The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

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How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a Wholehearted life: loving ourselves.

The unraveling (referring to a midlife crisis) is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.

The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button.

Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

Mary Daly, a theologian writes, “Courage is like-it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.”

Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story.

Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.

In her book The Places That Scare You, (Pema) Chödrön writes, “When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us… Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, meaning “to suffer with.”

…if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable for their behavior.

They key is to separate people from their behaviors-to address what they’re doing, not who they are.

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. It’s as if we’ve divided the world into “those who offer help” and “those who need help.” The truth is that we are both.

Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.

If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.

The greatest challenge for most of us is believing we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites.

Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.

I can’t separate the concepts of love and belonging because when people spoke of one, they always talked about the other.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them- we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Practicing self-love means learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves.

To begin by always thinking of love as an action rather than a feeling is one way in which anyone using the word in this manner automatically assumes accountability and responsibility – Bell Hooks

If we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, we have talk about the things that get in the way-especially shame, fear, and vulnerability.

Here are the first three things that you need to know about shame:
1. We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection.
2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame.
3. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.

Shame needs three things to grow out of control in our lives: secrecy, silence and judgment.

According to Dr. (Linda) Hartling, in order to deal with shame, some of us move away by withdrawing, hiding, silencing ourselves, and keeping secrets. Some of us move toward by seeking to appease and please. And, some of us move against by trying to gain power over others, by being aggressive, and by using shame to fight shame.

Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want. – Margaret Young

… authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice- a conscious choice of how we want to live.

Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.

E.E. Cummings wrote, “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.”

She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful. – Terri St. Cloud

(from the work of C.R. Snyder) In very simple terms, hope happens when
– We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go).
– We are able to figure our how to achieve those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again).
– We believe in ourselves (I can do this!)

The new cultural belief that everything should be fun, fast, and easy is inconsistent with hopeful thinking. It also sets us up for hopelessness. When we experience something that is difficult and requires significant time and effort, we are quick to think, This is supposed to be easy; it’s not worth the effort, or, This should be easier: it’s only hard and slow because I’m no good at it. Hopeful self-talk sounds more like, This is tough, but I can do it.

… there’s no such thing as selective emotional numbing. There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light.

To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees—these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain.

… Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is light from within.”

Lynne Twist: “Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough. Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.”

… Marianne Williamson says, “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”

… theologian Richard Rohr: “My scientist friends have come up with things like “principles of uncertainty” and dark holes. They’re willing to live inside imagined hypotheses and theories. But many religious folks insist on answers that are always true. We love closure, resolution and clarity, while thinking that we are people of “faith”! How strange that the very word “faith” has come to mean its exact opposite.”

Anne Lamott: “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.”

Laura Williams: “Comparison is the thief of happiness.”

Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing. It’s opening up an emotionally clutter-free space and allowing ourselves to feel and think and dream and question.

Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool – A quote from the film Almost Famous, 2000

My story matters because I matter.

Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance.

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