My Zoom book club has taken a summer break and I am missing the camaraderie of good friends taking deep dives into rich conversations about life. Perhaps it is why listening to Brene Brown and her twin sisters, Barrett and Ashley, discuss the ten guideposts of the Gifts of Imperfection has been such a treat. I totally marinated myself in the realness of these three sisters having those big conversations. Honestly, you would never have guessed that this was a public podcast. It just felt like being part of a no-holds barred girls getaway.
Brene and her sisters used the Summer series of Unlocking Us to talk about how they use the 10 guideposts in their own lives. Mostly they talk about how challenging it is to break old habits and integrate new ones; how helpful it is to unpack how they developed learned behaviors earlier in life that aren’t serving them so well now. They took those deep dives into two of the ten guideposts every week. There was a lot of laughter, some very serious aha moments and a warm wash of being heard and valued that felt like a cozy blanket and a hug.
They used the Wholehearted Living Inventory as a starting point for each week. Brene offers this tool on her website and encouraged her listeners to take it before they listened to the podcast. Brene’s approach is to consider using a gas tank analogy for each of the 10 guideposts — measuring how full your tank is on each of the life skills. This is so much better than viewing it through a strength and weaknesses lens. That mindset alone makes such a difference. It is also a relatable and relevant way to look at how we are showing up in life.
As the three women talked about having just a half tank in some of the areas, it opened up a lot of really good dialogue about awareness and change. It was a safe and inviting space to do that exploration and excavation.
And….the reality is that even when we have the best of intentions, it is really hard to have a full tank in all ten of these guideposts at one time. To me, it is the interweaving of these guideposts that creates a strong framework for personal growth. When we only have half a tank in one area and we might have 3/4 of a tank in another. That combines to lift us up — to a better version of ourselves. It is the natural rhythm of life, an ebb and flow of our emotions, events, energy and intentions.
Check out this awesome diagram for the 10 guideposts. The left hand side in bright green are the qualities to cultivate. The right hand side in “stop this” red are the things to work on releasing.
Brene and her sisters use a lot of the same tools that I do to help them integrate the guideposts into their own personal growth journey. The enneagram is a great resource for understanding our core motivations for some of our learned behaviors and best of all it helps us recognize our blind spots. The enneagram also uses a measurement approach similar to the gas tank analogy — it is a spectrum, from healthy to unhealthy. When we move to the healthy end of enneagram type, we are using our gifts and talents in the best ways possible. We find more joy and fulfillment in life and others enjoy being in relationship with us. When we start operating on auto-pilot and act more unconsciously, we move to the unhealthy end of the spectrum. Often this is when we begin to have relationship issues, are prone to numbing to avoid painful emotions and make poor choices.
Being a big believer in both the enneagram and Brene’s work, it was so beneficial for me to hear how using these tools in tandem were so meaningful to Brene, Barrett and Ashley.
Another area that really resonated with me was the candor with which these three siblings could talk about their childhood, the experiences that shaped them as they were growing up. Brene is the oldest and she assumed the role of protector for her younger sisters. Like so many of us, their childhood also had dysfunction weaving through it and this set them up for many of those roadblocks that are in that red column above — being a control freak, having a need for certainty, always comparing ourselves to others who seem to be doing it right, working ourselves to exhaustion to prove our worth.
As they discussed these experiences and how it shaped each of them, they also revealed how they were coming to know their parents in a whole new light — mostly as messy, flawed and big-hearted human beings doing the best they could at that time. This is one of the gifts is truly a blessing that goes both ways — adult children gaining a deeper perspective and parents being given space and grace for all they navigated, often with little support for their overall quality of life. This is where we often discover the root causes of so many of our unconscious behaviors that are listed in that red zone above. Brene research shines a light on the armor we use from one generation to another to be protect ourselves. Getting our family skeletons out of the closet is just like mom or dad shining a flashlight under our bed when we were young, confirming that the monster was mostly a figment of our imagination.
I see a lot of overlap in the discussions that Brene and her sisters had and my Zoom book club. We are taking what we are learning and applying it to our lives — past and present. Applying it to the past fosters healing. Applying it to the present frees us to live authentically. We are helping each other along the way through honesty and vulnerability.
I’m also part of several Facebooks groups that revolve around Brene’s Dare to Lead teachings and Glennon Doyle’s game changing book, Untamed. For the most part, the women and men in these online discussion groups are strangers. Yet there is a clear understanding that we are there to support each other with respect, kindness and empathy. The outpouring of stories, questions and a need for supportive help is profound. Every single day, there are a handful of stories that look and feel much like pages in the book of my life. It is incredibly uplifting to read the touching, encouraging responses. It is even more profound to see how many people have overcome tragedies and adversities and now are shining beacons of hope for others.
So there it is — Brene’s podcast, my Zoom book club and these online discussion groups — all taking that leap of faith and sharing their imperfections and vulnerabilities — and inspiring each other to keep going, keep growing and lean in to those who care.
Please check out Nedra Tawwab — especially if you want some solid footing when it comes to setting healthy boundaries. I discovered Nedra through a Being Well podcast with Dr. Rick Hanson and his son, Forrest. I follow her on Instagram and absolutely love her Nedra Nuggets! https://www.nedratawwab.com