I heart Brene Brown, volume 1.

  • Shame resilience is the ability to say, “This hurts. This is disappointing, maybe even devastating. But success and recognition and approval are not the values that drive me. My value is courage and I was just courageous. You can move along, shame.”
  • Empathy is a strange and powerful thing. There is no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, witholding judgement, emotionally connecting and communicating the incredibly healing message of “You’re not alone.”
  • If we want freedom from perfectionism, we have to make the long journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough.”
  • We can’t selectively numb emotion. Numb the dark and you numb the light.
  • Trust is a product of vulnerability that grows over time and requires work, attention, and full engagement. Trust isn’t a grand gesture–it’s a growing marble collection.
  • Feeling disconnected can be a normal part of life and relationships, but when coupled with the shame of believing that we’re disconnected because we’re not worthy of connection, it creates pain we want to numb.
  • We all want to be brave. We want to dare greatly. We’re tired of the national conversation centering on “What should we fear?” and “Who should we blame?”

Nearly a year ago I started seeing the name Brene Brown float around the blogosphere. I ignored it, of course, because lots of books and authors and reccommendations float around the blogosphere and I am only one little person with two little eyes. But I continued seeing her name and this book. Then ignoring. Then seeing. Then ignoring. 

I paused a moment when I saw her mentioned on Mighty Girl, because I am an enormous fangirl of that site, but then dismissed it because Maggie talks about lots of books. What makes this one special?

Then, one day, I saw Ree talk about it. Ree doesn’t talk much about books….but she was talking about this one. On a visit to her ranch around that time we were small talking about how we are busy people (yes, this is all relative) but I remember her mentioning the book and that she was changing things in her work life. Finishing her commitments, but then changing what she said yes to in the future. That is a powerful thing to see happen with someone who is on the rise. I must have noted all this somewhere in my brain. A couple of weeks later on vacation, while I was wandering around the cold, drizzly, filthy Haight-Ashbury district, I popped into a wonderful bookstore and piddled around until I found this:


I never, ever buy books (libraries have free books), so convinced myself that this was “a souvenir.” I may have read a few pages while still in San Francisco, but dug in deep on the plane ride home. I finished it shortly after and took it back on a plane when I went to Camp Mighty, while notating it during a re-read. This book was preparing me.

It was preparing me for things I could have never dreamed I was about to experience, beautiful and tragic. 

I came back from Camp Mighty changed. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something had shifted. Those who are present in their bodies would refer to this as intuition. This is something I’m learning to hear and respect. I can remember it being late November and my partner remarking, “Are you ok? You seem far away.” The memory of those words never more poignant and ironic than they were in at the beginning of this year when within a few weeks he checked out and subsequently left. I hadn’t gone anywhere, though. I was just getting reconciled on some discoveries that had emerged while reading this book about living life bravely. 

It comes to no great shock to anyone that I am externally validated. Since reading Daring Greatly, I am less so, but this will be a lifetime of undoing. Shame has a hold on me just as much as it does anyone else. I live in constant comparison, both to people I admire and to people I do not respect. “Gosh, so-and-so really has it together. When am I going to get it together? But holy lord, at least I’m not what’s-his-name.” Negative or positive, it doesn’t matter. Comparison is the thief of joy. I also live in scarcity and fear, which for me manifests as “If I could just get a ____, then I’d feel good about _____.” or the running shame tapes of never ____ enough: smart, thin, pretty, clever, understanding, funny, supportive, accomplished, etc… If I were a perfectionist I’d be exhausted from trying to keep up with those fears. Instead, I run from those feelings and numb with whatever I’ve got at my disposal at the time: food, friends, sex, shopping, researching, internet, or whatever else will keep me busy and distracted from the feelings of Not Enough. Like many (or all) of us, I am a mess inside my head. I only say this so that you feel less alone. We are so very not alone in these feelings. (The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection. You know… sociopaths.) We are socially conditioned from the beginning to have these habits that make us miserable.

I could go deeper into my shit, but I think you get the idea. Finding this book was a breath of fresh air because it named things I have always felt. I’m now able to be more specific in my feelings. I can speak. I can better ask for help. 

Perhaps the most exciting piece in this book, for me, is I now have a goal for what I want to be. It is called Wholehearted. And she’s written guideposts on Wholehearted Living, based on more than a decade of work as a qualitative researcher.

Ten Guideposts of Wholehearted Living

1) Cultivate Authenticity: Letting go of what people think

2) Cultivate Self-Compassion: Letting go of perfectionism

3) Cultivate a Resilient Spirit: Letting go of numbing and powerlessness

4) Cultivate Gratitude and Joy: Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark

5) Cultivate Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting go of the need for certainity

6) Cultivate Creativity: Letting go of comparison

7) Cultivate Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and ‘productivity as self-worth’

8) Cultivate Calm and Stillness: Letting go of anxiety as a lifestyle

9) Cultivate Meaningful Work: Letting go of self-doubt and “supposed to”

10) Cultivate Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting go of being cool and “always in control.”

I certainly think that’s enough for one post. Chew on it. Go buy the book. No really. Buy it, then as you’re checking out toss in a highlighter or post-it flags — you’ll need them.

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