Updated: Aug 9
Sneak Peek of My Coming Book
Your Soul is Talking. Are You Listening?
My new book is being launched
Just two of my endorsements:
“I couldn’t see what was happening underneath my Type-A life. Angst about turning forty and a dream about a grizzly bear that mauled my family brought me to Dr. Deborah. Her book will help you hear the pleas of your own inner being.”
—Dana Felton, Coaching Client
“This book is a great supplement to therapy for those in midlife transition looking for purpose in their lives. Individuals who are learning to listen to their inner voice will find Deborah Lukovich’s book both instructive and relatable.”
—Stacey Shelby, PhD., Registered Clinical Counselor, and author of
Tracking the Wild Woman Archetype: A Guide to Becoming a Whole In-Divisible Woman
Has something in your life fallen apart? Do you crave more meaning and purpose? Maybe you’re struggling with divorce, addiction, job loss, or depression. The Soul speaks through dreams, symbols, meaningful coincidences, relationships, films, and even anxiety and illness. Let me teach you the language of the unconscious to help you find your hidden purpose.
Chapter 4—My Five-Step Process
This chapter introduces you to my five-step process to working with the unconscious, a framework that emerged naturally as I became more experienced working with my images. Midlife unraveling and learning about depth psychology mysteriously happened in parallel fashion. My sneaky Soul. I’m pretty sure that was the plan, experiential learning at its best.
The boundary between theory and personal experience was blurred many times. As I approached the end of the master’s program, I lacked clarity about whether I should attempt to get into the PhD program. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the master’s degree, what the heck would I do with a PhD, what would I research? I decided to think about my education as expensive therapy.
Eventually, my Soul orchestrated more events to guide me on this mysterious path. There were tiny breadcrumbs that revealed just enough to make me take another small step. Go big or go home, I told myself as I prepared for the master’s exam, which would also determine whether I would be accepted into the PhD program. I was accepted!
More odd events happened, which led me to the research topic that I never imagined pursuing—women’s experience of reconciling sexuality and spirituality. Like I said, my sneaky Soul.
The five steps to my process sometimes happen in a linear fashion and other times happen all at once.
Step 1—Gathering Intelligence
Gathering intelligence is how I refer to noticing how your unconscious is trying to communicate with you, like a detective looking for clues that lead to solving a mystery. Writing them down can be accompanied by drawing what cannot be expressed in words.
At the end of my first post-divorce relationship, I was so angry, and I was also experiencing menopausal hot flashes during the night. Sometimes, I didn’t know what I felt, so I sat down in front of my image journal, and it all poured out.
Gathering intelligence includes observing things you never noticed before and might have dismissed as insignificant. Like the detective’s small spiral notebook, you will be gathering your clues in your personal written and image journals.
Step 2—Finding Themes and Patterns
Finding themes and patterns is about making connections between things that on the surface don’t appear to be related. Like when I noticed my naïve belief that every Monday could magically erase my husband’s alcohol addiction. I didn’t know it was an addiction at that point, and every Monday had seemed like a fresh start. It took months of journaling and fifty pages for me to find the pattern.
Your pattern might include a certain image that keeps coming up in your dreams or noticing that you end up in the same kind of argument with different people. Maybe you realize that you have gotten strep throat three times in the past year. Multiple physical injuries or aches and pains are a dead giveaway that your unconscious is trying to get your attention. First, it was your neck, now your back, and then you slammed your knee into the car door. Fuck! you yell as you look up to the sky.
Maybe you wake up with anxiety every Monday or keep seeing certain numbers, long lines of cars that are the same color, or dead birds. Just noticing the repetition of experiences and how they correlate to other experiences.
There’s no analysis yet, merely noticing, making connections, and documenting in your journals.
Step 3—Where is This Happening in Your Life?
In this step, you try to find the metaphor. For example, having lots of dreams that include babies is a pattern, but how is that image a metaphor for something happening in your life? Babies often symbolize something new trying to emerge from within.
Are you struggling to develop a new sense of security about finances after divorce, or confidence as you pursue the passion that your parents judged as an inadequate way to garner respect in the world? Maybe you’re gathering the courage to ask for a raise or give feedback to your boss about her poor leadership skills. Maybe you’ve been in your head for decades, and now you need to be more comfortable with your body and emotions.
During the beginning of the reconstruction phase of my midlife, dreams of babies were common. In one dream, a newborn made a sound as it was waking up in the morning. I didn’t think it was my baby, I thought I was watching it for someone. I went into the bedroom and peeked at it. It had a wrinkly face, and then it opened its eyes and looked up at me. I knew it was too young to smile, but she had a huge smile on her face. The baby in the dream looked like it knew something. Something new was growing inside me, not in a literal sense, rather a new desire, a new way of looking at the world. The end of the dream was indicative of where I stood in relation to this new thing emerging from me. In the dream, there were other people downstairs, and I was annoyed because they wanted to see the baby. I wasn’t ready, I needed to shower and get ready for the day. Believing the baby was not mine was a reflection that I was not yet ready to claim a new part of myself.
This step is about thinking symbolically about your images. You might not know what the new thing is that seeks expression, but simply being aware that there is a new part of you developing can put you on alert for finding more meaning in these images down the road.
Step 4—Finding New Insights and Meaning
Finding new insights and meaning is the analysis part. You’re not looking for answers as much as meaning and new insights, what many refer to as ah-ha moments. Discovering why you always act in a certain way or make too many bad decisions, just making sense out of the way you approach life right now. Are you trying to find your voice, or do you want freedom from other people’s expectations? I discovered that the hidden agenda for marrying my husband had been to rescue me from my out-of-control life.
Some of my dreams about babies commented on whether I was providing proper nourishment to the baby. In one such dream, I was in a hospital, and I noticed a malnourished baby, which had been abandoned. I was asked to tend to the baby, and breastfeed the weak little body, which I thought was ridiculous because it wasn’t mine. The sores on the baby’s bottom indicated that its diaper hadn’t been changed in a while, so I tended to her as if she was mine and I breastfed her. These babies symbolized my growing capacity to surrender, receive and be vulnerable, traits required for a more intimate relationship with a lover and Source, and ultimately those babies symbolized my growing creative urge which sought expression.
In this step, the mystery will begin to make a little sense. The symbolic is evolving into knowledge about what needs to change in your life.
Step 5—Integrating a New Attitude or Behavior
Integrating a new attitude or behavior into daily life is the part where you take responsibility for meeting your own psychological and spiritual needs. For example, when I feel anxiety, I need to find the new boundary I’m supposed to set. When a bunch of things go wrong, and I try to brush it off, look out as I may be holding down feelings that need to be expressed.
My new behavior is to notice when I’m pushing down my anger and then journal or draw—or walk around my apartment yelling that I feel angry. It means I need to advocate for myself in some way, which often triggers my authority complex. Journaling and drawing help me process the old child-like reaction to make room for the adult version of me that needs to rise to the occasion, and the expression of anger often results in a burst of creativity. My feelings of financial insecurity are telling me I need to learn to feel secure in an uncertain situation now that I’m on my own. I need to start the day telling myself I’ll figure it out, it will all work out, which allows me to be alert for opportunities.
There are so many possible actions that you might decide to take. Start small and notice how your body responds when you try something new. Challenging passive-aggressive behavior for example takes courage. It feels uncomfortable in the moment, almost as if you’re doing something morally wrong.
Whatever new behavior you try, follow it up with a walk or other physical activity to allow your body to process the experience and your brain to form a new neural connection. You will notice a sense of relief, linger in it. It will feel less uncomfortable next time, and one day, you will have developed a capacity to do that new thingwith confidence.
You may find yourself quickly moving through all five steps on a topic, or you may simply be gathering intelligence and exploring for a while before you have your first ah-ha moment. There’s no right way, so just stay curious.
This chapter introduced you to my personal framework for getting from image to insight to action. I suspect your overarching goal is to get to a new place even if you’re not sure what it is. My midlife experience is turning out to be more about meandering and less about getting to a known destination, but the meandering is purposeful, the way my Soul is guiding me to experiences my ego could never imagine or believe possible.
For reading my writing. I hope you are entertained and/or empowered, inspired, or receive some healing from my stories.
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