Getting Rid of Imperfection and Shame: Brene Brown’s Urge to Live a Whole-Hearted Life
I attended Blissdom for my job, my expectations were to make contacts, meet new people and enjoy hearing about others. As I sat listening to our keynote speaker, Brene Brown, I was completely unaware of the ways in which my life was about to change. She is one of the most fascinating and moving speakers and you can't listen to her without feeling sucked in and moved to action. Tears were shed, heads were nodding and conversations persisted long after she had left the podium. (Here is a link to Brene Brown's speech.)
Brene has dedicated her life to the study of “shame” and how to live with our whole heart. This is her mission from her website, “As I stand back and look at the work I’ve done over the past ten years, I can clearly see that the heart of my work is about the very human need to live with authenticity, love and belonging, and a resilient spirit. I call this WholeHearted living. I have dedicated my career to studying difficult topics like shame, empathy, and vulnerability because I want to know, in my head and in my heart, why we’re all so afraid to let our true selves be seen and known. I want to hear and tell the stories that inspire us to be real, imperfect, and powerful. The core of WholeHearted living is connection.” As if this message isn’t powerful enough, to hear her speak will bring anyone to tears. I felt as if she was giving us permission to be ourselves and just being ourselves was enough.
She touched me in so many different ways and forced me to see things about myself that I had wanted to hide for years. Emotional, sensitive, scared, and lonely are some of the many labels that I have used over the years to define myself. Feeling cursed with this soft heart and inability to put on a “game face”, Brene gave me the permission to embrace it instead. I felt moved to write her an email immediately thanking her for this feeling of belonging and understanding. I also emailed my friends who I trusted "to move a body" and thanked them for their friendship. When the conference was over I rushed over to get a hug from this amazing woman, and of course I bought her book, The Gifts of Imperfection! I can’t wait to start this journey of releasing and forgiving myself for being so “emotional”. (As I mentioned before, her speech makes you want to take action.)
In the wake of her moving speech, I found myself sharing my real feelings about my daughter to the special needs tribe. It was the first time in two and half years that I have actually admitted my grief. My daughter was diagnosed with a genetic condition called Tuberous Sclerosis at one month old. Since her diagnosis, it has only been a story I told about her, but it wasn't real. Our lives have been filled with doctor's appointments, specialist appointments, and therapists. I had not really stopped to think about what I felt about all of it. I had put on the "brave face." Brene took down my barriers, I cried for the first time.
The crux of her research is “WholeHearted” living. She has studied many of the stumbling blocks to finding this in ourselves—shame, being vulnerable, and empathy. Being an emotional person, I have heard so many things believed to teach me “tough love”, “build character”, or teach me to be “strong. Statements such as “You wear your feelings on your sleeve”, “Never let anyone see how you really feel”, “Fake it”, and “In order to succeed in life, you have to put on a game face”. I heard these, but really couldn’t do it, I was never comfortable in my own skin and hated myself for not being able to squelch my emotional side. I hated being “vulnerable” to my emotions and others.
My daughter has given me the greatest gift—wholehearted love. As I mentioned earlier she has a genetic condition that has left her future very uncertain. After hearing Brene talk about wholeheart love and vulnerability, realized that is exactly how I love my daughter. My daughter holds my heart in her hands and I am all right with it, even though she could break my heart more than anyone. I have let down all of my defenses and allowed myself to feel all of the emotions associated with loving her. It isn't easy, it hurts very deeply at times, but it also makes the joy a little sweeter, the laughter a little stronger, and life a little more exhilirating. She has taught me about vulnerability—nothing will drive this home like—looking at your child and knowing there is nothing you can do to change her situation.
After hearing Brene speak and gaining this new awareness, I look forward to learning more about wholehearted living. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to be there completely for their families and themselves.By Shannon Henrici of My Baby Clothes. We provide articles to give back to the parenting community with information to help better themselves and the lives of their children. Welcome a new baby into the world with one of our adorable tutu sets with matching baby headbands for your future prima ballerina.