But did you realize that that many of the assumptions we hold so dear; you know, the ones we believe will help us turn things around are, in reality, just "plain wrong." So says Dr. Brené Brown, noted author and research professor at the University of Houston. Dr. Brown has spent the last 12 years trying to figure out what keeps us from living a life, despite our best efforts, that is fully involved. She found four flaws in our thinking that, if we alter them, can help us live better, happier, more fulfilled lives.
1. Fitting in doesn't mean belonging. Ms. Brown believes that "fitting in" is actually a barrier to belonging. Fitting in means finding a person or group that we admire and twisting ourselves "like human pretzels" so that they like us and ask us to hang out with them. Belonging is something else entirely. Belonging means showing up and letting yourself be seen and loved for who you truly are, no matter "warts" you think you have. You let them all hang out instead of tucking them away out of sight and are still accepted, even appreciated and loved, despite them; and maybe even because of them! That is true belonging. The truth is, belonging starts with self-acceptance. Ms. Brown thinks that our level of belonging can never be and greater than our own level of self-acceptance.
2. Guilt is not bad for you. Ms. Brown says that guilt can actually be good for us. It can help keep us on track because it deals with our behavior. The discomfort we feel with guilt is a good motivator to make necessary changes. It can lead to self-reflection which is also good. Looking inwards is very helpful when it comes to making changes in, not only ourselves, but in our behaviors/attitudes, as well. Guilt should never be confused with shame. Shame tells us that we are bad, not that we did something that was bad or incorrect. Shame is never good.
3. Perfectionism is not about striving for excellence. Perfectionism is not about achievement or grown. It's believing that if we live perfectly, look perfectly, and act perfectly "we can avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame." Perfectionists have adopted the believe that they are their accomplishments and how well they accomplished them. They are nothing else. Meanwhile, healthy striving is all about focusing on you and improvement you can make. It occurs when you ask yourself, "How can I improve?" (Not how can I be perfect since perfect doesn't really exist except in our heads.) Perfectionism focuses on others while improvement/striving focuses on the individual. Consider this thought from the late Leonard Cohen, wizard of lyrics. In his beautiful song Anthem, he says, "There's a crack in everything. That's how the light get in." Perfectionism isn't all it's 'cracked" up to be....
4. Vulnerability IS an act of courage. Vulnerability is not weakness. And it's not optional. Vulnerability is an accurate measure of our individual courage. Whether or not we're aware of it, we all "do" vulnerability every day. "The only choice you have is how you handle those feelings of being terrifyingly, painfully exposed. maybe you turn them into rage; maybe you turn them into disconnection; maybe you turn them into perfectionism. But you do something with them them." Dr. Brown offers us this bit of advice, saying that, "The key to transforming them into courage instead is learning how to recognize them, feel them and ultimately make the choice to simply be there, with that horrible tangle of uncertainty and risk."
When you know what you're feeling, and why, you can slow down, breathe, and ask for support. Then, you/me/we can make choices that reflect who we are and what we believe.
These are some of the best Life lessons I've ever received, at least from a human! I hope that you will find them helpful, too, in making the kinds of changes best for you...so that your life can be as awesome as it's meant to be!