When Brené Brown was giving her amazing Ted Talk in June 2010 (The Power of Vulnerability), I would have been in the middle of a life-altering healing process that transformed me into the whole-hearted person that she describes, most exactly! This social-researcher-storyteller is one insightful woman! I would have loved her job, a research-based doctor of social work learning exactly what makes people tick – not from a psychologist’s perspective but that of a social worker’s training and viewpoint. Brené has captured my quintessential nature and what I have worked my entire adult life to understand and finally be the person I was designed to be; she captures it all in a couple sentences.
Yes, I can finally say that I am a ‘whole-hearted’ person. The term does not mean that I have an especially big heart but rather, that I live my life FROM my heart, authentically, in a way that makes connection with like-minded souls possible. Whole-hearted people are able to live without shame, to embrace their own vulnerability because they understand that being vulnerable is a bridge to connection, joy, happiness, contentment, confidence, self-assurance, and being their authentic, fullest selves. As Brené explains it, these people are willing to risk, to do a thing even when there are no guarantees, to be the first to say “I love you”, to risk rejection through approaching someone for the sole purpose of getting to know them better.
As I listened to Ms. Brown, it dawned on me that I am one of those whole-hearted people. OMG! That’s truly an amazing realization given my history of self-doubt, depression and generalized anxiety. But it makes complete sense looking back. Depression is what allowed me – okay, what forced me – to let go of who I had been conditioned to think I should be, and to come out the other side as the person I was meant to be. Well, duh!! Lightening bolt! Hindsight thinks it’s so brilliant, doesn’t it?
Brené also mentions that whole-hearted people have the self-compassion to love themselves first. I am one of the lucky ones who does this by default; I’ve always understood that I can’t be much good to anyone else without my being whole and well. Some people feel selfish when they think of satisfying their own needs; they feel guilty if they are good to themselves (much better to deny themselves, right! they’re not sure why that’s good, but they believe it anyway.) What an upside-down world when it’s okay to train the next generation in that way.
Say: No More! Say: I am worthy of my own compassion. Know this: As Carl Jung said, your history is not who you are, it’s what you do with it that makes you YOU.
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