Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Midlife Journey, Relationships

Help for the Male Midlife Crisis

Today’s blog is fourth in a series on men and the unique way in which they experience the midlife crisis.  In yesterday’s blog, we explored the ONE CAUSE and ONE CURE for the male midlife crisis.  Today, we explore specific tools to help men in their journey through the midlife transition.  Ironically, these tools are similar to those which are helpful for women.  When the midlife crisis is navigated in the ways presented here, the outcome is the birth of the Soul – the uniquely creative way in which you have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in your life and through which you are called to contribute to the betterment of the world.

male midlife crisis

Fear

The NUMBER ONE obstacle to successfully navigating the midlife journey is FEAR.  This is true for men as well as women, but for men, this is especially problematic because of the patriarchal, hierarchical paradigm which tells them that they cannot be afraid and if they are, they had better not show it to anyone.  This is especially true of the fears that arise in midlife because many of these fears are connected to men’s fear of being vulnerable.  Whereas fear is shunned in the patriarchal paradigm, vulnerability is condemned.  Men are NOT allowed to be vulnerable.  The successful navigation of the male midlife journey includes learning how to identify, confront and transcend fear – especially the fears that are shielding your deepest, most intimate truths – and learning how to acknowledge vulnerability and then, God-forbid, ask for help.

Vulnerability

In a culture where men are supposed to be strong, confident, in-charge, have it all together, be successful, virile, athletic, etc. etc. etc., vulnerability is a “no-no.”  In this paradigm, vulnerability is either buried under a mountain of denial, or out-right rejected and demonized as something that needs to be eradicated.  As such, men often develop an antagonistic relationship with vulnerability, the reaction to which is often violence and rage which then gets projected outward.  The voice of the subconscious sounds something like this, “This does not feel good to me and makes me feel weak.  I cannot be weak, and I cannot be vulnerable, therefore this feeling must be someone else’s fault.”  Out of this silent voice then often comes raging, attempts at controlling the situation, temper tantrums, or the opposite, withdrawal and punishment by silence.   None of this does anything to address the underlying vulnerability, which then begins to fester, eventually leading to another outburst.  (Please note, women are equally guilty of this.)

The Only Way Out is Through

The only way out of the painful symptoms of midlife is through.  In order to successfully navigate this transition and enjoy its promised gifts, you have to learn how to listen for and hear the voice of your truth, and then have the courage to be vulnerable enough to be present to these truths – many of which might be painful.  Then, you have to find tools to help you heal from the buried truths of past hurts, disappointments, losses, abuse, failures, etc. Once you have begun to move through the wounds of your past, the voice of your Soul will begin to speak.  Through the whispered voice of your Soul, you will discover the uniquely creative way in which you were gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in your life – and how your Soul is calling you to enjoy the next stage of your life.  Then you are invited to seek tools through which you can transcend the fears that will now begin to arise in response to your Soul.  Your Soul wants you to be your most magnificent and authentic self.  Your ego, your false-self, however, wants you to remain in a place that is familiar and does not want you to disturb the status quo with dreams of magnificence and freedom.  As such, the ego will start the battle of your lifetime by throwing up every possible fearful excuse for why you can’t possibly have the dreams of your Soul.

Authentic Freedom

This is where Authentic Freedom comes in handy.  Authentic Freedom is a process that I have developed to help men and women identify the fears which are serving as obstacles to the birth of their Soul.  Through the process of Authentic Freedom, you are provided with effective tools for identifying and transcending these fears.  Stay tuned for the next blog which will outline the philosophy and practices of Authentic Freedom, thereby setting you on the road to living the life of your Soul – meaningful, fulfilled, abundant, contented, joyful and free.

Lauri Lumby mentors men and women through the midlife transition.  Call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth to set up an in-person, Skype or phone session. 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Being Human, Midlife Journey, Relationships

The Courage to Be Vulnerable

As human beings, we are hardwired to seek companionship and intimacy.  Like wolves, lions, deer and buffalo, as a species, our survival is dependent on our ability to work together.  Beyond mere survival, however, we thrive when we learn to work together in mutually supportive, peaceful and harmonious ways and in ways that seek to work for the individual as well as the common good.  During midlife and in the birth of the Soul, this drive becomes even more urgent as we realize the finite nature of our existence and are forced to confront and make peace with the places where loving, harmonious connections were not supported.  In order to move through this delicate period of transition, we discover that the most valuable quality we can cultivate within ourselves, is the courage to be vulnerable. Today’s blog addresses this courage.

courage to be vulnerable

OUCH!

In a recent discussion with a colleague and business partner, I was reminded of the pain of vulnerability and the courage it takes to become the people God/dess made us to be. We were enjoying a deep conversation about life when the innocent question was posed, “Lauri, how did you get to where you are today?”  I paused, looking for the right response to his question, then I heard myself saying, “It started when the universe fell in on me.”  Then I told the story that began thirteen years ago and is still unfolding today.  I realized at one point in telling the story how truly uncomfortable I was telling this tale.  I’ve told the story a million times in my writing, but rarely within the intimacy of a one-on-one, face-to-face, conversation.  In telling the story, I was no longer Lauri “the teacher, minister, healer, writer, published author, leader,” I was the Lauri that is wounded, vulnerable, terrified, and alone.  I was reminded of how difficult it is to be this Lauri and was grateful when the doorbell rang so that this topic could be put back on the shelf.

The Courage to Be Vulnerable

But the conversation isn’t over.  In fact, it is just beginning.  If we wish to allow for the birth of our Soul – the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives and the way in which we are called to contribute to the betterment of the world – then the most important thing we can  do for ourselves is to learn how to be vulnerable.  In the Western culture, it is most often during midlife (menopause and perimenopause) that our Soul begins to exert its pressure on us as it seeks to be known and realized in our lives.  In birthing our Soul, we have to confront all the painful things of our past – name them, process them, heal, and release or transform them.  In confronting the pain of our past, we are acknowledging our humanness – that we are imperfect and flawed – that we suffer and that sometimes we are the cause of suffering.  In confronting our past, we are also invited to cultivate forgiveness – forgiveness of our own imperfections and forgiveness of the flaws and imperfections of others.  In order to confront our past and cultivate forgiveness, we have to be vulnerable – we have to set down the illusion of how we want others to see us, release the mask of who we want to believe we are, and set down the shield of our counterfeit strength.  Instead, we have to stand naked before ourselves, and naked before the world as human beings – afraid, vulnerable, weak and often feeling alone.

Vulnerability and True Courage

It is in learning to be vulnerable, in admitting our humanness, that we discover authentic courage.  Authentic courage comes out of our willingness to be vulnerable – not only to ourselves, but more importantly, with another.  When we can set down the shields of counterfeit strength and stand naked before one another, we find true intimacy – the kind of intimacy that God/dess offers to us, desires from us and envisions as possible within the human race. It is only in true intimacy where we discover the seeds of the compassionate love, mutual honor and respect, and harmonious interdependence that we were created to experience and make manifest in the world.  And it is only in cultivating this kind of harmonious interdependence that, as a species, we can ever hope to move beyond mere survival (which we are barely accomplishing at this point in our evolution) into the thriving enthusiasm and joy that God/dess intends for us to know.

Lauri Lumby supports women and men in their search for authentic courage through one-on-one mentoring. To learn more or set up your own session, call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@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, Healing

The Fine Line between aVoidance, Vulnerability and Victim

Today we explore the tenderness of our human emotions and how we choose to respond to them.  Do we avoid, fall into the role of victim or are we able to be open to our vulnerability?


Exploring Defense Mechanisms

I had breakfast with a friend/colleague yesterday morning and she shared how much she enjoyed Wednesday’s blog on the Warrior.  We discussed the various defense mechanisms that we have at our disposal – the warrior, the perfectionist, the performer, the glutton, the miser, the suffering servant and the victim (just to name a few).  The victim became the point of conversation as we explored the ways that we as human beings deal with our tender emotions.

The energy of emotions

There are times in each and every one of our lives where we are struck by the tender human emotions of sadness, loneliness, rejection and loss.  These are the emotions that make us feel weak, vulnerable and sometimes afraid.  When these emotions arise within us, there is an energy to them that is palpable – we can feel it.  This is natural, healthy and a normal part of life.  Emotions are neither good nor bad…they simply are.  The problem is that for most of us, we were not given permission to feel these emotions, neither were we given effective tools for dealing with these soft and tender feelings.

Responding to our emotions

For those who were given permission and a safe place to feel these emotions, along with healthy tools for dealing with them, these tender emotions are just a part of life.  They are not threatening, dangerous or scary.  The ideal way to move through these tender emotions is exactly this  – to allow ourselves to acknowledge these feelings, give ourselves the time and space to be present to them and in doing so, this allows the emotion to move through us, finding healing and release.  This is how we can allow ourselves to be present to our inherent vulnerability as human beings.   Unfortunately, this healthy path is often the road less traveled.  Instead, we choose between one of two responses to this inherent vulnerability – either we avoid the emotion or we fall into victim.

Avoidance

Avoidance is when we ignore, repress, stuff the vulnerable feelings as they arise.  Typically, this is done by seeking out distractions that will keep us from having to pay attention to the feelings arising within us.  We find activities that will keep us from recognizing our deeper feelings – we watch tv, go to the bar, take on a video game, call a friend to gossip, go shopping etc.  While avoidance in the form of denial is a natural part of the grieving process, it only serves to delay the inevitable.  Eventually, we will need to acknowledge and deal with those tender emotions.  Unfortunately, the longer we avoid our sadness, our loneliness, rejection, etc, the bigger it gets.  So when we finally give ourselves permission or are forced into to doing so (because now we are depressed or suffering with anxiety attacks, panic or physical symptoms such as fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, etc.), those vulnerable emotions are bigger than they need to be.

Victim

Falling into victim could be considered the dark side of dealing with our human emotions.  Instead of acknowledging our tender emotions and allowing them to move through us, we grab onto them, draw us into ourselves and feed on them like a vampire on its victims.  Falling into the victim allows us to gather all the badness we are feeling to our selves, nurture the bad feelings and watch them grow.   Embracing the victim allows us to remain stuck and stranded in our pain and prevents from healing and moving forward.  Being the victim also allows us to avoid taking responsibility for the growth that could have occurred through the loss or to recognize and heal our own behaviors that may have contributed to the sadness, etc.  The victim is the one that says, “WOE IS ME…I AM DOOMED…Nobody loves me, everybody hates me …I’m gonna eat some worms.”  We all know this victim and quite frankly he/she is not very attractive.  But lest we be tempted to judge the victim, again we are invited to simply recognize her for who she is and hold her in her own vulnerability so that she can gain the courage she needs to let go of the emotions that are feeding her victimhood.

Moving is the answer

So I guess the fine line between aVoidance, Vulnerability and Victim lies in movement.  Avoidance and Victim allow us to stay stuck and prevent our healing from taking place.  Being open to our vulnerability, staying present to it and allowing it to move through us is how real healing can take place.

Who do you want to respond to your vulnerability?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com