My current ‘learning read’ is Brené Brown’s ‘The Gifts of Imperfection‘. I’ve been reading it for weeks now because I’ve got a little more on my plate than normal, but every time I pick it up I’m encouraged and validated.
I know many of you already know and love Brené’s work. I was first introduced by my Dad who encouraged me to watch her two Ted Talks on Vulnerability and Shame. Back then, almost two years ago now, I was struggling to come to terms with my mother’s betrayal and trying to understand how someone could be so deceptive as to create a false story and live it for so many years.
These talks did help me to answer some of my questions, particularly this comment in her shame talk: “We’re pretty sure that the only people who don’t experience shame are people who have no capacity for connection or empathy.” That was huge for me and helped me with finding understanding of my mother’s actions and to accept that it was unlikely that she would change.
This was also great for my personal growth as it meant that I could finally give up the fantasy that Mum would change and my wonky belief that I could or needed to help her with that. Finally I could move on with my own family and start to really live. Brené’s talk on Vulnerability inspired me to continue being open and vulnerable with others despite the risk of being hurt again.
I recently went looking for Rising Strong in our library system and didn’t find it (it’s still on my wishlist). I found The Gifts of Imperfection instead and am glad I did. It is in this book that Brené goes into more details about her shame and vulnerability research. She writes about 10 guideposts for wholehearted living: about Cultivating Authenticity, Self-Compassion, a Resilient Spirit, Gratitude and Joy, Intuition and Trusting Faith, Creativity, Play and Rest, Calm and Stillness, Meaningful Work, and Laughter, Song and Dance.
With these ten things to cultivate she talks about ten things to let go of: What People Think, Perfectionism, Numbing and Powerlessness, Scarcity and Fear of the Dark, the Need for Certainty, Comparison, Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth, Anxiety as a Lifestyle, Self-Doubt and “Supposed To” and Being Cool and “Always in Control’.
I’m reading Guidepost #3 about Cultivating a Resilient Spirit and I’m intrigued that she writes that spirituality is a necessary component for resilience. In the opening paragraph of the chapter, resilience is ‘the ability to overcome adversity’. We certainly all need a dose of resilience then, don’t we? I’ve encountered plenty of what I would call adversity in my life and I’m sure that the majority of people could say the same.
“Feelings of hopelessness, fear, blame, pain, discomfort, vulnerability, and disconnection sabotage resilience. The only experience that seems broad and fierce enough to combat a list like that is the belief that we’re all in this together and that something greater than us has the capacity to bring love and compassion into our lives.” from Guidepost #3, The Gifts of Imperfection
I can say that my early connection with a loving being has been a very large contributor to my being able to survive the trials I’ve had to date. My faith became personal to me about the age of 14 years and I have often experienced a presence that has helped me to feel that I’m not alone, that Someone greater than me cares about me and loves me. And I’ve seen evidence of this in countless ways.
These days I’m still pondering how this all fits in the larger scheme of things as I have moved away from organized religion. It’s been a process of letting go of the unhelpful pieces and holding on to the essence. But the essence of what? As I’m sure you can tell I’m still mulling over it all and I like to think that this will be a life-time challenge. I don’t think we are ever meant to have it all figured out!
Brené writes that the heart of spirituality is connection and that practicing spirituality is what brings healing and creates resilience. These points resonate with me and are true in my experience. It seems that having some form of spirituality is important for wholehearted living but Brené writes that she didn’t find that any one particular interpretation has a corner on the resilience market.
I just googled the meaning of spirituality and found this interesting article: What is Spirituality? It begins with “Spirituality is a broad concept with room for many perspectives.” I really like that as it helps me to better understand why I have moved away from religion but still consider my spirituality a vital part of who I am.
How about you? Is spirituality important in your life?