All posts by Thecouragetribe

Leaning Into Masculine Vulnerability

By David Visiko

In the healing circles that I have interacted with, I have often heard the phrase “lean into the pain.” As if the act of experiencing the pain of a breakup, or job loss, or disappointment was not hard enough, I am supposed to expose myself to even more suffering, and invite this “pain” to dinner? Sometimes, the answer is yes. I have experienced that leaning into anything involves the opposite of trying to fix, quickly move past or recklessly improve upon something.

As I have talked with men and women about male vulnerability and have reflected on my own experiences, I have discovered my own hesitancy to masculine vulnerability, despite my desire to practice and strengthen how vulnerability appears in my life. The act of leaning into something involves a level of acceptance, a self-acceptance that this pain or joy or whatever one’s feeling is a part of a person’s life and is present now.

Vulnerability can feel potentially dangerous, yet it is important. I once equated vulnerability with a reckless sharing of my private self. To be vulnerable one does not have to share their innermost secrets with everyone they meet. It is important to be vulnerable enough to know one’s self and move through the world authentically. I have come to understand that vulnerability requires boundaries to be used or practiced for vulnerability to be in its healthiest most beneficial form. It is important to be vulnerable enough to allow true connection. I am learning that it takes healthy vulnerability to allow people into my life, my world and my thoughts so that I can connect with others.

It may seem that men receive the most shaming for being vulnerable from other men who may feminize authentic sharing, keeping the sharer in a traumatized state, pushing him toward the inner isolation of one’s masculine box. What I have discovered is that although this can be true, many men in fact do want to engage with other men in brotherhood – to exchange authentic vulnerabilities – because they too have their own experiences, questions and perceptions that they want to share safely in the company of other men. However, a great undermining of masculine vulnerability also comes from a man being poorly received by an important woman in his life. As men are shifting toward expressing vulnerabilities and practicing a new found strength within it, the way we receive them in this process is an important societal issue. It is important for men’s partners, women and society to work to understand vulnerability for both men and women. We must work to receive men – as well as women without berating or ridiculing them. Let us strive to work together in support of authentic, vulnerable expression as we strengthen relationships, community and society.

Vulnerability is more expansive than sharing those parts of you that remain under lock and key. As a whole man, I don’t want to live out my life omitting connection around what is most close to my heart. Vulnerability can be inclusive of how one shows happiness, joy and the positive feelings that we associate with the most beautiful of life moments.

Until I embraced vulnerability as a positive aspect of my manhood, I kept many wonderful parts of myself locked inside – including the positive feelings that I have associated with cutting the umbilical cord at the birth of my son and the joy of experiencing a drumming performance in front of a receptive crowd. I now share these things. Through this level of sharing I am becoming more connected to quality people that allow me to share the more challenging items of life, lessening the unhealthy impact of the mask of false bravery.

It is my hope to be a living example of masculine vulnerability, to enrich my own life and lift up those around me. I challenge you to open to your own healthy vulnerability and support the people you interact with in their journey too.

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What’s in a reaction?

By Amy Turner, The Courage Tribe Founder
Reactions can be tools – insights of crucial awareness, if we pay attention and are willing to learn.  Or they can be weapons flailing about unchecked, recklessly, sometimes mindlessly, wounding.  

We are in nearly constant reaction to the world around us, and many everyday reactions become habitually unloving and hurried.  Eye rolls behind someone’s back, a feeling that when we are told “no” it’s because we must be unloveable, dismissal of a loved one who needs our attention, a snippy retort as we grapple for the upper hand, cutting someone off in traffic because “they deserve it,” the unloving way you may feel about your boss, parent, child, partner, friend, or someone different from you.  

Where can you courageously make room in your reactions for love – for you and the other person?  Can you be curious about your reactions?  Can you allow your reaction to bring fresh opportunity and room for others in your life?  Can you forgive a reaction?

Reactions can make us feel out of control.  Sometimes they spin us out of control – often when we want to deny the very reaction we’re having, or the reaction someone else is having.  Yet, reactions also serve as gateways to understanding complex feelings.  Our feelings are representative of our hearts, and our hearts are gateways to living our purpose.

What would happen if we didn’t deny our reactions, but instead leaned into them to take a closer look?  What if we realized our own actions needed improving, and were cause for making an apology?  What if we apologized or opened ourselves to receive an apology, if that is what’s called for, and then moved forward with courageous compassion and accountability?

The funny thing about leaning into reactions is it tends to bring us further along in living proactive, mindful lives.  When we bring compassion and understanding to reactions we make room for ourselves and each other, become active in our own rescue, and shift from victims to powerful creative forces in our own lives.

A reaction is an opportunity for new action, again and again, if we let it be.  Love your reaction.  Use it to inform your next action and courageously transform your life – one reaction at a time.  

So.  What are you reacting to?

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Know Your Wholeness

By Amy Turner, The Courage Tribe Founder
In leading The Courage Tribe I am both teacher and student.  This suits me well; when we stop having an openness to learn, we cease being an expert.  I lead a weekly inspirational group in Bend, OR called Tribe Tuesday.  Recently we were talking about purpose, getting clear, and being in wholeness.  Everything in me paused when one person summarized the collective wisdom of the morning with, “Know your wholeness.”  As the power of those words landed on my ears, they humbly pierced my heart.  

I felt a shift in my whole self.  In the hustle of life I’d temporarily moved away from my wholeness, and that powerful, simple phrase was enough to bring me back. 

How does that phrase sit with you?  

There is wholeness within each and every one of us.  We are brought into ease of wholeness when what we’re doing is aligned with the truth of our hearts, aligned with what is right in our bones.  It doesn’t happen when we are merely appeasing social conditioning, fear, or mind chatter.  We have to get quiet to hear our hearts among the noise of everything else around us. Wholeness happens when we live in courage beyond our fears.  

When we know something is right, but aren’t doing it (or when we know something is wrong and we do it anyway), it tugs at our hearts.  We feel broken and things in our lives become blocked.  Relationships deteriorate, we become uncreative, life feels grinding and lonely – even in other people’s presence.  

Feeling broken can come in the form of not speaking up when you know you need to or yelling your head off when grace is what’s called for.  It can come in the form of gossip, trying to control people, having weak boundaries, judging others.  A list of what brings people out of alignment with wholeness is endless.  When we feel broken, we become self-reprimanding into a downward spiral – disconnected, depressed, despairing, anxious, addicted.  In living from this space, we drag other people down too.  We’re left wondering why things are difficult and falling apart.  We can become so used to feeling broken that it becomes our baseline normal.  This is not what we’re after.

 

We have the power to acknowledge this when it happens and change it.  We need reminders and each other – we weren’t meant to go it alone.  We were born to thrive, to help each other and be helped, to love and be loved, to use our talents and receive the talents of others – to be connected in our jobs, in our homes, in our communities.  We are human and err often, so we need to pause for humble self-checks often.  Movement between being in wholeness and feeling broken happens all throughout life, but wholeness is there to return to.  The trick is getting back on track as often as we can.  It takes awareness, openness, humility, forgiveness, and courage at least.  

Personally, I have to pause far more often than my social conditioning tells me I should.  As a result, I sometimes push until I’m out of balance, stagnant, uncreative, and short with myself and my kids.  When I heard the words “know your wholeness,” I knew I’d shifted into this out-of-balance state fueled by shame and a need to get things done.  I believe in walking the talk, so it was time for honest self-awareness, to forgive, adjust, and courageously move back to wholeness.  Instead of pushing through tasks, I practiced saying, “Let it be.”  I connected with my kids and sought time with old and new friends.  

Important achievements usually happen through consistent action over a period of time and they don’t have to come at the cost of what we love in life.  Within this framework there is time for a balanced, well lived, connected life.  It’s not enough to say we believe in something and we’ll live it someday.  We have to catch ourselves and do the work of living it now.  When we are courageously in line with wholeness our lives become in flow.  

Know your wholeness and courageously live it.

 

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Get in the River

By Tiahna Skye, Founder of Expansions Coaching
There is a tension between that which calls us forward and that which holds us back. It is not always easy to know which voice to heed. Do I really need more preparation? Is it time to just jump in and go for it? What if I fail? What if I don’t?  What about this and what about that? Sometimes we just have to get in the river and see where it takes us. I am a firm believer that we can learn more from putting ourselves into play than we can from sitting on the sidelines.

As a coach, one of my favorite questions is, “If you were guaranteed success, what dream would you pursue?” I like the question because it cuts straight through our fears and doubts, and reminds us of the dreams that are dear to our hearts. That is where our purpose lives. That is where our soul’s calling can most clearly be heard and seen. What is calling to you?

There is a magic that happens when we give ourselves fully to our true purpose. It is the difference between living in black and white, or living in technicolor. When we align ourselves with our values and purpose, life becomes brighter, and excitement and joy bubble up easily. We feel fulfilled and life has meaning. Committing to our purpose certainly doesn’t mean it won’t be challenging, frustrating, or scary – this is real life we are talking about – but a sense of purpose makes it easier to bear those burdens. A clear sense 

of purpose also heightens our awareness and shines a light on possibilities – get in the river and see where the currents carry you.

How will you do it? Are you someone who likes to just jump in, or do you prefer stepping in slowly, letting your body adjust to the new environment? Do you rip the band-aid off, or pull it a little at a time? There is no right or wrong. Know yourself, know what works for you, and take the next step -whether it is scheduling a swimming lesson, strapping on a life jacket, or jumping right in.

I like answers. I like to have maps that show me how to get where I am going. I prefer knowing what comes next, and next after that… and next after that. It is often said, “The map is not the territory.” The truth is, even with the most well thought out plans, we never really know where we are going to end up. Life is full of surprises, and unexpected twists and turns. Preparation and planning can give us the courage to move forward, but can also at times become the excuse which holds us back. Gather what supplies you can and take the leap. Bring a life jacket if it gives you the courage to step in to the river, but don’t wait until you have the yacht and the crew before you begin. Put your plans into action or they will only ever be plans.

It takes courage to say yes to your heart’s calling and step into the unknown. It is a risk, but the greater risk is to play it safe and never know what might have been.

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”   ― Thomas Merton

So whatever your calling, your impulse, your inspiration – get in the river and see where it takes you. If you don’t like where you are, just keep going.

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Courageously Pausing for Renewal

By Amy Turner, The Courage Tribe Founder
Living with courage is not a one and done adventure. Cultivating an ability to be receptive while remaining grounded and flexible puts us on track with the life we want.

I’ve been working side by side with a beloved colleague on business development.  We enjoy working together.  We motivate each other, execute, roll up our sleeves, get the job done, and take a lot of satisfaction from our work.  Despite recent accomplishments and favorable working conditions, we both showed up for work one day last week feeling depleted and down.  Remaining grounded, receptive, and flexible, we made a change to our work plan for the day that allowed our vision, innovation, and humanity to thrive.  In the face of quarterly deadlines we took the morning off to walk nature trails.

It was unplanned and against a whole string of shoulds in my head put in place by the industrial revolution and a work ethic passed down through the generations.  “People should put their heads down and work to be successful, no matter what” was a loud voice in my head, but we’d been working hard and needed a break.  Thankfully, responding to the need to get outside on a sunny day – despite a heavy workload –  is courageously in line with my values.  

We’re not machines.  We’re human and we require renewal and a change of pace for a thriving life, especially when we’ve got big work to do.  Time off is not decadence, it’s responsible humanity.  Sometimes it needs to happen spontaneously in the face of best laid plans.  When was the last time you made a choice for time off despite busyness?  The benefits for us were many.  We were far more productive, decisive, creative, and joyful in our work when we came back to it that afternoon than we would have been if we’d pushed ourselves to put our heads down and stay indoors.  

Life is what you make of it; it takes courage to make it what you want.  

We have more power over our lives than we often believe.  Power is lost by being complicit with the status quo instead of leading with courage.  Our choice had a far reaching ripple effect.  We felt more bonded to one another and to our work mission because our humanity was being tended to through company values.  Our zest for life was renewed, having a positive effect on other people we encountered.  Instead of being completely zapped by the work day, we were invigorated, which spilled into our home lives.  

In a world where productivity often comes at the cost of quality of life, this is a major win.  Fresh air, movement, and free-flow conversation is vital to life.  How can you bring play and renewal into your definition of responsible humanity?  We have the power of choice in how we lead our families, our companies, ourselves, and our world.  

Let us lead courageously.

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