If you are a perfectionist, compare yourself to others, have low self-esteem, have high self-esteem, love your life, hate your life, or if you are carbon based aka human, you should read The Gifts of Imperfection. It’s an incredibly powerful book that helped me change the way I think about shame, vulnerability, and joy.
Day two of the conference actually began with me not feeling and waking up early only to find a text from a good friend who was watching Angie that said she had chewed through her leash (Angie, not my friend). If you saw this post, that shouldn’t surprise you. I think she was very confused as to why her mama was gone and hadn’t come back. Like a toddler, she acted out a little and apparently found her way ON TOP of the kitchen counter. Not just paws, we’re talking her whole body. I ended up witnessing this when I took out the trash last night and was gone for less than a minute and as she heard the door open saw her jump off. Unbelievable. She knows better than that and I’m not saying it’s acceptable behavior, but I’ve had her a little over a month and no doubt she was probably scared this weekend.
I will now pick up where we left off with Brené’s presentation. The crux of her argument was based on vulnerability. She explained that many people choose not to be vulnerable because it can be very painful, dangerous, and feels unsafe. I think as a culture, we are not raised to be vulnerable. It’s much easier to put a mask of perfection on than it is to put yourself out there and say, “I’m vulnerable.” We avoid it because it’s a part of shame, scarcity, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty and those can all be really uncomfortable emotions. She argues that we have become so accustomed to “armoring up” to protect ourselves against vulnerability that it sticks to us, and to peel that layer back feels like taking off a second skin.
However, she also said that vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, creativity, gratitude, authenticity, accountability, and adaptability. I want me some of that and Brené Brown suggests that one of the first steps in cultivating joy is to embrace our vulnerability. Instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, why not just be grateful for what you have?
It was this tidbit of information that really struck me because I never really thought that I was always waiting for something bad to happen as soon as I acknowledged that things were good. Fear and vulnerability kept me from doing things I wanted to do and harmed relationships that I am now salvaging. Instead of waiting for something bad to happen, I tried to beat fate to the punch so at least I could be in control.
Another step to cultivating joy is to let go of numbing, which is something I know absolutely nothing about (I say with heavy sarcasm). A really important person in my life who I cut ties with last year out of fear and vulnerability during the worst parts of my illness (but we are now rekindling our relationship), told me that when I try to numb the bad, I also numb the good. I denied this adamantly and said that I used eating disorder symptoms to numb out all the pain (even though it kept coming back worse each time) but that I couldn’t feel any joy because joy didn’t exist in my life. If there was joy, I would have felt it, or so I thought. I’ve long since learned that he was right. You can’t have the light without the dark and you can’t feel the good without the bad. Life just doesn’t work that way and the human mind and experience doesn’t work that way. Brené (I speak of her as if I know her, but I mean no disrespect by using her first name) confirmed this.
Finally, we must own our stories. Shame tells us we are not good enough and many of us have orphaned or let go of parts of our stories so that we will fit in. When we are willing to own the parts of our lives that we may not want to claim as our own or we don’t want to remember, we let ourselves be seen, we become authentic, and we can start to realize that we are enough the way we are. I am enough. I am enough. I am enough. This is what we should be telling ourselves when we go to bed at night, even if we didn’t get everything done or do it perfectly. We are enough the way we are.
After listening to three hours of this incredibly motivating and inspiring speech, I just felt this joy inside. ”Yeah, maybe I am enough,” I thought to myself as I left the massive conference room filled with over 500 women and between 7 and 10,000 viewers streaming in. This was when I decided to gather all my courage and walk into the room where Kris Carr was speaking. All the conferences ended at the same time so it was her speaking with a few other people (her co-presenter and someone else) and I stood there waiting to be noticed, butterflies in my stomach, until she turned around and I became a little starstruck and forgot how to speak English. Ok, it wasn’t that bad but I was so excited to meet her and I got the chance to share with her my story and she gave me some really valuable pieces of advice as well as a picture:
I had zero makeup on and felt really self-conscious and yes, vulnerable, but at the same time, just beaming that I got such an amazing moment and it’s one I’ll never forget. To be validated by Kris Carr was pretty f-ing awesome.
Well everyone, I’m off to work on some stuff for this week’s Project Rawvitalize, which will come back new and improved tomorrow! Hope you had a great Monday!