Coffee Conversations | Episode 3: The Gifts of Imperfection

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Brene Brown changed my life.

As one of the first, “self help” authors that I’ve read when I really started getting into the space (senior year of college), she opened my eyes wide open.

Brown is a powerhouse research professor + spent years studying shame and vulnerability. I read her book, Daring Greatly, and was in awe of the message that she shared. I will absolutely cover that book in an upcoming Coffee Conversations episode, but today I want to focus on the predecessor of that book… The Gifts of Imperfection.

The tagline of the book is, “Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life”.

Last night, I read the first few chapters of the book + I wanted to share them with you all.

The major purpose of the book is to teach us how to live what Brown calls, “a Wholehearted Life”.

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She calls for us all to let go of the “never good enough” and “who do you think you are” mentalities that hold us all back from our greatest, most joyous life. And what are all of these thoughts… Well, they’re fears.

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy–the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Brown says that in order to live the “Wholehearted Life” you have to practice and cultive three powerful behaviors: Courage, Compassion and Connection. The major theme running through each of these behaviors is vulnerability. You know, that scary feeling of “should I say it or should I not” and “should I do it or should I not”. Vulnerability takes all of these behaviors + pushes them forward.

So, I am going to define each of the behaviors as she lays out in the book.

Courage

Today, courage is about putting our vulnerability out on the line for the whole world to see. Brown says that, “every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver”

And how true is that? When you’re surrounded by someone who’s full of courage – you know, that person who’s got life by the leash and owns who they are – don’t we all feel a little more courage because of them.

That person who’s willing to speak up + share their truth.

I admire that person.

I strive to be that person.

It’s not easy. It’s really freaking scary to act with courage. I have to push myself to do it each + every day. BUT, it’s liberating when I do. Like I said, it’s a work in progress for me.

Courage is a “ripple effect” – when we act with courage, we open the space for others to do the same. And wouldn’t the world be a–lotta–bit better if everyone felt like they had a safe space to express themselves.

Compassion

This one was the most eye opening for me. My definition / idea of compassion completely flipped after reading this.

The book says, “When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently towards what scares us.”

But Brown makes a point to say that compassion is NOT wallowing in our friends / loved ones pain when they’re going through something.

She says, “compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness we can be present with the darkness of others.”

Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.

Are you jaw–dropped at that? Because I am.

For the longest time, I thought that compassion was putting yourself right there with someone who is experiencing pain or trauma.

BUT instead, it’s about an experience of relating to someone else based on our own abilities to feel those emotions. It’s not necessarily about bringing your energy down to meet the person who is experiencing pain. It’s more so about giving them a strong and encouraging voice of, “I’ve been there.”

Connection

The last one is connection.

Brown defines it as, “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship”.

She actually calls us out for our feeling of being connected due to social media.

Something that I strive to always make sure on my social outlets / blog is that you’re all SEEN, HEARD, + can relate.

I truly strive to be connected with you all.

I never want there to be a barrier.

I want this to be an open book / an open space for us all.

So, all in all… The journey to a wholehearted life is NOT the path of least resistance. It’s a path of “consciousness and choice”.

It’s the willingness to voice our stories, feel the pain of others + be able to stay genuinely connected in today’s world of disconnection or falsified connection.

I hope that you all enjoyed this post, I truly enjoyed writing it.

Talk tomorrow,

XO,

Emily

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