"Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, 'No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.' It`s going to bed at night thinking, 'Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn`t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.'" - Brené Brown
After finishing Tara Brach`s "Radical Acceptance", I was looking forward to reading a new book and decided for Brené Brown`s "Daring Greatly". I have heard of Brené before and also watched her famous TED talk as well as Netflix documentary, but never really engaged with her much given her scientific approach. I personally do not need to look into the science to understand that there is more behind how we live, lead, and work, although it is definitely worthwhile to look into the data as Brené nicely shows. I was now receptive to engage with Brené`s work again as I feel - after having taking a huge leap - that I am still moving forward cautiously, which may be understandable if you are in new terrain, but I also knew that I can build more on my inner resourcefulness and be braver.
When I opened the first few pages, Brené`s witty, authentic, and open writing style immediately struck me. The book dives into worthiness, vulnerability, courage and seems to have arrived in my life at the exact right time. Here are already my 3 key insights that I want to deepen in my own life from now on:
1. We often don`t act from a place of worthiness
I remember when I was an undergraduate student and our university provided us with a coaching offer - and in retrospect, it was actually the first time I got in touch with Coaching! I don`t recall what exactly we have talked about - probably about adjusting to studies while having moved out from home for the first time - but I remember when my coach (a great woman) suddenly told me, "You are worthy." Without realizing, tears ran down my face and I later understood that I was so trapped in my achievement hamsterwheel to prove my worth, that it was a revolutionary and strange thought that I was actually worthy just as as person, as myself.
Since then I have always tried to work on my worthiness, esp. when it comes to romantic relationships. And although my relationship with myself has improved a lot and also deepened in great ways with spirituality, it never really clicked with me and I admit that there are still some automatic beliefs - after disappointing and hurtful experiences - accepting that I wouldn`t be worthy of lasting and fulfilling love, success, and joy. These thoughts want to come out more during my lower mood, as generally I am a very happy person, excited for life. But as Brené writes in her book, often after our childhood, we have come to live from a place of unworthiness rather than a place of feeling loved, accepted, and supported for all that we are.
2. We believe in a world of scarcity and "never enough"
Also this concept wasn`t new to me - but it was a great reminder, with Brené`s engaging writing style, to realize how we can make our lives more painful ourselves. Brené gives a great example outlining when we wake up - we often quickly think "we didn`t sleep enough", "we don`t look fresh enough", "we don´t have enough what others have". If we mindfully - meaning also compassionately - observe ourselves, it is mind-blowing how we judge and compare ourselves. Yes, this inclination may come from our pop culture (focus on celebrities) and media (economics of consumption), but also because all the external factors meet a wound in us - that of inadequacy and unworthiness.
Knowing this, we can train our perception in finding what we do have enough of. A coach shared a great question with me asking "What is right?" instead of always suspecting "What is wrong?". Knowing our current environment where we live in, we can better understand what is now needed - a grain of courage and willingness to be vulnerable.
3. If we want love and live a purposeful life, we need to be willing to be vulnerable
Brené outlines the concept and perception of vulnerability and courage from many amazing angles. One is, for example, that vulnerability may be often seen as a weak or negative emotion, which likely prevents us from getting in touch with it even for a second. Also in today`s society, we often associate success, wealth, and fame with a personality that has it altogether, that is confident, and that doesn`t tremble. However, escaping into work, money, or status only confirms our underlying feeling of inadequacy and makes life less enjoyable and one-sided also (because we never get past our vulnerability).
The funny and hopeful thing about vulnerablity is that we ourselves love stories about people that have shared their own vulnerable stories to conquer their battles / sicknesses / personal hardships, but when it comes to us, we don`t like to be in that place. Because it takes courage, it takes willingness to show ourselves, to be exposed to emotional risks, to be literally naked. Often before we go into the arena of life, we only see the potential risks and threats, but not what can await us - not only on the other side, but also on our journey to a life fully lived. But even if have that vision at sight, our fears may be still so strong keeping us in our comfort zone.
My coach reminded me that if I ever want to meet my partner, then I have to put myself out there. There is no other way - of course, it can always be that a prince will arrive and rescue me in my locked up room, but do I want to rely on that? What if no one will ever come and years of years are passing by, with chances to live, to enjoy life, to meet other great people and learn from them even if they aren`t a match or maybe only for a temporary time? And how can I know that even if someone shows up that he is also the one? How can he even know that we both match? And isn`t life about all this? To gain experiences, to make all kinds of experiences, to feel truly alive and human? This is what many people in Brené`s studies on wholehearted living had shared - that even though they were afraid asking for a promotion, or going for a date after a divorce, or saying no against group pressure - often they felt terrified, but also alive, fearful and strong, uncertain and present. I love this outline - it shows that we are not here to live a life protected 24/7 and shut away in a safe castle, but to be out there, meet other fellows, and live our lives with every cell of us. I also like to highlight that this is not about being a martyr running blindly towards expected harm and pain, but choosing courage over comfort as we often hold ourselves back more than necessary. It is still us choosing how far we can go, so just take one little step and explore life from that brave, vulnerable, alive place.
Love, from me to you,
What does it mean for you to be vulnerable? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)
Inspiration: Brené Brown - Daring Greatly
Reflection: Where can I be braver where I usually stay in my comfort zone?
Intention: I explore my tendency to stay in my comfort zone, where I can also choose a different life experience.
Viet Linh Le is a female visionary, qualified coach with corporate experience, and multi-cultural founder of @vietnamwellbeing, with the mission to change our world by coaching the next-generation decision-makers. Find out more on www.vietlinhle.com