Wholehearted

imagesLately I’ve been enamored with Brené Brown’s work. She is a Social Scientist who is a researcher, storyteller, and speaker who inspires audiences to have conversations about difficult topics – in particular vulnerability and shame.

If I had titled this post shame would you have even read it? Please do….this information can have a profound effect on our Personal Mastery focus. Our shame may be driving us to not show up, be our true and authentic ourselves, and to speak our truth. Also, this entire post isn’t about shame or vulnerability.

Brené shares three things we need to know about shame:

  1. We all have it. It is universal and the most primitive of human emotions we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection and are potentially psychopaths.
  2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame.
  3. The less we talk about it, the more control it has over our lives.

images-9Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy. Shame shows up in all of the familiar places including appearance and body image, family, parenting, money and work, health, sex, aging, and religion. To feel shame is to be human.

Brené want’s to have a national conversation about shame – how it shows up and how to manage it. Our lack of identifying shame and our inability to speak about it is causing us to perfect our lives and to keep playing those broken tapes of inadequacy in our heads.

“Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough. If we want to develop shame resilience, the ability to recognize shame and move through it while maintaining our worthiness and authenticity, then we have to talk about why shame happens.” – Brené Brown

images-10She has an amazing ability to explore these unspoken and painful topics using real stories of people who she’s studied and learned from. She also shares her very vivid life’s stories, thoughts, and feelings about how she struggles with vulnerability and shame in a genuine and humanistic way that her audience can’t help but connect with, giggle about, and understand. Her TED Talk on vulnerability is still one of my top 5 favs.

Because of Brené’s research and conversations with people who have figured out how to speak about and use vulnerability and shame to their benefit, she developed 10 Guideposts for what she calls Wholehearted Living. I consider them to be today’s updated version of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – you know what a fan of Covey I am so it shouldn’t be a shocker that I love Brown’s work. 🙂

“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 mater 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 fact that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. Wholehearted living is not a one-time choice; it is a process. In fact, I believe it’s the journey of a lifetime.” – Brené Brown

10 guideposts for wholehearted living:

  1. Cultivating authenticity – letting go of what people think.
  2. Cultivating self-compassion – letting go of perfectionism.
  3. Cultivating a resilient spirit – letting go of numbing and powerlessness.
  4. Cultivating gratitude and joy – letting go of scarcity and fear.
  5. Cultivating intuition and trusting faith – letting go of the need for certainty.
  6. Cultivating creativity – letting go of comparison.
  7. Cultivating play and rest – letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.
  8. Cultivating calm and stillness – letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle.
  9. Cultivating meaningful work – letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to.”
  10. Cultivating laughter, song, and dance – letting go of being cool and “always in control.”

images-11Recently, I attended a daylong seminar called: Daring Way for Coaches in which we studied and pulled apart Brené’s 10 guideposts. Participants were asked: Which of the guideposts do we feel we’re living most fully now and feel like areas of strength that we can draw upon for resilience? I chose numbers 2, 4, 5, & 7.

The next question asked was: Which one or two guideposts would I like to focus and build upon after the seminar? I chose numbers 1 and 6. I felt that they would help propel me to live more wholeheartedly in lightning speed – yeah right!

It’s has been almost four months and I must admit that guidepost one is kicking my butt. Here are Brené’s thoughts  about authenticity….

  • Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we thing we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. (Check, I’ve got this mostly incorporated.)
  • Choosing authenticity means that we cultivate the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable. (Nope, I don’t have this one. This has been tough for me because of my perfectionist critic. Perfectionist, party of one? Note to self: keep working on this one will ya? :))
  • We need to exercise the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough. (I’ve been able to implement some of this but I have an inner critic that I’m battling that keeps questioning – What if others don’t think I’m enough? Where’s that critic sledgehammer! :))
  • Authenticity demands wholehearted living and loving, even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives. (Okay, I’ve got critics or as Brené calls them gremlins that cause this practice to also be difficult. I need to remember that cultivating wholehearted living is a process and a journey of a lifetime so that I’m not so hard on myself!)

images-4Because of being enamored, I’ve been working on 1) a better understanding of and; 2) putting in a framework to manage those perfectionist tendencies. AKA the sledgehammer! 🙂 With awareness, focus, work, and time I know I’ll be able to call myself a recovering perfectionist and aspiring good enoughist.

If you’re interesting in learning more about Brené’s guideposts, I highly recommend picking up her book titled: The Gifts of Imperfection. She provides ideas and practices on each of the guideposts to institute so we can live a wholehearted life.

#authenticity #vulnerability

habit5-300x300

Continuing on with the seven part series regarding Happiness; this week we’re digging deeper on habit five: Authenticity and vulnerability.  (For more on forgiveness see here.)

In our heads, we know there is no such thing as perfect. So why do so many of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone and not follow our authentic self?

images-3#authenticity…what is it really?

It is the alignment of our head, mouth, heart, and feet. An authentic person thinks, says, feels and does the same things consistently. It requires making conscious informed choices based on self-knowledge.

images-2We all know people who are authentic. They are graceful, wise, centered and credible. We are drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. They know how to share difficult or painful information with others by being honest yet gentle. They are not overly concerned with what other people think of them – what they think, say, feel and do are all in alignment.

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

So what does being authentic have to do with our happiness?

imagesBy being authentic we are being true to ourselves. Authentic people are comfortable in their own skin. Their energy is spent on things they can control. Because of their primary focus on positive emotions as well as a healthy management of negative emotions, they’ve developed a natural resilience. Resilience is an ability to navigate the sticky and messy parts of life. Oh yeah….our authentic self isn’t always pretty – it’s just real.

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Ghandi


images-5Vulnerability is difficult for many people; most of us were brought up to regard vulnerability as weakness. What if I were to tell you that authenticity, vulnerability and worthiness are the underpinnings to a successful and happy life?

Social Scientist Brene Brown spent the better part of a decade researching this area. After thousands of interviews with people here’s the simplistic view of what she found:

We must embrace who we are to be authentic.

When we are authentic we can be vulnerable.

When we are vulnerable we can have powerfully strong connections with others.

She also discovered that vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love. Wow! Why then do we not consistently practice vulnerability? Because it is hard and at times scary.

Sharing our deepest thoughts, feelings, and actions with another exposes our true self – our soft underbelly. If we’re not fully comfortable with who we are, we won’t speak up and share ourselves – we’ll have a tendency to quietly stay in the background.

images-3For me, you cannot have a discussion about vulnerability without a review of judgment. I feel that another reason people are not comfortable being vulnerable is because we are quick to judge others as well as ourselves.

When we can understand that judgment wreaks havoc in our lives ….we can loose the shackles of our pre-disposed judgment and more freely navigate the deep and meaningful waters of vulnerability. This isn’t easy for most of us, me included.

Because vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging and love,  (who doesn’t want more of this!?!) I’m making the commitment today to work on removing my own judgment of others and myself so that I can practice vulnerability more consistently and freely.

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.” – Brene Brown