Saturday, September 12, 2015

Authenticity - letting go of what people think

The first of the "guideposts" in Brene Brown's book 'The Gifts of Imperfection' is on "Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think." This is an area where I can definitely use some growth. For as authentic as I think I am (or pretend to be), I'm not sure I am as much as I think.

I'm just going to include some highlights from what I read...

On p. 50 she says,
"Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means...
  • cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
  • exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and
  • nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough
Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.

 On p. 53...
"As we struggle to be authentic and brave, it's important to remember that cruelty always hurts, even if the criticisms are untrue. When we go against the grain and put ourselves and our work out in the world, some people will feel threatened and they will go after what hurts the most -- our appearance, our lovability, and even our parenting.

The problem is that when we don't care at all what people think and we're immune to hurt, we're also ineffective at connecting. Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism. Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection....

...I think we should be born with a warning label similar to the ones that come on cigarette packages: Caution: If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.
She closes this chapter by stating, "Whenever I'm faced with a vulnerable situation, I get deliberate with my intentions by repeating this to myself: 'Don't shrink. Don't puff up. Stand on your sacred ground.' I think there's something deeply spiritual about standing your ground. Saying this little mantra helps me remember not to get small so other people are comfortable and not to throw up my armor as a way to protect myself."


I have never been very good at standing my ground. I usually defer to sarcasm or joking if I'm challenged by someone/something. I need to have the courage to be able to speak my mind - and do so without getting upset or defensive or trying to get even (if I disagree with someone).

And here's a thought that came to me this morning: I think I'm actually afraid to be happy. I'm afraid that if I relax and enjoy myself and like something... well, I'm just setting myself up to be disappointed or have the rug pulled out from under me. This has been a life-long fear of mine, and I don't believe I have ever sensed it to this degree before. So, really, I need to cultivate the courage to be happy and like myself. That seems to be the pathway to peace and joy for me. Hmm...

Good stuff. I really like this little book.