Great Growth Can Happen When You Face Shame ‒ Interview With René Luisman
4 min read Written by: BrainzMagazine
Professional Trainer & Coach
René Luisman is a Dutch life coach and the founder of Gay Men Coaching. With this platform, he offers gay men tools to lead an authentic life. René's work has been recognized by the Dutch Association for Trainers, and they awarded him, Trainer of the Year, in 2018. The interview below was published in BrainzMagazine.
Introduce yourself! Please tell us about you and your life, so we can get to know you better.
I am René Luisman, 41 years old, and I live and work in The Hague. People who meet me for the first time are usually impressed by my calmness. Something that comes naturally to me and helps me in my work to quickly create a safe setting.
After a long day, I like to go out with my camera, a good book, or an inspiring podcast. Listening and observing, walking along the coast, and letting all impressions sink in on me. My love for travel eventually gave me love on the other side of the world. My boyfriend lives and does business in Los Angeles.
As a coach, you mainly focus on gay men. Why this choice?
Every person has his fears and insecurities; it's no different for gay men. What is different is that as a gay man, you often have not had a role model to whom you can mirror yourself. From whom you can learn to survive in a world where being straight is the norm. The minority stress experienced by some gay men can lead to lower self-esteem and intense feelings of fear, anger, or shame.
It is this shame that gets in the way of a healthy relationship with yourself and others. It is therefore logical that many of the men in my practice wonder how they can reconnect with their feelings and emotions. And they would like to learn to experience real connection in contact with other men. A process that can be exciting and challenging, not sure what you encounter.
This process often starts with exploring which themes you experience shame on. What beliefs do you have about yourself, your manhood, and your homosexuality, and how do they affect your behavior? If certain beliefs are non-functional, it may help to make a re-decision. For example, by acknowledging what you have missed in your past, to avoid projecting this lack onto your partner. Or by not only seeking the need for validation in others but also learning how to validate yourself and see yourself for who you are. With all your good and less good qualities. And the next step is to integrate these insights into your daily life through continuous practice.
What would you like to achieve for yourself and your company in the future?
The rights of the LGBTI community are not self-evident. This requires continuous attention. What also needs attention is what it does to you when you have hidden a part of yourself for years in order to protect yourself. Various studies show that gay men experience more psychological complaints than straight men. With Gay Men Coaching, I want to draw attention to this problem. I want to provide men with knowledge, tools, and insights in an accessible way to take the first step towards an authentic life. And for men who need extra support, I offer men's groups and individual guidance. I want to expand this offer in the coming years with theme-oriented workshops on topics such as self-care, intimacy, and sexuality. And in doing so, I want to seek collaboration with other coaches who support my mission.
Tell us about a pivotal moment in your life that brought you to where you are today.
When I was thirty, my father died unexpectedly from alcohol addiction. Suddenly I realized how much I missed my father. I had missed him at crucial moments in my life, and I carried with me a lot of old pain from events that I felt I had long dealt with. But it was precisely these events that turned out to be the cause of my low self-esteem.
At a young age, for example, I burned both legs and had to learn to walk again. And I didn't feel seen and supported during my coming-out, so I unconsciously made the choice to shield my feelings and emotions from the outside world. Decades later, these events still gripped me, both in my personal life and in my role as a professional. The strong belief that something was wrong with me caused a deep sense of shame. I'd rather be invisible so that I wouldn't be a burden to anyone and I wouldn't be confronted with the discomforts in my body.
It wasn't until my father passed away that I realized I was the one who had to change something. I learned to grieve for all that I never had and to be grateful for what had been. That change made me also dare to show my business ambitions. Instead of hiding, I chose to be in the spotlight and work as a life coach. Individual and with groups. A visible role in which I no longer want to hide. And where I use my experience to teach other men to find their place in life.
More and more men are now finding their way to my practice. Men who long for real contact. And who wants to experience how liberating it is to show up despite the shame and discomfort.
I also provide information in schools about the theme of sexual diversity. To talk to students and share experiences about what it does to you when you feel left out. And that it's okay whoever you are or whatever you're feeling.