It takes a tremendous amount of courage to face our own vulnerabilities Yet it is the only way to free our authentic self so we can be our absolute best.
I’ve spent the past several years committed to mindfulness so that I could free myself from making the same mistakes over and over while wishing for a much different outcome. Becoming aware of my self-imposed ineffective behavior patterns for dealing with conflict, resentments and disappointments was an eye opener — and often heartbreaking. I had to face and own my life story.
It is exactly the place where Brene Brown encourages each of us to go.
Before we can truly make strong positive human connections, Brene says we have to understand our own pain first. It’s about getting up close and personal with our own vulnerabilities — and that takes blunt honesty and a boatload of courage.
It is our personal stories that shape us and keep our authentic selves at bay. We develop coping mechanisms to deal with fear, shame and not being good enough. We avoid conflicts, we stuff our hurts and disappointments, we get angry easily, we blame others. And all the while, it just doesn’t feel good because we are not in alignment with our true selves.
During a recent Facebook live feed from her current book tour, Brene acknowledged that “anger is a catalyst for change. It is also a terrible life companion. Anger is too big a price to pay for our lives,” she said.
I feel the same way about shame and fear. All three of these emotions are often found in our life stories and in fact sometimes they are best friends to each other.
Once we can own our own stories and recognize where anger, fear or shame was the birthplace for our ineffective behavior patterns, we need to be kind and compassionate to ourselves. Stuffing our emotions and letting our hurts marinate robs us of our joy. Lashing out in anger isolates us from others and blocks problem resolution. Avoiding conflict results in resentment, misunderstandings and low self-esteem. Most importantly, we become disengaged from each other. We lose our human connection.
I’ve been looking for the bridge between personal mindfulness and expanded connection with others. How do I take what I have learned from my mindfulness practices and build stronger, healthier, authentic relationships with people?
It starts with each of us gaining a deeper understanding of our own stories and taking responsibility for unproductive or destructive behaviors that we adopted because of our story. We cannot let our stories deprive us of being the best version of ourselves each and every day.
And then we need to create that bridge to reach out to others — to listen to their stories, to show compassion and empathy, to find some common ground and gain better understanding, to make amends, to seek compromise and solutions.
Not only is this relevant in our families and workplaces, it is increasingly important for our communities and country.
Brene Brown’s latest book, Braving the Wilderness, is chock full of relatable, tangible ideas for shifting us back to a much-needed human connection. I encourage you to read her book and check out her live streams on Facebook. She’s refreshing, inspiring and she’s providing leadership tools for anyone who wants to make a difference.