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Midlife Wisdom for Men Issue #006, March 19, 2004
March 19, 2004
Midlife Wisdom for Men - Helping Men Navigate Midlife Transitions.

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Written by Noel McNaughton
Midlife-Men.com
(c) copyright 2004 midlife-men.com

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If you like this e-zine, please do a friend and me a big favour and forward it him. If a friend DID forward this to you and if you like what you read, please subscribe by visiting Midlife Wisdom for Men. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

March 19, 2004 Issue #006

=========== TABLE OF CONTENTS ==========

· Three Spaces Left for Free Coaching

· Action Is The Second Key To Spiritual Growth

· The Magic of "I" Statements

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Three Spaces Left for Free Coaching

In the last issue, I said I wanted to give away some free ½-hour coaching sessions. I still have room to do three more.

There is absolutely no obligation on your part. I coach by telephone, and all it requires is ½ hour of your time, and the willingness to discover how to move your life to a '10'.

Be quick! Email me at noel@midlife-men.com , and we will schedule your free session.

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Action Is The Second Key To Spiritual Growth

There are many Hero Journey folktales. Joseph Campbell describes the hero as "someone who has given his life to something bigger than himself", and that is an accurate description of the spiritual journey as well. In fact the Hero's journey is a perfect metaphor for the journey of spiritual growth.

By 'spiritual' I mean the unseen. Those forces at work in our lives that we experience, yet can't get in touch with through our five senses. The forces the mystics throughout the ages have talked about, and that breakthroughs in leading-edge physics are beginning to reveal. These unseen forces seem mysterious to us because we can't see, touch, taste or smell them, but we can feel their effects. Spiritual growth helps us adapt to and even use these forces to our advantage for living life more fully, with a greater sense of joy and well-being.

The hero may set out intentionally, like Beowulf or Sir Gawain, or may be thrown into the adventure. Like the hero, we are either called to the spiritual journey through inner urgings, or thrown into it through a crisis of some kind. In my case, I was always interested in the concept of God and life after death, but the event that threw me into a far more active search - started me on the journey, so to speak - was the car accident that killed my first wife thirty years ago. It was ten years before I had a 'spiritual awakening', but I was 'journeying' all the time, trying to figure things out.

As I mentioned in the last issue, midlife is often a time when Life's Big Questions come back to us. They are the 'Call to Adventure' which every potential hero receives, but not all respond to. A person who receives the call and doesn't respond simply stays in the village and carries on with daily life. The hero goes on the adventure, is changed for the better in some fundamental way, and returns to the village with a boon for the other villagers.

We all receive many calls during our lifetimes. You have been called often, and have no doubt responded to some and gone on adventures that took you into new jobs or even totally new careers, new relationships, or new places to live.

So… the hero responds to the call and sets off on the journey, not knowing the destination or what trials he will face. In many, if not all hero's journey tales, the hero meets up with 'magical helpers' as he goes along. These may be in the form of talking animals (for example in a Russian folktale about a young hunter who is given many 'impossible' tasks by the evil King, the hunter's 'horse of power' guides him) or people with magical abilities (often old men or old women the hero meets along the way and shares his meagre lunch with, and who then give him valuable advice).

These magical characters are really metaphors for the real-life help we get when we are actively going on a spiritual search. The 'magical' help may come in the form of intuitions or hunches that lead us to useful books, organizations or people, or chance meetings with people who become important in helping us grow spiritually.

The key is to get into action. In other words, get our feet moving. The hero is guided as he travels, not as he sits still. This principle is true in any undertaking.

We can get our feet moving spiritually in a variety of ways. The simplest are prayer and/or meditation. (The classic guide to learning meditation is "How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery" by Lawrence L. Leshan.) It was published in 1974 and is hard to find, but it might be in your library. There are many books ant tapes on meditation, and any library is bound to have some.

Churches or other spiritual groups, or even spiritual coaches (I am one of those {grin}) can be helpful too.

So… are you being called to a spiritual adventure? Yes? Then get your feet moving, and good luck on your journey!

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The Magic of "I" Statements

You know how it feels... somebody gets mad at you, and starts pointing fingers and telling you what you 'should' or 'shouldn't' have done. Or telling you what a jerk you are for not remembering something, or for forgetting something. Or pointing out what a cad you are for not noticing something (such as a new hairdo), or for some other heinous crime you are guilty of.

No doubt you have done the same to someone else, especially your children. After all, we learned it from our parents.

If you have ever noticed your reaction when somebody is 'shoulding on you', you will know you stop hearing what they are saying long before they are done talking, and begin listening for an opening so you can 'yes but' them... 'Yes, but you forgot to (pick any of a number of things)', or 'You always (fill in the blank_________________).

The conversation goes downhill from there.

The reason is 'You' statements. As in 'You always....' or "You never...." or 'You don't care....'. I could go on, but you get the idea.

NOW, here is how to stop those go-nowhere shouting matches where everybody ends up feeling angry and defensive: Use "I" statements.

Here's how it works. Let's say your wife has done something to upset you. Maybe she wrote a big cheque on the joint account and forgot to tell you, so one of your cheques bounced. Your inclination might be to tear a strip off her: "Gol Darn it Martha, how many times do I have to tell you to let me know when you write a big cheque? Don't you ever think? " And on and on.

Martha's only logical response is to get behind the barricades and start shooting 'yes but's' back at you: "Yes, but how about a couple of weeks ago when I went to pay for the groceries with my debit card and found there was no money in the account? What about that, mister perfect?"

And back and forth you go, hurling accusations and counter-accusations, until you give up out of sheer weariness.

The result: no nooky tonight.

But let's take the same scenario, and use "I" statements":

You: "Martha, I wrote a cheque for a some new golf clubs a couple of days ago, and the guy at the store phoned today to say the cheque had bounced. I felt like a fool. When I checked the account, I found out you wrote a big cheque last Tuesday and didn't tell me about it. I hate it when a cheque of mine bounces. I think people must see me as some kind of loser. And I'm angry that you didn't tell me about that big cheque."

Now, notice that everything you said started with "I": I wrote a cheque, I felt like a fool, I am angry, and so on. You have stuck to the facts about what happened and how you feel about it, and not once pointed the finger at Martha and called her names.

Martha is understandably nervous about your anger, but because you haven't pointed fingers and said what a fool she is, she doesn't have to get behind the barricades to defend herself.

She can now say something such as: "I'm sorry Frank. I meant to tell you on Tuesday, but then Sally didn't come to work, and I had to cover for her, and the boss was mad, and by the time I got home after four hours of overtime, I guess I forgot. I know how it feels to have a cheque bounce, and I am truly sorry. If there is anything I can do to make up for it, I will."

Now, the conversation may go back and forth a little more from there, such as talking about how you can avoid bounced cheques in the future, but essentially the problem is solved, and you both might feel like a little lovin' tonight!

You see how that works? Just stick with the facts:
* this is what happened
* This is what I think it means
* This is how I feel about it

Try it next time you have an argument with your wife, or boss, or kids. You'll be pleased. I guarantee it.

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NOTE: I just added a "Man Health" section to my website. As we get older, diet, exercise and weight control are critical for quality of life. (Who wants to be old and sick or disabled?).

By the way, remember that 13 pounds I lost in nine days about two months ago? I put about three back on in the first week, but the other ten have stayed off.. You can find more details, plus other stuff on staying healthy at Man Health Page

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Almost everybody's computer slows down over time, due to unnecessary files and spyware junking up the system. I found Performance Pro is a handy little program for cleaning stuff up, and speeding up your surfing by eliminating not only pop-ups, but also those annoying in-site ads that slow down the loading speed. You can even try it for free to see how it works for you before you decide whether to keep it.

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I Need Your Questions and Feedback!

Got comments? Questions? I'd love to hear from you.

Just email your suggestions and/or questions to noel@midlife-men.com . I look forward to hearing from you. And thanks.

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Well friend, that's it for now. Again, if you enjoyed this and/or found it useful, and know of anyone else who might like it, please pass it forward. And if you have questions or recommendations, I would love to hear from you.

And don’t forget the free coaching session. I need your help!

All the best, Noel

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