As a person who thrives when they have a routine, I tend to have trouble taking a step back to fully acknowledge when I am stuck in a rut or not challenging myself or not making time to do the things that bring me joy. Falling into a rut is something I have talked about on my blog before. The advice I gave may still be relevant today, but becoming unstuck has become a more evolved process for me; over the years, I think we all have a tendency to get overwhelmed with the idea of adulting and we go into survival mode and start to distance ourselves from creating time for the things we love the most and the things create happiness in our lives.
Brene Brown has come to my rescue. I didn’t know that I needed Brene in my life, but now that I have her I don’t think I could go back to the way I used to view relationships, human emotions and human connection.
Unlike my previous post that was a quick checklist of surface level suggestions to get your butt into gear, I found listening to Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, inspired me in a way that was unique to my situation. Reading the book, I think each person would pull different examples that apply to them and their own way of integrated what they learned into their own life. The thoughts that I gathered from Brene has changed the way I want to spend my time, what I value and how I want to communicate with the people around me.
So lets get right into it, Brene Brown, a research professor and an expert in shame and vulnerability shares her findings on how to live a courageous life.
Best of Brene
We Need to Talk About Shame
Before Brene Brown, shame had never crossed my mind, but after listening to her explanation around shame, I feel almost dumbfounded that I didn’t register it. Shame is something we all deal with in our everyday lives and it is important to acknowledge shame, assess our expectations and reach out to the people around us to help us work through it.
As women, we often feel pressure to be able to juggle housework and a career, while looking like supermodels in the best shape of our lives. Men, on the other hand, may feel the pressure to provide for their families or avoid emotions in order to maintain a “masculine persona”. We all have stories we tell ourselves and it is important to share these stories with your loved ones, so they understand our insecurities and they can help us work through them.
You Can’t Choose Which Emotions to Numb
Brown talks a lot about being numb, she compares it to addiction. She states that we all have our own way of numbing our emotions, it can be food, it can be spending hours watching mindless TV, or it can be wine to take the edge off. The thing about being numb is that you can’t choose the emotions to numb, if you are numb to pain, you are numb to joy as well. In order to experience any of your emotions, you must be vulnerable and deal with all of them. Instead of trying to escape tough emotions, it is important to feel them and move through them.
Disengaging from Your Relationships is the Ultimate Form of Betrayal
Brene Brown talks about disengagement being the ultimate form of betrayal. I am guilty of this, I often avoid engaging so I can avoid conflict. I didn’t realize that taking the moments to deal with issues head-on and being vulnerable and open is the best way to clear the air and strengthen your relationships, romantic and otherwise.
Build Up Trusting Relationships
I have always struggled with having surface level conversations; I will talk about literally anything, I am a terrible liar, and my life is basically an open book to anyone that asks. I identified it as a way of being genuine but after listening to Brown’s book, I think it could also be viewed as a way of disconnecting with people by making them feel uncomfortable.
Brown mentions that sometimes we overshare to create a human connection that is not there. Instead of aimlessly oversharing, we need to slowly invite people into our lives that deserve to be there. We need to build up the relationships we have with the people we trust and stop feeding the artificial relationships with the people we don’t trust.
She also reinforces the needs we have as humans for companionship, encouragement and support. We are not meant to survive life on our own. It is imperative to surround ourselves with people who will call us out on our shortcomings, rally with us when we need them in our corner and be there as a shoulder to cry on when we go through tough times. Brown says each person needs two or three people like this in their life that they can rely on.
Embrace Hard Topics and Failures
Sometimes the easy option or the option that feels “right” at the time may not be the right path. Brown stresses the importance of dealing with hard topics head on because these are the ones that will set us free.
She encourages everyone to be ready to fail. Although, this seems very similar to the cliche quote by Wayne Gretzky “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”, it is a great reminder. If we are hoping for greatness, we can’t do this by always taking the safe route.
Perfectionism Does Not Equal Happiness
As someone whose self-talk usually revolves around the to-do list that I did not complete and the dealing with all the issues that being behind has caused me. I can’t do everything, although I continue to try. Brown states that joy, success and wholeheartedness has never been cultivated through being perfect. Letting go of perfection is the first step to having a compassionate full life.
People Who Set Boundaries Value Their Lives
In our society and I think we get caught up in being the hardest working. We aspire to be the person who is the first to show up at work, the last to leave, and always willing to put up their hand and volunteer. Forgoing this social norm and setting boundaries so that we can make room for relationships, me-time and passion projects is an important part of having a balanced life. We all need to have outlets so we continue to grow, evolve and recharge.
A Healthy Organization Cannot be Shame Ruling
This chapter had me shook because I think everyone can identify with being in an environment that is led by shame. Brown mentions that organizations have a tendency to publicly reprimand employees, belittle employees when they don’t meet KPIs and create a toxic environment full of gossip. Not only does she stress the importance of creating an environment that leaves room for employees to fail, but she also suggests that employees need feedback just as much as they need recognition. Creating this safe work environment is the best way to foster innovation.
Feedback is also very important, it creates an opportunity for growth and engagement. Brown offers a guide on her website to successfully give engaged feedback. As someone who has had performance evaluations that mostly consist of recognition for a few key contributions, I know I never leave with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Most of the time I feel like my superior has no idea what my strengths are or what my areas of opportunity would be.
What Does This Have to Do With Being Unstuck?
I get caught up in the day-to-day, I feel like I am on a treadmill that doesn’t appear to be slowing down, and then I go to bed running through the list of everything I needed to get done that day, that I am going to have to push to tomorrow. I refuse to believe that I am alone in this, especially because I didn’t read this book, I downloaded the audiobook so I could multitask and listen to it on my daily commute, while I was making dinner, and before I fall to sleep; this book really made me take a step back and think about what I am working towards.
If I hate my job, am I really successful? Probably not. If my partner and I never fight does that mean I have a healthy relationship? Not at all. If I always make a pro and con list before making any big life decisions does that guarantee that I won’t fail? Never, the possibility is always there. Brown awakened my emotions, and my need to feel them to the full extent, “leaning into them” and dealing with discomfort is the only way to be “unstuck.”