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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wholeheartedness

I cultivate compassion for my imperfections. 
I embrace my vulnerability.
I am present to what is.
I open to gratitude.
I am enough.

 linking to:
a river of stones

This is a powerful TED talk by Brene' Brown that I saw linked on my friend Donna's fb page last week. If you haven't seen it yet, it is well worth taking the time to watch this 20 minute presentation, she's funny, engaging, brilliant...but if you are impatient or pressed for time, I've transcribed a few of my favorite kernels of goodness, gleaned from this master "storyteller-researcher" for you.
 

“Stories are just data with a soul."

"Connection…is why we are here…it gives purpose and meaning to our lives”

“Shame [is]…fear of disconnection….’is there something about me, that if other people see it, that I won’t be worthy of connection?’”

“Beneath “I’m not good enough…[is] excruciating vulnerability…in order for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen, really seen.”

[Shame] “boils down to [two categories]…people who have a sense of worthiness…a strong sense of love and belonging…and people who are always struggling, always wondering if they are good enough.”

She poses the question: What do the people who feel worthy have in common?
"[They are]... ‘Wholehearted’…they [have] a sense of courage…from the Latin word Cor (heart) defined as to ‘tell your story with your whole heart’…[they have] the courage to be imperfect…. the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others…We can’t practice compassion with other people if we can’t treat ourselves kindly…They had connection as a result of authenticity…They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be…They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn’t talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating, they just talked about it being necessary. They talked about the willingness to say, “I love you” first, the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees, the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram, willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental.”

“I know that vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love…”
 
“We numb vulnerability… the problem is, you cannot selectively numb emotion…you can’t numb the hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions, so when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness, and then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning and then we feel vulnerable so then we have a couple more beers and a banana nut muffin, and it becomes this dangerous cycle…We make every thing uncertain certain [well we try to]…We perfect. We perfect our children…they are hardwired for struggle when they get here…our job is not to say ‘look at him look at her she’s perfect’, our job is to say ‘you know what? You’re imperfect and you’re wired for struggle but you are worthy of love and belonging’…There’s another way, [besides numbing]…let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen…to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee…to practice gratitude and joy…to believe that we’re enough.”

“When we work from a place that says, “I’m enough,” then we stop screaming and start listening. We’re kinder and gentler to the people around us and we’re kinder and gentler to ourselves.”

After scribing Brene's brilliant words (and for me she is truly a shining, inspiring light), my summation of her teaching, seems to be the essential life lesson that I wake up to over and over again these days. I am not a scholar. I am not a Brene' Brown.  I am just a very ordinary person who has learned over time to believe that I am worthy of connection. (Therefore I blog!) This has not come easy to me all of my life. There have been very dark periods that slashed through my teens, twenties and early thirties, but I guess beneath it all, I always knew I was loved by my family, and even in the depths of indigo depression I did not loose faith in God/Something/Beyond/Within the smallness of me. As an educator, coach and spiritual director, I have read enough and witnessed, experienced enough to know that this is a critical part of brain development during childhood. I also believe it can be learned as adults, so do not fret if you fall into the category of people who are always struggling, always wondering if you are good enough, yet. Growth is always possible, change is inevitable! And even if I've never met you in person, I'm absolutely sure you are deserving of love and connection and are good enough right this moment now...and always have been. (Interestingly "connected" is the word I chose to focus on this year!)  It  could be argued that Brene's conclusion is what I write about the most on my blog, paired down into today's small stone awareness.


To me, living with "wholeheartedness," means seeing clearly, listening attentively, gently and continuously learning to accept all of the broken pieces of our hearts as they are revealed to us in the womb of this moment. It means understanding that all of the fragments are held together in unity, that all of the cracks must remain visible, vulnerable, so that we can appreciate our wholeness, shard by shard, connected through the sticky, golden-honey strength of l o v i n g k i n d n e s s. 
~gentle steps,
Laura
visit Brene' Brown

23 comments:

  1. As soon as I am able I will have to watch this video...thank you for sharing some of the main parts of it...this is something I need to watch because just what you've written here today hits me between the eye's. For a good many years I was numb and now although I am no longer numb in that same way, I am finding that I still habitually go numb at times and don't recognize when I am hurting. I am so aware and intuative of the pain of others so I am seeking to figure out why. As you know, shame is something I battle and something I hope to remove from my life, at least for the most part, by the end of this year.

    Bless you dear friend. (((Laura))) Thank you for all that you are teaching me. XX

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  2. Thank you so much for this post and inspiring video. Be well...

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  3. I always think it's our imperfections that make us perfect.

    Beautiful post, Laura.

    I can't imagine living a life without using my whole heart...

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  4. When I first saw her Ted talk, I was blown away. Brene's wisdom is ancient and speaks directly to my heart. I loved reading the transcripted pieces here this morning - the reminders are just what I need today.

    I also love that connected is your word this year - you are one of the most heart-connected, openly vulnerable people I know.

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  5. I have no words ... because you said them all with "wholehearted" brilliance shining through every space, after every comma or period.

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  6. Laura, your words are sent from heaven. Thank you. So glad to be connected to you, and all. Wholeheartedly I send you blessings.

    I will return later to watch the video.

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  7. Thank you for this post. I often struggle with the 'Am I good enough?' problem and this has made me feel that I am not alone in feeling this way.

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  8. Laura, I just watched the video. So full of truth. I am a retired social worker/therapist, so it felt good to listen and in some cases identify with the speaker. Thanks again.

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  9. I embrace my vulnerability..this really spoke to me..way too often i try to deny it..but it's wrong. thanks for this

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  10. I've seen this , it's fabulous.

    I won a copy of her book not too long ago , and started it during the holidays, but want to restart it and make a few notes.

    glad to know so many kindred spirits , Laura.

    love to you

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  11. You, my dear friend, are certainly 'wholehearted'. I, on the other hand, am one of the 'strugglers'. Thank you for this inspiration.

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  12. GREAT video. Thanks for sharing! xo

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  13. I really enjoyed this video, Laura. Thank you for sharing with us/me. It was very affirming...

    And I love this phrase of yours, "honey strength of lovingkindness." Perfection!

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  14. I'm going to settle in and watch this. It's serendipitous, really - the last books I bought were Brené Brown's. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  15. I am learning to be content with planting seeds on this path. Sometimes I get so impatient with myself, and the judgments are ruthless. Then I remember the seeds germinating inside, and the flowers others already see. I am catching more glimpses of those beauties, and that is enough.

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  16. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  17. Laura,

    How can I do that? "Compassion for my imperfections" -- Sometimes when I think of my whole self, I can embrace my imperfections but cultivating compassion for my imperfections is something I wonder about. The imperfection, I think is but for a little while before it turns to near perfection. It is always in a state of flux. Even perfection is like that. I am slightly confused by this. I am pondering. Thanks for creating that confusion.

    Joy and peace,
    Susan

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  18. Thank´s Laura, and thank you for the kind words on my blog....

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  19. this was a wonderful read. thank you for taking the time to write it. everybody should read this... so, so true.

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  20. Laura,

    Wow! Thank you for this really interesting post/video!

    Re: this part...

    “We numb vulnerability... the problem is, you cannot selectively numb emotion... you can’t numb the hard feelings without numbing the other affects or emotions, so when we numb those, we numb joy, we numb gratitude, we numb happiness, and then we are miserable and we are looking for purpose and meaning..."

    I think this is so true. Attempts to selectively numb don't work.

    Obviously, the topic of vulnerability alone is complex. So often it seems there is an urge to mask vulnerability with a strong-appearing facade. Embracing the fact that we all have vulnerabilities is huge.

    The power of connection is so important. Feeling alone and isolated, feeling as if no one understands, feeling like no one else has ever experienced xyz is a lonely feeling.

    I see this a great deal within the chronic illness community. When people with chronic illnesses find my blog and when what they are experiencing is validated by seeing others with similar experiences, the sense of relief and community that takes place is intense and wonderful.

    In order to make such connections, people often have to accept their vulnerabilities and step outside their comfort zones to reveal them.

    To talk publicly about an illness that has been dismissed and marginalized by numerous people in the medical community takes courage. I am always inspired by the people who have the courage to do so. I am privileged to "meet" such people online all the time. It is amazing the connections that can be made this way.

    Thank you, Laura, for a thought-provoking post!

    Jeanne

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  21. To risk vulnerability is to embrace life...thank you for this well-timed reminder, Laura! I needed that! xo

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  22. I love your final paragraph Laura ~ beautifully stated xo

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