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.

Inside Out

images-4I recently watched a Disney/Pixar movie called Inside Out.The movie’s premise is around five emotions that drive Riley, an 11-year old girl’s, thoughts, actions, and behaviors and her struggles surrounding her parents decision to move away from the home and friends she’s always known.

images-2The five emotions, Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust all play important parts in the movie yet in the beginning, Joy was in charge of the control center that drove Riley’s feelings.

It was interesting to watch as Joy toiled with why Sadness was one of the members of the emotional team. At one point she draws a circle on the ground and asks Sadness to not step out of it. This was Joy’s way to prevent her from having any influence on Riley’s psyche. As I watched her do this I thought oh no….emotional suppression…this is going to backfire. Spoiler alert….it did and in a big way.

In the film, like in real life, all of our emotions serve an important purpose to our well-being. They provide us insight to our inner and outer environments in ways that help us to connect with others, avoid danger, and recover from loss.

Anger helps us to overcome obstacles, fear alerts us to threats and engages our fight or flight responses, sadness signals loss, and happiness (joy) helps us to pursue and attain important goals and encourages us to cooperate with others.

images-1Another task that Riley’s five primary emotions performed was to take care of her “core memories;” the memories that define her personality. When Sadness touched one of memories, it started to shift from a happy memory to a sad one. This frustrated Joy who only ramped up her efforts to control Riley’s emotional state. Her frantic behavior caused the core memories to become dislodged from their secure location, requiring Joy to chase them. Next thing you know she and Sadness are out of the control center and into Riley’s memory banks and unable to get back inside.

images-6This left Fear, Anger, and Disgust in charge of the control center. As you can imagine, Riley’s thoughts, actions, and behaviors soon led to chaos and a re-creating of her core memories.

Most of us, at one time or another, have wondered what purpose sadness serves in our lives. Sadness helps us to slow down and examine a situation, a process, a decision. Without it we wouldn’t think too deeply on how our actions and behaviors affect ourselves and others.

images-5There are a couple of scenes in the movie where Sadness’ natural tendency is to lay down and rest in the mist of challenge. This balanced out Joy who is overly full of action and ideas on how to get back to the control center. Joy had the energy to move them both through the memory banks and Sadness provided the road map on how to get back. T

We need to think of our emotions as a gift rather than something to be suppressed and avoided. When we don’t acknowledge our feelings we loose our sense of self. We may be conscious or not of this but feelings are the drivers of everything we do – they are in charge. The movie was a great visual depiction of this process.

“Our feelings are the primary motivating source in our lives. Without acknowledging our core feelings, we lose our sense of self.” – John Bradshaw

In the movie Inside Out the five emotions provide:

images-4The gift of Joy provides us with emotional vitality. It gives us the zest for living and involvement in our life.

images-1The gift of Anger provides us direction, motivation and boundary setting.

images-5The gift of Fear is that it is a primal part of being human. It helps protect us from harm and keeps us safe.

images-3The gift of Sadness provides us with sensitivity and compassion for ourselves and others. It brings with it also the gift of soulfulness and increased depth of being.

images-2The gift of Disgust or who’ve I identified as Shame, give us humility. As human beings we have limits and shame reminds us that we are “perfectly imperfect.”

Knowing, feeling, and expressing all of our emotions whether love, joy, fear, sadness, shame, anger, etc…is good for our health. They keep us moving steadily through our lives. The word emotion derives from the Latin verb meaning to move or move out. This is exactly what our feelings do; they help us to move in the direction which we need to go.

Being able to notice a broad range of feeling provides us with a richness and balance in our lives. Emotions give us clarity about our responses to events and access to them is a critical piece to developing heightened self-awareness.