Daring Greatly & Self-Compassion

Well my media break proved to be quite refreshing. I did end up popping on Facebook a couple of times for important matters, but all in all did a good job of avoiding it. And I have to admit that when I signed back on yesterday I felt my anxiety meter go up a bit. So my lesson learned is that Facebook (and the blog, and twitter, etc…) have their good points. I was able to get clothes for a girl in need last week because of Facebook. I’m able to keep in touch with my Runners in Recovery because of the internet. But to pop on there to just waste time is well…just a waste of time. We all have better things to do.

But I have to tell you about a book I’m reading right now.

You must read it! Yes you! I don’t care who you are you can benefit from this book. This book hits to the core of so much of why (all of us) do what we do. It’s scary actually. But necessary.

The book is called Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. I have highlighted so much in this book I should have just highlighted the stuff I didn’t want to highlight.

See I’ve been pondering the idea of self-compassion for a few months now. It’s what I had in mind when I wrote this little apology/prayer/confession to Jesus. Jesus told us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. But I’m realizing that it’s not just something Jesus told us to do, it’s something He knows we already do. We don’t have to work at loving our neighbor as ourselves. What requires work is treating our neighbor with greater compassion than we give to ourselves. If we are (and most of us are) harsh a judgmental to ourselves then that is how we will be to our neighbor (read spouse, children, extended family, friends, stranger in the store, etc…). What I’m finding is that the harsh judgmental exterior is usually a coverup for a harsh and judgmental interior.

For example:

I hate skinny girls because I feel fat.

Or pretty girls because I feel ugly.

I hate rich people because I am swimming in debt or didn’t have rich parents. I don’t really think money is bad or makes you bad I just don’t have any and that makes me dislike you who do.

Or as Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick puts it,

“Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack, and subconsciously, beneath their touchy condescension, deeply wish they had.”

(Had to toss that quote at my friend who poo-pooed my iPhone forever before she finally bought one…and SHE LOVES IT!) Hehe…it’s my blog and I can gloat if I want to! 🙂

Which makes me think of some other words from scripture that go something like: For with the same judgment you judge others, you will be judged. (Simple Girl Version)

I think there are theological ideas here that have to do with judgement…probably…you think. But once again I think God knows what Dr. Harry said to be true (of course I’m sure God knew it first). With the same rule we judge others, we are usually the only one who knows that we are using that same rule (if not more harsh) to judge ourselves.

Because usually before and after each of those examples above our inner voice is busy telling us what we’re not good enough at or dont have enough of. It seems the only way to release from the inner critic is to lash out at our neighbor. To compare.

But according to Brene Brown, it’s not the only way out. The other option is vulerability. To lean into it. To allow who we are and what we have to be enough. And to not lie to ourselves.

Here is the real kicker – and the topic that has been bouncing around in my mind for months now: Self-compassion.

Brene’s book has made me really take a closer look at this self-compassion issue. Brene is a shame researcher. Sounds fun huh? Well it’s really interesting. She uses her 12 years of research to show us how the only vehicle out of shame is vulnerability. Ugh. Really? Is there no other way?

I understand this fear of vulnerability. Writing a blog is an exercise in vulnerability. A few weeks ago when my blog got over 3000 hits in one week (huge for me), I nearly lost it. Not in a good way. I didn’t know what I felt. But a week later after reading Brene’s book I realize it was vulnerability. I felt “naked”. I felt naked because I know that this blog is full of my opinions. It’s full of my heart. It’s full of mistakes!

But see that is the easy vulnerability.

The hard part has been realizing how I am willing to be vulnerable publically. I can show off. But I am unwilling (or a least much less willing – maybe terrified) at being relationally vulnerable. I’m realizing it in my friendships, my marriage and with my children. I see the places I hold back and hold people at arms length. I say that figuratively and literally – I’m not a hugger. But I am also seeing the walls I’ve built that I think will protect me. When in reality they isolate me.

And that is where I am…realizing it. Not much more. But this book is helping me. And I love when I can put something Jesus is working on me with and put it with something like the information in Brene’s book. Steps out. Baby steps.

Jesus is right (I bet he is so relived to hear me say that), first we must love Him. Then we must love our neighbor as ourself. But am I the only one seeing the step in between that that requires me to love myself. That I should show the compassion of Jesus to myself. Because when I don’t show it to myself I am unable to show it to others.

I’ve been told all my life that this self-love thing is crap. As if it’s secular, self-help pooey. I disagree!

What about you…
Want to see an amazing video of Brene Brown talking about shame and vulnerability? See her TED talks below.
They are worth your time. I was ordering the book before she was finished with the first talk.

First: TEDX Houston Oct. 6th 2010

Then: She talks about her vulnerability hangover from that first talk here.

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