By now, you guys know that I’m a HUGE fan of Brené Brown. I first read The Gifts of Imperfection* (from which today’s theme originated) earlier this year and finished Daring Greatly* a couple weeks ago. Her newly-published Braving the Wilderness* is next on my list! (*affiliate links)
I’ve watched her TED Talks on vulnerability and shame, and I continue to identify with everything she has to say. I also admire how much effort she’s put into helping her fellow Houstonians recover from Hurricane Harvey.
If you’re unfamiliar with Brown’s background as a social worker, professor, and researcher or the concept of Wholehearted Living, let me share her definition of what it means to live wholeheartedly:
Wholehearted living is about engaging with 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.
Through years of research (and self-reflection), Brown realized that shame is the biggest barrier to living a full life. Her research indicates that the only way to live fully—to live a wholehearted life—is to embrace vulnerability, not to attempt to numb or deny it. And her 10 guideposts are a method to achieve that way of living.
I feel like this year has been the “year of self-reflection” for me, so the idea of tackling my own struggle with shame and my deep-seated aversion to vulnerability seemed like the perfect topic for a blog post.
We all want to connect, avoid shame, and live whole-heartedly. Here are Brené Brown’s 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living and some of the ways I plan to adapt them in my own life.
How I’m Cultivating the 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted Living In My Own Life
CULTIVATE AUTHENTICITY – LET GO OF WHAT PEOPLE THINK ABOUT YOU
Even though I claim not to care what people think of me, I am absolutely a people pleaser who aches to be liked and respected. I am constantly asking Mark his opinion on things I’ve done/created/said/etc., and I’m going to work on stopping that behavior. If I do something I’m proud of or find something I personally like, I’m just going to go with it—I’m not going to beg for others’ approval.
CULTIVATE SELF-COMPASSION – LET GO OF PERFECTIONISM
I like to think of myself as a compassionate and empathic person—to everybody but myself! In an effort to be more compassionate to myself, I’m going to begin my days with a positive affirmation. I’m going to try my best to avoid the self-deprecating talk that comes so naturally to me. Also, anytime I find myself stuck in that “I am not good enough rut,” I’m going to dissect the issue. Is a perfectly-curated Instagram account making me feel inadequate? If so, DELETE. Did I make a mistake at work? Instead of getting defensive and angry at myself, I’m just going to apologize/take ownership, and move on.
CULTIVATE A RESILIENT SPIRIT – LET GO OF NUMBING AND POWERLESSNESS
Lately I’ve been finding myself resorting to numbing behaviors. Nightly glasses of wine, even when I don’t really have a taste for it. Mindless scrolling on my phone instead of reading something I enjoy or talking with Mark. Sometimes I think I am emotionally “immature.” Instead of facing my emotions head-on, I retreat/numb/etc. or reprimand myself for feeling a certain way because I am too privileged/comfortable/etc. to have such feelings. That’s ridiculous, because feelings aren’t something you can measure or rate! I am going to work on “naming” my emotions and allowing myself to truly feel them instead of over-analyzing them or berating myself for not feeling happy and confident all the time.To live a #wholehearted life, you must be resilient... @brenebrown Click To Tweet
CULTIVATE GRATITUDE AND JOY – LET GO OF SCARCITY
Years ago, I did a “gratitude jar” for a year, and it was so uplifting and grounding. I truly believe that perspective and gratitude can change the course of our lives. I am going to bring back this practice. Maybe not a jar, but I’m going to begin (or end) my days by reflecting on something I’m grateful for.
CULTIVATE INTUITION AND TRUSTING FAITH – LET GO OF THE NEED FOR CERTAINTY
Despite my love for ideas (I did major in English and philosophy, after all), I hate uncertainty in my everyday life! I believe that very little is black and white theoretically, but when it comes to taking risks or simply trusting my intuition, I get scared of the unknown (which means I miss out on so much). I’m going to take more risks when it comes to work—both my day job and my blogging/writing. I’m going to offer suggestions at work. I’m going to contact local businesses or email national brands and pitch my ideas for collaborations. Even if they reject me, I’ve accomplished so much by taking that risk.
CULTIVATE CREATIVITY – LET GO OF COMPARISON
Instead of simply seeing myself as a capable, worthy, intelligent, and kind human being, I always tend to rate myself in comparison to somebody else. You think I’m a good writer? Ok, sure, but nobody’s going to publish my work like they did hers. You think I’m intelligent? Sure, I’m no dummy, but you see what so-and-so has done with her life and how I didn’t even go to graduate school. I’m good at reminding others that we have different gifts and talents, but I seem to thinking my own should be bigger and better. As an effort to stop this habit, I’m going to graciously accept compliments. I’m going to acknowledge when I do or say something well without downplaying or justifying it.Creativity, not comparison, is key to #wholeheartedliving... @brenebrown Click To Tweet
CULTIVATE PLAY AND REST – LET GO OF EXHAUSTION AS A STATUS SYMBOL AND PRODUCTIVITY AS SELF-WORTH
I like to think I’m pretty good at this—if I want to rest, I rest. I’d rather have a messy house than an immaculate one if it means I get to spend more time with my family. Life is too short to spend all our time on being busy! So even though I’m ok with not having a zillion things on my plate, I need to remember that saying “no” to things or choosing to relax doesn’t mean that I have less purpose than my busier friends/peers. It’s ok to be a working mom rather than a working mom who’s also teaching yoga, leading a small group at church, and getting her third master’s degree. With or without all those accomplishments, we are still worthy.
CULTIVATE CALM AND STILLNESS – LET GO OF ANXIETY AS A LIFESTYLE
I was journaling recently, and I realized something: I am afraid to make changes in my life and behavior because my anxiety has always been a defining characteristic of mine. Being the high-strung, awkward, tense, overly-emotional one has been my identity—my lifestyle. The thing is, it’s not normal to feel this way all the time! I am going to continue daily meditation and perhaps extend my massage contract. I’m going to relish the quiet and still moments on my lunch breaks or evenings.
CULTIVATE MEANINGFUL WORK – LET GO OF SELF-DOUBT AND “SUPPOSED TO”
“Supposed to” has plagued me my entire life. Not that I blame my parents or superiors for their praise, but something about my personality and way of thinking led me to believe that I am the sum of my accomplishments and nothing more. Instead of doing things that are meaningful and fulfilling to me, I’ve always done what’s expected of me or what will make me feel validated. Well, no more! I’m going to do more things for me. I’m going to trust my intuition, find my voice and purpose in the small things, and do so unapologetically.
CULTIVATE LAUGHTER, SONG, AND DANCE – LET GO OF BEING COOL AND “ALWAYS IN CONTROL”
I am such a serious person. Sure, I’m goofy, too, but I feel like I’ve lost some of that silliness. I’m going to have more impromptu dance parties with Bazooka and try to be less self-conscious. I want Bazooka’s childhood to one full of laughter, singing, dressing silly, and magic, so I must let down some of my guard and show him how that’s done.Cultivate @BreneBrown’s Guideposts to Wholehearted Living in your own life! Click To Tweet
I am sure I will struggle along the way—after all, nothing in life is linear—but I truly want to live authentically and wholeheartedly. Life is too short to spend it all on pleasing others or attempting (in vain) to fit in.
[linking up with Amanda for thinking out loud]
So tell me…
- Are you familiar with Brene Brown? If so, what’s your favorite work of hers?
- Which guidepost is most challenging to you?
- Which guidepost do you find to be easiest/less challenging?