Self-proclaimed “shame researcher” Brene Brown first entered my awareness a few years ago when I was listening to her interviewed on National Public Radio. I was exhilarated to learn there was an actual person researching the phenomenon of shame and extrapolating from those findings practical, hopeful, actionable insights for people desiring to live “in the truth” of who they are. In other words, she appeared in my life at exactly the right time, a period of intense change and transition during which I began asking myself, “How can I live more fully, less materialistically, and enjoy the fruits of just being ME in this crazy world?”.
Having been raised Catholic during the 70’s, the word shame resonated BIG TIME. I was shrouded in shame from an early age. It was the easiest means of eliciting good behavior, I suppose. But damaging to the core once a person learns how to think for herself. I don’t blame anybody for accessing this useful behavior modification technique, but I have been determined to dedicate my adult life to banishing every shred of shame from my path and seeking out ways for understanding the way people think and act, instead.
What does this random thought mean on a Wednesday morning in February, friends? I mention it because I have discovered that Brene Brown, her research and writing, her TedTalks and mere co-existence with me during my time on this Earth, has opened up for me a very optimistic, hopeful and enthusiastic approach to moving forward in life. We live the first part of our lives following the rules and “setting up shop,” so to speak, so we can “have” things like a good job, a nice family, a safe home and other standards of living well. But Brene Brown reminds us to be brave, open-hearted and courageous enough to look within ourselves for the ultimate source of “living well.” Like shame, external forces and identifiers of “success” can pull us off course from the destiny our uniqueness can attain. Brene Brown helps me come closer to finding that “true self” every time I read something she has written and commit to practicing authenticity, allowing my true self to be seen.
I am inspired this morning by the opening quote from the chapter “Cultivating Authenticity” in Brene Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection:
Often people attempt to live their lives backwards: they try to have more things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want so that they will be happier. The way it actually works is the reverse. You must first be who you really are, then do what you really need to do, in order to have what you want.
Today, I am just grateful to have access to Brene Brown’s wisdom during this time of my life, and I hope you will seek her work out, too. Joyfully and Authentically yours, Joan