Megan Winkler aka the Brainy Babe is running a book club on her Facebook group Mindfully Happy Squad. The August/September book is Brené
Brown’s The gifts of imperfection. I first came across Brené a year or so ago. She is famous for her research on shame and vulnerability. I had been meaning to read one of her books for ages so
this was of course the perfect opportunity to finally get down to it.
I am about half way through and am totally loving it! This is not going to be a book review though but I want to pick just one topic that really resonates with me. The book is like a guidebook to what Brené terms Wholehearted Living. One of the elements is courage. She goes on to explain that the root of the word courage is the Latin ‘cor’ meaning heart and that courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”
To me is this is powerful in several ways. It means we all have the ability to be courageous. It also emphasizes the importance of being YOU as well as acknowledging that what sounds easy and straightforward isn’t always quite so easy and may take courage.
One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2018 is to listen to my intuition more often, to be my authentic self which also means setting boundaries and speaking up for myself. It came as a bit of a surprise to myself just how often I don’t do that and how easily self-doubt can creep in. Life is continuously giving me small and big opportunities to practice. More than half way through the year, I can recognize the feeling I get when I am living from a place of integrity to my own values as opposed to when I am in people-pleasing and approval mode. It’s liberating even if it’s not always easy. It’s so worth it.
A month ago Tiny Buddha published my article on what I learned from watching my mum die. I will admit that I had been anxious about how people would react to it. I mostly feared that people would not see anything useful or helpful in what I had shared and would literally wonder why I bothered to write it all down, let alone publish.
The reactions and comments the article actually got were heart-warming instead. People who had had similar experiences, felt that the article mirrored their own feelings to a large extent. There was a sense that they felt understood and could relate. And many thanked me for sharing my journey so openly. Some people contacted me to say that they were going through a similar experience right now with loved ones having just been diagnosed and that they were taking my article as a signpost for the journey ahead. I’ve been deeply touched and to me it’s more evidence that beauty can indeed arise from the darkest moments of our lives.
Just last week, one of my business contacts mentioned the article (which goes to show that more people read it than I know about) and suggested that I might want to reconsider posting it so openly. I was taken aback. The whole point of the article was to be read and it would have been pointless had I not shown up fully and raw and open. I also couldn’t get how it could possibly “damage” me.
His comment of course only underlines one of the things I wrote about: death is a tricky subject for many people and they’d rather not talk about it (he referred to it as “the article about my mum”). He meant well (and this is not meant to be shaming him either!) but for somebody else this comment could have led to shame. It didn’t for me. And I am writing this because it shouldn’t for you either. Always remember that nobody can shame you. Don’t be afraid of what other people may think (which you are unlikely to find out anyway) or say. I know I won’t be liked by everyone nor do I need approval. Me opening up about my experience helped other people opening up about theirs. And that is where the power of “telling all your heart” lies. It creates connection.
And as a side note which takes me back to Brené Brown: one of the elements of shame resilience identified by her research is to speak about it. Admit to yourself how you feel and share it.
“Courage is like a muscle; it is strengthened by use. “ Ruth Gordon
Enjoy the courage-gym!