I finally finished the book this week! It was kinda fun doing a book series blog post, and it was most definitely challenging. I’m really glad I did it, and I learned a lot from it. That being said, let’s get started on the last chapter.
I’m not a parent, yet. I hope to someday be, and I hope to model what Brown talks about in this chapter. Despite not being a parent, I think there’s a lot to be learned in this chapter. In a certain light, we “parent” each other at different points in our lives. And parenting is really just loving someone, teaching them values, and holding them accountable to those values.
Vulnerability lies at the center of the family story. It defines our moments of greatest joy, fear, sorrow, shame, disappointment, love, belonging, gratitude, creativity, and everyday wonder.
In reality, vulnerability lies at the center of our life’s story. When we are able to be vulnerable, we are able to more fully experience life and the messy bits that come with a life well-lived and well-loved.
In a world of never enough and perfectionism, we’re really good at giving prerequisites. I’ll be enough when…, I’ll be worthy when…
I graduate college
I get my dream job
I get married
I lose 20 lbs
I become a mom
I buy a house
The list could go on for days.
Hear me. Right here. Right now. Drink in these words.
You are enough as you are right now. You worthy just as you are.
I’ve fallen for these lies. I believed for so long that nobody would love me until I lost weight. I believed my life didn’t serve a purpose because I am not married and I do not have kids. I believed I was of lesser value, and I carried myself as such.
Over the last month, I have taken a lot of time for self-reflection, and I can see how much I grew over the last year. When I look at the past year what I see first is me starting to take care of myself. I started exercising on a regular basis again, and it is exercise I enjoy. I cleaned up my diet. Honestly, I was trying to save money by not eating out as much. I started cooking more; therefore, eating healthier and later found myself craving those healthier food choices. As I made these choices to better care for myself, I started to love myself more. I started making more decisions for myself. And slowly, I became more confident in who I am as a person. I became more founded in what I believe and how I want to live my life. I started to see myself as valuable and worthy.
But it was a process.
It is in loving ourselves that we will teach our children to love and care for themselves. It is in recognizing and valuing our own worth that kids learn to value their own worth.
I’ve recently been struck by how much kids absorb. Whether it’s my friend’s kids or kids I see in the hospital, they do the things their parents do. They are watching you, observing you, learning from you. Wholehearted parenting is wholehearted living.
I want to jump back to when I mentioned perfectionism and a culture of never enough. I love the way Brown defines perfectionism and I want to share that with you.
Perfectionism is not teaching them how to strive for excellence or be their best selves. Perfectionism is teaching them to value what other people think over what they think or how they feel. It’s teaching them to perform, please, and prove.
This is the opposite of what we want to do. This is the opposite of what we want to model. But it’s something most of us are working through as it is. I know I am working on letting go of perfectionism. I really like to please people, I want them to be pleased with me and feel like they are proud of me. I lived a life of people pleasing for so long that I had to work to rediscover who I actually am. I also feel a need to prove myself to people, to show them that I am enough. Part of the “enough” part comes from my history and emotionally abusive relationships. But that’s a story for another day, maybe.
How do we combat this perfectionism and never enough culture?
We mind the gap by having an awareness of our innate human desire for belonging to something larger than ourselves. We need to let the people in our lives know they belong. Let your kids know they belong in this family. Let your friends know they belong with you.
We all want to know we matter, and we all want to feel we belong. When we are feeling unwanted or like we don’t belong, compassion is the antidote.
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity. -Pema Chodron
Let’s share space with the people we love, and show compassion. Life is the messy bits. And we can’t get through it alone.
The last piece I want to talk about is hope. Hope is a bit of a passion of mine. In high school, after that emotionally abusive boyfriend I mentioned broke up with me I was in a really dark place. After several months I met with a priest at my church and he told me, after listening to all I had to say, that I was lacking hope. Ever since then I have had a slight obsession with hope. I’ve done plenty of research on it. I’ve written about it, prayed about it, defined, and strive to live it.
Brown mentions hope at the end of this book, and what she says hits home.
Hope isn’t an emotion, it’s a way of thinking, a cognitive process. Hope is a process. It is being able to set a goal, persevere through the challenges (and getting up again after falling down), and believing in yourself and your abilities.
Show up, get wet, be brave. The most courageous thing we can do is show up even when we’re afraid we’re going to fall on our face. You may surprise yourself. Or you may have to learn to get back up but we learn from those moments of getting back up. That’s where hope is built.
Here’s to living a life of courageous vulnerability and hope!
I can’t wait to see what’s to come next for this blog! Happy Hump day friends!