I’m a self-help junkie. I always have been. Maybe it’s the fact that my dad is a therapist (and a darn good one). Maybe it’s because I minored in psychology. Maybe it’s because I believe I can always be improving myself in some way. Whatever the reason, I’ve always made a beeline to the self-help section upon entering any bookstore.
Since becoming a mom, my time for pleasure reading self-development books has diminished. Well, I guess that’s an excuse-filled way to say it, so instead let me say that it hasn’t been a top priority. On a recent road trip though, I discovered the girls can now both use headphones (!), which left me with a silent bliss to fill however I desired. Being new-ish to the world of podcasts, I didn’t know where to start, so I stuck with my tried and true love: audiobooks.
I remembered seeing snippets here and there about the work of Dr. Brene Brown. At one point I tried to read one of her books, but couldn’t quite get into it. However after a brief search (while filling up with gas #safetyfirst), I stumbled across her audio course, The Power of Vulnerability and decided to give it a try. Listening to the course was akin to attending a conference hearing her speak live and within the first two minutes I was hooked.
Not only is she an incredible storyteller, but she touched on subjects that are at the core of what I am passionate about: shame resilience, vulnerability as a way to facilitate genuine connection, and wholehearted living. If those topics interest you, I highly suggest you listen to the whole series because I have pages of notes I’ve scribbled down furiously as I’ve listened (currently I’m on my second time through it) and I’m only going to touch on one tiny sliver of them in this post.
Now refill your coffee because I’m about to get a little introspective and chatty…
Over the past seven years that I’ve been blogging, I’ve grown immeasurably. (I’d hope so, right?) When I started posting here I was 27, childless, and working as a health coach. Now I’m 33, happily married with two children, and a homeschooling SAHM blogger. I am grateful for where I am and confident in the choices I’ve made with my life. That’s not to say I don’t make mistakes, but in general I feel good about the direction in which I am headed. And though I have my up and down days, I’d consider myself a pretty secure person.
However, at my core, I still have people-pleasing tendencies. In fact, I am a self-proclaimed expert at fitting in. Despite how that may sound, it is not a good thing. Sometimes I automatically morph to fit what I believe people want or expect me to be. Brown touches on this in her course and explains that fitting in is actually the barrier to belonging, a crucial human need, and I couldn’t agree more.
I’ve long struggled between knowing what I believe in and owning it. I’ve learned to approach most topics in such a way to not offend anyone (America, right now, am I right?), but by doing so, I’ve realized I sometimes end up watering down my own beliefs and betraying my truths. I find this ironic because I do not get upset when other people have different ways of doing things or alternative outlooks, yet I often lack the confidence to simply show up and let myself be seen.
I’m also currently reading (OK, listening to- thanks Audible) Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Uninvited, as part of the women’s bible study I am in. It’s a Christian perspective that touches on many of the same principles, though instead of wholehearted living (Brown’s term) TerKeurst refers to that kind of quiet confidence as “living loved.” Both writers describe their concept in a beautiful way and I recommend both.
I think it’s a sign that they have overlapped in my life at the same time. With my birthday approaching next week, I always find it a good time to do a little self reflection on my personal growth and goals. For this upcoming year, I’d like to really commit myself to Brown’s personal mantra and make it my own:
Don’t puff up. Don’t shrink. Just stand your sacred ground.
I want my goal, both in writing here and in my day to day interactions, to follow these guidelines.
Don’t puff up. Meaning don’t try to be something I’m not and don’t boast to overcompensate for an insecurity by trying to make my experience or viewpoint more grandiose than it needs to be. To me it also means to not over-explain myself, as I have a tendency to do.
Don’t shrink. On the other hand, don’t submit my viewpoints or beliefs to make others feel more comfortable. I don’t need to make myself smaller to make someone else feel more OK.
Just stand your sacred ground. This is about owning the fact that I am enough and I am worthy and I am deeply loved. Not because I earned it, but because we all are worthy of these things. When I am certain of my worth in my heart, I can enter any situation already full, meaning I don’t need to beg for pieces of love and acceptance from others in the form of head pats or instagram likes.
With this mantra, my self-worth is never on the line. I might feel sad if I was not accepted or misunderstood, and I might even feel disappointed, but I won’t ever feel unworthy or shamed if my ultimate goal is to just to be true to myself, not to necessarily fit in.
I want to continue to open up more in this space without bracing myself for criticism and judgement as soon as I hit publish. I want to feel I am worthy of sharing my truths, not because I know it all (LOL), but because we all should feel comfortable owning and sharing our thoughts and ideas, discussing them, learning from each other, and growing. That’s how real connection happens. We live in a world where people can be quite harsh to each other from behind their keyboards and behind closed doors. As a result, it’s easier to withdraw in order to protect ourselves from getting shamed or hurt. But connection is vital to happiness and without it, we wither and turn to other things to try and fill that empty space.
So with this new year beginning soon for me, I want to continue to work on myself, make time to spend quiet moments in reflection, and make sure I am giving from a place of fulfillment inside myself without seeking outward approval. And I want to encourage you to do they same. We are all already enough.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Today is Hailey’s birthday (our first baby is 6!) and she’s picking the agenda for our Friday field trip today. I have a feeling it will involve ice cream 🙂 Looking at her and Kaitlyn makes me subscribe to this mantra even more, as I want nothing more than to help guide them to grow up with confidence and love in their hearts.
Is wholehearted living an easy or challenging thing for you?
Do you have a book that has inspired a positive change or self-reflection for you?