ann Lumby provides guidance and support for those traversing the midlife journey through one-on-one mentoring, workshops and classes.  For more information, contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.

Posted in Being Human

The Fruitless Search for Ego-lessness

Yesterday, I was reminded, yet again, that it is not for the sake of egolessness that we are here…..but to be human.

The Relentless Pursuit of Ego-lessness….and pop-culture’s addiction to perfectionism

Yep.  I’ve been there.  With both feet, body, mind and spirit I jumped on board the pop-culture Ego-eradication craze, reading every book, embracing every practice, watching every movie in the hopes of being freed of my ego.  Hmmmm I might have even written a book reflective of this desire.   😉  And….I am the perfect victim.  My Perfectionist LOVES the idea that with the right kind and right amount of spiritual practice, learning, etc. I might indeed become perfect….free of ego….an enlightened being, spiritual teacher and master.  All of this has been the perfect fuel for the inner critic and judge that wags her finger of shame and blame at me pointing out all the places where I am still imperfect….all those places where I still judge, where I become angry, harbor resentment, feel pain, grieve losses, hurt those I love, lose my temper, etc. etc. etc.  “But if I just pray and meditate enough all of this will be forgiven, I will finally be free and I will have the life I dream of filled with happiness, joy, opportunities for creative expression and I will be fulfilled, safe, secure and rich.”  This is what all these teachings promise, right?  But there is one thing missing in many of these pop-culture ego-eradication teachings: the fact that we are not here to be EGOLESS……  We are here to BE HUMAN!

Being Human

So…what DOES it mean to be human?  As much as we might like to deny it….being human means we get to experience ALL OF IT.  As a Divine Spirit being Human…..we get all of it:  Suffering.  Pain.  Worry.  Loss.  Deception.  Betrayal.  Our hearts get broken.  We fall apart.  Really bad things happen to really good people.  And really bad people get really good things.  We lose our minds.  We hunger.  We experience poverty.  We know injustice.  We might have to agree to things we don’t really believe we want to do.  We give our power away.  People rob our power from us.  We get sick.  And we die.  While we might want all of this to go away and to be freed from the reality of the human condition….this is NOT why we are here.  No matter how hard we pray or how much we engage our spiritual practice…all of these things will continue to happen.  I’m guessing even the Dalai Lama struggles with anger and resentment at times.  I know Jesus did.  So if even our greatest teachers struggle with being human….why do we think we should be any different?

No Congratulations Necessary

Yesterday, after setting my foot along a path that I have been avoiding, dreading, and not at all wanting to accept, I was congratulated for being a “great ego-less leader and teacher.”  BAH!  Egoless my ass!  I was mad as hell.  Frustrated.  Angry.  Ashamed.   Disappointed.  Grieving.  I was anything BUT egoless.  Instead I wrapped my arms around my ego as she was biting, kicking and screaming and set my foot along the path.  “You can rant and rave all you want,” I said to her, “we are going anyway.  I don’t know why this is where we are going or for what purpose, but we are going.  And….we’ll make the best of it.”  So, I forged on, in spite of my ego; and perhaps this is the best that we can do.

Lauri Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Enneagram, Lessons

Embracing Temperance

Today’s blog continues the discussion on “Holding the Tension,” specifically, how to create balance in our lives and not being driven by the sometimes chaotic drive of our emotions while still allowing ourselves to feel.

Hidden in the Cards

Yesterday unexpectedly became a LAURI DAY for me. I completed the tasks I had planned for the day by 10am and then I had nothing to do and no kids in the house to please.  So, I embraced this as a time to read, reflect, rest, ritualize.  One of the choices I made that fell into the ritualize and reflect quadrant was to pull a card from my inspirational card deck.  The card I pulled was TEMPERANCE.  Traditionally, we think of temperance from a material perspective – not overindulging, taking only what we need and nothing more, sharing with others.  In the past two years, I have had NO CHOICE but to live from a place of temperance materially.  So, the meaning of this card had to be mental, emotional or spiritual.  It turns out that for me, the invitation to embrace temperance covered all three.

Emotional Intelligence

A little background:  As a recovering perfectionist, a Type 1 on the Enneagram, emotional intelligence is something that I have had to learn.  When rooted in my compulsion (as most of us are until we begin the journey of self-awareness), I had to be perfect.  Perfect meant being Mary Poppins – not showing emotion, being impeccably dressed in Talbot’s conservativism, collars buttoned up tight, shoes laced up to the knees.  To the world, I had to be put together and unflappable.  The only threat to this unflappable Lauri was the on-going tide and swirling current of chaotic emotions that were tumbling around beneath my stoic exterior.  The only way I knew how to survive the chaos within was to IGNORE IT.  The problem with ignoring emotions is that our Inner Spirit, our Inner Truth needs to be experienced, needs to be made known and when we ignore who we really are, when we ignore our truth, we feel RESENTMENT and ANGER.  As such, these were the only two feelings I really knew and as a perfectionist, the WORST thing you can feel or be is angry.  Now throw some shame and guilt on top of that messy pile of emotions and all you get it YUK!

Learning by Feeling

In perfect universal timing, the following showed up in my email box this morning as a reminder of the journey toward emotional intelligence for the Perfectionist/Reformer/Type 1:

The overall keynote of Ones is objectivity.
Ones attempt to be objective, rational, and fair-minded and to be unmoved by
personal desires or private passions that would interfere with their obligation
to meet their own standards. Notice today when you are being overly objective.
(Understanding the Enneagram, 132)

As these words remind, part of my growth journey (and the journey for many) has been to let go of these standards of rigidity and embrace the swirling chaos of emotions that flows beneath the icy surface of my temperament.  Since the birth of my children, the journey toward emotional intelligence has been my focus (not necessarily by choice, mind you!) –  learning to FEEL, ACCEPT, BE OK with what I was feeling, when I was feeling it.  I had to learn to feel joy, happiness, love.  I also had to learn how to feel the pain of loss, disappointment, grief, betrayal.  And I had to learn the source of all the resentment that was locked up in my body and I had to be ok with anger. In contemporary terms, I had to embrace my inner Kat Von D.  Not a journey for the faint of heart…..but necessary and valuable.  I would say I’m maybe 75% along the path of emotional intelligence (if we can even measure this) and at this point, I can say it has been totally worth it.  I don’t think I’d be able to do the work I do or write what I write if I wasn’t comfortable with the sea of emotions that flow through my consciousness….and that I suspect flows through yours as well.

The Catch 22 and Temperance

But, there is a Catch 22 to this discovery and acceptance of our emotions.  That is the temptation to get swept up, carried away and controlled by our emotions.  When we are too attentive to our emotions, especially those that might be rooted in fear, it is difficult not to react to them.  For me, this reacting to my emotions presents itself through compulsive behaviors:  spending time on meaningless, non-productive activities rather than doing the tasks that really need my attention, spending too much time on emails, Facebook, chat sites, worrying and fretting about things over which I have no control, seeking for “surety and security” in an unsafe world.  This is where my self-appointed Board of Directors’ wisdom comes in handy:  HOLD THE TENSION.  (for more on that, see Monday’s blog!).  Instead of reacting to my fearful, anxiety-ridden, worrisome emotions, I am invited to SIT WITH THEM….FEEL THEM….ACCEPT THEM…EMBRACE THEM.  Instead of running to compulsive behaviors as a way to fix, eradicate or solve an emotion….I am asked to BE WITH the emotion and ALLOW IT.  This, I believe, is the definition of TEMPERANCE and a great reminder for me today as I face a weekend of non-activity.  There is nothing I have to do….fix….or heal.  I can simply be……happiness, joy, contentment, anxiety, worry, fear and all and everything will be ok.

How comfortable are you with your emotions?

Where do you find yourself tempted to react to your fear-based emotions?

How might you practice Temperance today?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Enneagram, Healing, Inspiration, Lessons

From Woe to Wonder

Today’s blog explores the journey of the perfectionist and how the Enneagram can be a tool to help us change our perception from woe to wonder.  (PS  Thank you to Stevie Nicks for being my inspiration for WONDER!)

Ennea-What?

The Enneagram is one of the tools that I use with clients and students to help them identify their own unique temperment, their soul’s purpose and to help them find healing of certain compulsive behaviors or means of perception.  To learn more about the Enneagram, go to:  http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/.

Confessions of a Perfectionist

I cannot share the Enneagram with others if I haven’t and don’t continue to use this tool for my own journey of transformation….and boy have I!  According to the Enneagram philosophy, I am a PERFECTIONIST.  As a perfectionist (point 1 on the Enneagram), I see the world through the lens of “What is wrong here?”  While this lens has its gifts in its ability to identify where improvements or changes can be made in a certain situation or experience, it can also be a curse, especially when the “what is wrong here?” is something that I do not have the power to change or when I turn that question on myself, “What is wrong with me?” or “What did I do wrong or what could I have done better or differently.”  Again, there is a gift as it is through this perception that I have been driven to personal growth and transformation.  The curse, however, is when the drive to personal growth becomes self-loathing.

If you are interested in learning more about the Enneagram and how it might help you in your journey, contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com

From Perfectionist to Martyr

The Enneagram has helped me to understand that when I am in a place of extreme stress or anxiety, my perfectionism turns on itself and I move toward my point of disintegration – The Martyr (point 4 on the Enneagram).  The martyr is all about self-loathing, woe is me, victimhood.  The martyr feels misunderstood, alone, rejected, abandoned, unloved.  “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, I’m gonna eat some worms.”  When my perfectionist turns on itself and I become the martyr, I dress in black, wear kohl colored eye shadow and liner, mope around the house, lick my wounds, write dark and dreadful poetry, listen to Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson and spend a lot of time moaning and feeling sorry for myself.  I really don’t like my martyr too much…but she doesn’t really like me either…so there!

If you are interested in learning more about the Enneagram and how it might help you in your journey, contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com

From Martyr to Enthusiast

The Enneagram has also taught me that in order to heal my perfectionist and her tendency to martyrdom, I am invited to move toward my point of integration – Point Seven or The Enthusiast.  The Enthusiast is the person that sees the silver lining in every cloud, looks at the world through the lens of “what is good here?” and is able to see through the challenges of life to the good that can come out of it.  The Enthusiast moves through life with a graceful ease.  They are joyful and optimistic about the world and their place in it.  They trust the movement of life and are able to yield to the Divine that is carrying them toward their hopeful future.  The Enthusiast in its higher state is the exact opposite of the Martyr.

If you are interested in learning more about the Enneagram and how it might help you in your journey, contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com

Moving from Woe to Wonder

I recently had an opportunity to experience this journey from perfectionist to martyr to enthusiast first hand.  After getting “dumped” (that’s my martyr talking) by my boyfriend of 10 months, I plunged headfirst into the downward spiral of perfectionist to martyr.  There is nothing like a heartbreak to plunge us into the depths of our fears, anxieties, unhealed wounds and COMPULSIONS. “What did I do wrong?  What could I have done better?  How could he not love me?  What is wrong with me that he can’t love me?  Maybe no one will ever love me?  Maybe I’m not deserving of love.  Is love even real?  How did I get that wrong?  How did I miss the signs?  Why did I ignore the signs?  What is wrong with me?”   BLAH BLAH BLAH.  But this past week, I suddenly understood what I have spent nearly twenty years avoiding.  There is a remedy to the darkness of martyrdom….and that is to shift my perspective from WOE to WONDER.  Instead of being taken into the dark swirling mass of martyrdom, I am invited to move toward Point 7 – the Enthusiast.  Here, I am invited to look at the relationship and the breakup for:  What is good here?  What are the gifts that came out of the experience?  What are the healings that took place?  How did I grow?  What did I learn? And moving past the relationship:  What are the new opportunities I get to experience?  What are the different choices I can choose to make next time?  How might the next time be even better than the last?  Instead of looking at the relationship and the breakup through the lens of doom, I can look at it through the lens of hope.  Now I get it!  I’m not saying that my martyr is totally done feeling sorry for herself, but at least I understand that when I am tempted to plunge into the black, all I have to do is flick my magic wand and look at life through the lens of wonder.  In the meantime, I continue my intentions of forgiveness  (of other and of self) while enjoying the freedom to more diligently pursue my personal and professional dreams, which by the way are filled with mystery, magic, wonder and a sprinkle of fairydust.  🙂

If you are interested in learning more about the Enneagram and how it might help you in your journey, contact Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com. 

Through what lens do you look at the world?

How are you being invited to look at the world through the lens of wonder?

Lauri Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Being Human, Enneagram, grief, Inspiration

Seeking the Inner Gem – from Perfectionist to the Muse

Practically Perfect in Every Way!

For the first 45 years of my life, I tried to be perfect.  Apparently the next 45 are about learning to be human.  My innate, inner perfectionist offers a sigh of resignation and frustration over this awareness.  SIGH.  While a student in the Commissioned Lay Ministry program I was introduced to a profound spiritual tool called The Enneagram.  Through the assessment and careful discernment with our program director, it was determined that I am a Type 1 on the Enneagram – the Perfectionist.  This fit in perfectly with the attitude I had embraced for my entire life up to that point – I had to be perfect.  As Mary Poppins (still my all-time favorite Disney movie!) would say, “Practically perfect in every way.”  This perfectionist manifested in every situation in my life, most especially in the world of emotions – as a perfectionist, emotions were not allowed – with one exception.

Resentment and Anger

While still living as a perfectionist, I only knew only two emotions – resentment and anger.  These were the only tools I had to deal with issues of loss, disappointment, rejection, transition and change.  When things didn’t go my way – rage.  When I felt rejected or undervalued – resentment.  When I experienced a loss – anger.  While these emotions in and of themselves are not bad, for a perfectionist who can only be perfect, these emotions presented an additional challenge – GUILT, SELF-LOATHING and SHAME.  One who is angry, resentful, rage-filled is not in any way perfect.  So, wags the finger of the inner critic shaming and blaming me for not being perfect.  ARGH!  It is a vicious cycle to be sure.  One thing I learned about the Type 1 on the Enneagram is that rage and anger become our ego-fixation.  Harboring, cultivating, nurturing resentment and anger creates a vicious downward spiral of separation (from self and others) and self-loathing.  BLECH

Waking up?

Somewhere along the line, I woke up.  Rather, the Universe woke me up in the form of a significant loss that happened in close proximity to a trauma and post-partum.  Suddenly, my anger and rage became the paralysis of depression.  I sought help through a therapist and my Spiritual Director and it became apparent that I had a lifetime of grief that needed to be processed, released and healed and that in order to process this grief, I would need to be present to my true feelings.  Suddenly, the Talbot’s attired, tied up tight, in control, master of my destiny Lauri toppled to the ground and a new Lauri had to be born…one that could be vulnerable, have feelings, experience pain, loss, disappointment.  Once this was identified, the dam burst and I was flooded with real life.  YIKES!

The Martyr and the Muse

In using the Enneagram as a tool for spiritual transformation, we learn about our Point of Disintegration and The Inner Gem.  Ironically, they are one and the same.  When the Perfectionist is deeply imbedded in our compulsion, we gravitate toward our point of disintegration – Type 4 on the Enneagram, here referred to as The Martyr.  The Martyr is the suffering, woeful, hopeless romantic.  “Oh woe is me, I am doomed, no one understands me and no one will ever love me.”  Over the course of my life as a perfectionist, I have become well acquainted with the Martyr.  The martyr feels EVERYTHING in spades – every slight, every criticism, every sideways glance, every perceived rejection as daggers to the heart.  We are mortally wounded (or so we think) by the slings and arrows of life.  Everything feels like an attack against us and our gifts.  What we don’t yet know, however, is that hidden within our Inner Moaning Myrtle, is the MUSE and that this is the Inner Gem we are invited to seek, discover, cultivate and embrace.  The Muse is he or she who FEELS the ups and downs of life, who experiences the fullness of emotions and who gives creative expression to these emotional life experiences so that others may be inspired, comforted, healed, challenged, empowered.  The difference between the Martyr and the Muse is that the Martyr is overcome by the emotions that they feel, the Muse is present to their essential quality of Equanimity  – able to journey through the peaks and valleys of the human experience gracefully and no worse for wear.

Still Learning

I am acutely aware of this dance between the martyr and the muse as I process a recent and significant loss.  On one hand, bombarded by the chaotic and unpredictable journey of grief, I feel compelled to crawl into a corner of victimhood – O Woe is Me….nobody loves me.  On the other hand, I am inspired to see what it looks like to allow myself to feel – to be present to the grief and to employ the gifts of my inner muse to give creative expression to that journey – perhaps with the intent of inspiring and supporting others one day.  At any rate, I still feel as if I am learning….trying to silence the inner voices of rejection and shame and simply be present to the loss.  To cry.  To rage.  To bargain.  To deny.  And to write to it all.  I’m hoping that in doing this, my Moaning Myrtle becomes magnificent, beautiful and inspiring like one of my favorite Type 4’s – Sarah McLachlan.  And as her songs have brought healing to my broken heart, maybe one day my poems will do the same for another.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dADn6KDS-s&feature=related

Posted in Being Human, Healing, Inspiration

Replacing the Inner Critic with Love

Hi.  My name is Lauri.  I am a perfectionist, driven by my addiction to my inner critic.  I admit that I am powerless over my addiction to rejection and that because of this addiction, my life has become unmanageable.  I believe in a power greater than myself that can restore me to sanity.  I turn this addiction over to the God of my understanding.   And this is when true miracles happen!

The Demons of Self-Rejection and Self-Loathing

All of my life, I have been plagued by a voice that seems to come at me from both directions – both from inside of me and from outside of me.  This is the voice of the Inner Critic – that big, mean, Lauri that stands outside of me wagging the finger of blame and speaking within me eating away at my self worth.  “It is all your fault.  There is something wrong with you.  If you aren’t perfect, people won’t love you.  If you work really hard, you might be loved.  If you aren’t loved, it means you aren’t enough or your efforts weren’t good enough.”  This is the inner critic that for my whole life has told me that there is something wrong with me, that I am not enough and that I am not good enough.  This is the voice that compelled me as a child to embrace the compulsion of perfectionism – I had to be the straight A student, the top achiever, the teacher’s pet, the star, the best…at everything.  This voice served me well in academics where I naturally thrived, but beyond that, that voice was a B.I.T.C.H.  When I couldn’t throw or catch a ball, she said, “I told you there was something wrong with you.”  When I couldn’t draw, “I told you you had no talent.”  When I forgot the second movement of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata at my senior recital, “Who told you you could play piano?”  When no one asked me out for prom, “I told you you were ugly.”  When the people around me were hurt, angry, depressed, scared, the voice told me, “It must be your fault….something you’ve done.”  ARGH!  I hate that voice and all the ways she has made me feel like C.R.A.P.

Origin of the Voice?

Psychologists would tell me that this voice of the Inner Critic came about through my childhood – an overly critical or overbearing parent or something like that.  The Enneagram, however, offers a softer and kinder possibility.  The voice of the Inner Critic was something that I was born with.  While the development of its shadow side may have been supported by certain family of origin dynamics, the Inner Critic’s source of origin (according to the Enneagram) is the unique lens I was born with and through which I perceive my world and my life experiences.  Hidden within the voice of the critic is the gift that I was born to share with the world.  The trick is to find healing for the spiritual wound of separation (for more on that, see my book Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy), so that the shadow side of the gift may soften and relax and the gift may emerge.

Elusive Healing

I have worked for YEARS on trying to heal that wound of separation and quiet the voice of the Inner Critic.  While my perfectionist has relaxed and I am WAY better than I used to be, I have still found myself plagued by that darn Inner voice wagging the finger of blame at me.  With the recent end of a love relationship, that darn Inner Critic has gotten especially loud and annoying.  As I have been moving through the expected faces of grief, the Inner Critic has been beating the crap out of me and on Monday, I finally realized how mean she really is and how much I no longer want her to be a part of  my life.  For the first time, I PRAYED for healing and asked God to take this burden away from me.

Ask and it Shall Be Given

As I finally collapsed into a helpless heap of frustration and admitted I was powerless over this darn Inner Critic and finally asked for God’s help, miracles began to happen.  Through a series of experiences, I found the Inner Critic began to become quieter.  I re-discovered some meditation tools that helped me to further calm that inner voice and allow myself to remember a deeper state of peace and love.  Then something AMAZING happened – three separate individuals (spiritual teachers) in three separate conversations offered similar advice, “Give love to yourself.  Shower yourself in love.  Tend to your own need for love.”  It wasn’t until the third offering on the third day that I GOT IT.  And this is what I saw:

Standing outside of me was me.  At first the outside me was the Inner Critic, wagging her finger of self-hatred at me.  Then, she suddenly changed.  She lowered her arm, turned to face me, looked into my eyes, embraced me, and loved me.

The Inner Critic was now the Inner Lover.  Holding me.  Loving me.  Supporting me.  Adoring me.  For the first time in my life, I received the love that I so generously and freely give to others.  And that was an amazing thing.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in church, Discernment, Raised Catholic

The Reformer’s Curse

Each of us are gifted at birth with a certain lens through which we are programmed to view the world and our life experiences.  Sadly, this lens is at once a gift and a curse.  Today’s blog explores the lens of the reformer/perfectionist…one I know all too well!

I Have Come to Save the Day – The Messiah and Superhero Complex

As much as I wish it were otherwise, I am not Jesus, or the Buddha or even Wonder Woman or Almighty Isis for that matter.  I am just little ole Lauri plagued with the lens of the reformer/perfectionist.  (For more on the reformer/perfectionist or the other eight temperments on the Enneagram scale, go to:  http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ )  As such, I have grown up with the kind of eyes that see all the places in the world where “it could be better,” “certainly there is another way,” “I could do it better than they…”  The place where has been most obvious and most painful (except my mother would probably argue this) is in regards to my relationship with the Catholic Church.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog…..I love my Catholic faith and it is because of this love that I want to see it get better….be better…do better.  But as a friend recently pointed out….Who am I fooling?  The Catholic Church has done just fine without me for 2000+ years and it certainly isn’t going to change just because little Lauri Lumby thinks it should.  But……that is not to say that I haven’t spent a fair amount of time beating my head against the wall hoping for change.  Around 4 years ago I finally recognized the futility of those hopes, dreams, compulsions…….and released my personal mission to “save the Catholic Church.”   Yes, I still like to get up on my soapbox and pontificate on all the “sins” of the Institution, but in truth, I know they are not going to change and I get that.   But….that doesn’t mean that I don’t keep working for reform in the tiny little universe over which I have any kind of control or influence (and even that is arguable)……and that is within MYSELF!

Reforming the church in my own tiny universe!

So, instead of beating my head against the doors of the Institution, I am creating “reform” right here in my own backyard.  Tired of waiting for the Church to do what I want it to do (ha ha), I offer the things I had hoped the Church would one day incorporate into its ministries, but has not.  The funny thing is that all the things I offer are things that the US Catholic Bishops have called for, but most parishes have not implemented – ie: Spiritual Formation for adults leading them toward Stewardship (see:  The Bishops’ documents on Stewardship, “Sons and Daughters of Light,” “Our Hearts Were Burning within Us.”  All documents which outline and call for these plans. ).  Now, in defense of the Institution, many parishes are offering religious formation (ie: doctrine) for adults….but is mostly stops there.  I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule…..and I am humble enough (on some days) to acknowledge this.  What sets me apart from anything being done on an institutional level, however, is that the tools and formation I provide specifically give people tools through which they are empowered to reason, discern and exercise truth…..their own truth as revealed to them personally and intimately in their connection with God.  I figure the only way to have effective stewardship is to empower spiritual maturity which only comes AFTER a period of questioning, challenging, seeking, discerning.  I’m comfortable holding space for that time of seeking and questioning.

The Larger Vision

Of course, as a “Reformer,” my visions don’t stop in my living room.  In fact, I see a larger, longer range vision where someday the work I am doing will be enfolded in a larger, more compassionate, more expansive expression of my Catholic/Christian faith…..but I doubt if that will happen in my lifetime.  So, I am content in letting the Catholic Church keep doing what it is doing (but not without a fair bit of poking and prodding on my part!) and I will continue doing what I am doing – with my lasso of truth in hand, and my bullet-proof bracelets ready (to defend the bullets of the self-appointed inquisition) I do the best job I can of discerning God’s call for me and authentically standing in that truth….whatever that might be.

What tools do you use for discerning truth?

Where do you find yourself caught up in the reformers curse?

How do you find acceptance of “what is” while still standing in your truth?

 

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Being Human, Lessons

Introverts and Perfectionists

Today’s blog is about process…specifically, the unique processing timeline of an introvert…..compounded by the standard of integrity embraced by the perfectionist.  And….I know I’m not the only one like this out there!  🙂  If you think you might be an introvert, or know someone who is…you might want to read this…..and if you think you might be a perfectionist…or know of someone who is.

 

 

To Thine Own Self Be True

As we mature and grow spiritually (and emotionally), we come to understand more fully who we are – what makes us tick, how we move through the world, our values, how we process life, what we need in the way of help and support, etc.   For me, there are two significant nuggets of self-knowledge that have proven to be critical in my ability to stay healthy and grounded in the human experience.

1)  is the knowledge that contrary to popular opinion…..I AM AN INTROVERT.  While I have learned to be outgoing and have taken the time to cultivate many acquaintances and friendships, I really find my most life-giving experiences in either being alone or in the context of one-on-one, intimate and personal experiences.

2) I am a perfectionist (in recovery…but a perfectionist, nonetheless)

Coming to understand these two things about myself has given me remarkable tools, but even more importantly, affirmation and validation for the unique ways that I process, or move through, the challenges of the human condition.  For those who do not live within the unique giftedness of the perfectionistic introvert, these methods of process can stir up feelings of impatience, frustration and even anger.  Introverted perfectionists move VERY SLOWLY in their process…and with good reason – for ourselves and for the good of those around us.

 

Integrity and the Perfectionist

Being a perfectionist can be a huge pain in not only our own butts, but the butts of those around us.  Until self-awareness, healing and integration takes place, the perfectionist can be self-righteous, morally rigid, judgemental, condemning, critical.  (ok, these can still linger….even after an enormous amount of healing!)  I have been frequently known to climb up on my soapbox of some social, religious, political issue and pontificate about what “should” be done….because of course I am perfect and I know better!  Once the layers of unhealed wounds and the rigid armor of self-defense is relaxed, however, the perfectionist can see that ultimately what drives us – both motivations and compulsions – is the desire to stand in integrity.  Standing in integrity means to discover, name, claim and stand firmly in our own truth….and to do so from a place of impecibility…..in other words….we strive to know our sh..t  and to clearly differentiate that from our fears, projections, etc.  That way, we can stand in “this is mine” and “this is yours” and step out of our temptation to blame, shame, condemn, etc.  Doing this allows the perfectionist the inner peace and contentment that frequently eludes us.  When we can unravel ourselves from judgment of self and others, this is where we find peace.  The challenge to this goal of integrity, however, is that it is VERY SLOW….and the perfectionist must often journey through the dark and dangerous forest of our fears and compulsions before getting to the clarity on the other side.  The journey can get pretty ugly…but the destination is MAGNIFICENT – clear, free from judgment and peacefully content.

 

Now Throw in the Introvert

As I just stated above, the perfectionists journey toward integrity is one that can be arduous and slow.  Now….mix in the temperment of the introvert.  Now you have molasses on a cold, winter day.  SLOW SLOW SLOW.  Introverts need TIME to process.  Introverts need TIME to get in touch with what they are really feeling.  Introverts need time to be present to these feels and discover their deeper roots.  Introverts need time to find the quiet…both outside and inside of them that will give them the TIME they need to hear their deepest truths, uncover guidance and direction…and they need time to say yes to this guidance and to discover the proper vehicle through which they can travel that path.  Introverts need TIME!

 

Help for Ourselves and the People in Our Lives

Why does any of this matter?  Because….we live in an extroverted world that wants everything NOW.  We want resolution.  We want closure.  We want commitment.  We want immediate gratification. We want surety of knowledge and direction.  We want it and we want it now.  Well guess what….for the perfectionistic introvert….this will NEVER be the case!  This is helpful knowledge if we are a perfectionistic introvert because it gives us permission to honor our own uniquely SLOW process and to not give into the impatience and pressure of an extroverted culture.  This is also helpful knowledge for us to share with those around us (those that will listen anyway), because if our temperments differ (which they will), tension will arise due to these differences.  When we are able to clearly name the needs unique to our temperment and allow those around us to name theirs, then we can negotiate a space in which we can each be present to our own unique process and give honor and respect to the other while we negotiate the bumpy terrain of interpersonal communication.   So, for those introverted perfectionists out there…..I invite you to name and claim your needs for time…..patience…..and still more time and to be ok doing so.  And, know that you are NOT alone!  And to the extroverts who are in relationship with an introvert…..BREATHE!  🙂

How do you process the challenges of your life?

Where are you being invited to name and claim your need for process time?

How might your interpersonal relationships benefit from your own emerging self-knowledge?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com