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directly from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (page 9) … with some comments by me
“Understanding shame is only one variable that contributes to Wholeheartedness, a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness. In The Gifts of Imperfection, I defined ten “guideposts” for Wholehearted living that point to what the Wholehearted work to cultivate and what they work to let go of:
1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
I’m getting so much better at this one, but still think it’s impossible to never really care what people think …. if we didn’t care what people thought of us then we would all go to the grocery store wearing a tutu and combat boots. While an interesting fashion choice, it’s probably not the image you want your boss or preacher to have of you. The trick is learning to care what the important people in your life think of you and letting the other ones go.
2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
I am slowly learning to embrace the idea that “good enough” sometimes really is good enough.
3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
This is big one for me …. a gigantic one … a dinosaur sized one. I sometimes resort to numbing my emotions with food and alcoholic beverages. I’ve cut waaaaaaaaaaay back on the drinking, but still struggle with the idea that eating something is going to make me feel better.
The idea of being powerless used to be one of the scariest things in the world to me. The Paxilated me always thought that I had to be completely in control of every situation and that my ideas were golden and anybody else’s ideas where absolute crap. Gosh I can’t imagine why people didn’t want to be around me. Now I’m much more open to sharing the spotlight and see interactions, positive or negative, as learning experiences.
4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
There is enough …. and I will get my part of it.
5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
This was a tough one for me overcome too. I would plan out every trip (from going to the movies to going on a family vacation) almost down to the minute and when things didn’t work out exactly the way I wanted them too then I lost it …. not just a little bit … I reeeeeeeeeeeeally lost it. I’m doing much better. On our last trip to Vegas, I just made a list of the places that I wanted to see and if we got around to it then we got around to it. We had a great time …. go figure.
6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
I struggle with jealousy. There I said it. I really really really want to be happy when good things happen to other people and I’m slowly teaching myself how to do that … but it doesn’t stop me from thinking “why not me” when somebody gets their dream job, or wins a new car, or wins $10,000 at the local casino (all three things have happened to friends of mine recently … not the same friend … three different friends … if all three of those things had happened to the same person then I might just have to stop talking to them)
7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
Oh I used to play the “Nobody is Busier Than I Am” game all the time. I was always more tired than everybody else. I was always more stressed than everybody else. My life was always more important than everybody else’s. blah blah blah …. I really was a horrible person and it took me some serious soul searching (and getting off the meds) to make me realize that nobody gives a shit and it’s NOT a contest. Everybody has struggles. Everybody has problems. I’m not more important (or less important) than anybody else.
8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
I practice this every time I actively listen to my children … before I respond to anything stressful that they’ve told me, I take a big deep breath. I’ve learned that there are very few actual tragedies in life and most things are made larger and worse by worry and overreacting.
I also take about ten minutes each night to be still in bed, flat on my back, slowly relaxing to the point where I am completely comfortable, clearing my head and just breathing. It takes a lot of practice, but if I can do it … then anybody can.
9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
The people who say “I can change the world” are the ones who do.
10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”
I went down a water slide … and had trouble getting out of the raft afterwards … and I laughed about it. Cool can kiss my ass !!!
One chapter in the book talks about how people shield themselves with various forms of armor as a way to avoid feeling vulnerable.
… directly from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown (page 167)
“THE SHIELD: CYNICISM, CRITICISM, COOL, AND CRUELTY
If you decide to walk into the arena and dare greatly, you’re going to get kicked around. It doesn’t matter if your arena is politics or the PTO, or if your great dare is an article for your school newsletter, a promotion, or selling a piece of pottery on Etsy – you’re going to be on the receiving end of some cynicism and criticism before it’s over. There may even be some plain ol’ mean-spiritedness. Why? Because cynicism, criticism, cruetly, and cool are even better than armor – they can be fashioned into weapons that not only keep vulnerability at a distance but also can inflict injury on the people who are being vulnerable and making us umcomfortable.
If we are the kind of people who “don’t do vulnerablity,” there’s nothing that makes us feel more threatened and more incited to attack and shame people than to see someone daring greatly. Someone else’s daring provides an uncomfortable mirror that reflects back our own fears about showing up, creating, and letting ourselves be seen. That’s why we come out swinging. When we see cruelty, vulnerability is likely to be the driver.
When I say criticism, I don’t mean productive feedback, debate, and disagreement over the value or importance of a contribution. I’m talking about put-downs, personal attacks, and unsubstantiated claims about our motivations and intentions.
When I talk about cynicism, I don’t mean healthy skepticism and questioning. I’m talking about reflexive cynicism that leads to mindless repsonses like “That’s so stupid,” or “What a loser idea.” Cool is one of the most rampant forms of cynicism. Whatever. Totally Lame. So uncool. Who gives a shit?”
I have teenagers, so I hear about some form of cruelty on a regular basis, but it never gets any easier to process. The other night after looking for Emily, I found her crying on the front porch. She didn’t want to talk about it, so I sat with her until she did. About a year ago, a girl at the school decided to go after our family (we deal with this a lot) and started sending out texts from a blocked number to my daughters and eventually to their friends as well. These weren’t just childhood taunts … these were evil messages. Emily has a fear of not being as smart as the other kids in her class, so the unknown texter sent her messages calling her dumb and telling her that she should just kill herself. Beth is really skinny, she always has been, and she is very self conscious about it, so the unknown texter sent her messages calling her anorexic and ugly and telling her she should just kill herself. The texts to their friends were along the same lines … calling one fat, calling one slutty, calling another one crazy, all urging them to end their own lives.
As an adult who has endured a lot of crap, I can look at them and tell them to just ignore it, but I also know that it isn’t that easy. So I sat on the porch with Emily for hours, listening to the whole story and telling her what I’ve learned in life … that the people who find it easy to be cruel are very often hiding flaws in themselves and the only way they can feel better about what’s wrong with their lives is to make somebody else feel worse, which is the exact definition of a bully.
She told me that the girl NEVER says anything to anybody’s faces, she hides behind fake Facebook accounts and blocked texts … which says a lot. By the end of the conversation, Emily was smiling again and she assured me that if she gets any more messages that she will tell me about it and we will go from there. Eventually this girl will move on to another victim when she stops getting responses from my daughters and their friends, but that doesn’t really solve the bigger problem of teenage bullies turning into adult bullies.
I guess the answer lies in all of us. When you feel yourself starting to be cruel, think about why you are doing it and stop yourself and find some way to teach that to your children. Don’t tolerate it between siblings or friends or spouses.
What a wonderful world it would be if we were all working towards the greater good and working on our own issues, instead of pointing out the flaws in others.
Brene Brown wrote an article a few years ago for the Houston Chronicle about how cell phones and non-personal interaction have made people rude. I AGREE !!! I had to physically wrestle the cell phone out of my 16 year old daughter’s hands last night when we were trying to have family game night (where the motto is “WE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN IF IT KILLS US ALL … DAMMIT!”)
Here’s a link to the full article …