Day 2, November Gratitude Not-So-Short
I commit to November Gratitude Shorts to practice daily writing and thanksgiving. Thank you for stopping by!
Today I give thanks for Convergence Experiences.
Last week I started listening to Brené Brown’s new book, Rising Strong. If you have not already read or listened, I highly recommend it. Early in the book she describes a conflict with her husband in which she openly acknowledges the story she tells herself about the origins of his behavior toward her. Turns out it’s completely wrong, and the point is that by owning her own story, she invites him to tell his, and they can then communicate in love and the pursuit of mutual understanding. I felt proud that this practice of recognizing and owning the stories I tell myself about others was one of the first things I learned in coaching years ago. Then, days ago, my friend Donna Cameron published her post “Oh, The Stories We Tell!” on her blog, A Year of Living Kindly. Bam, validated again!
Later in the book, Brown talks about why so many people fear ‘reckoning and rumbling’ with our feelings and emotional experiences. Feelings, especially negative ones, can be overwhelmingly uncomfortable, and thus intolerable. So rather than engage with them, we repress or ‘offload’ them—bury them or project them onto others, often those closest to us. I think she makes an analogy to going down a rabbit hole, and I know exactly how that feels. I have spent the last two years spelunking in my deep emotional life (aka the Sh*tpile), and it scared the sh*t out of me at first. And, it gets easier the more I do it. Another endorsement, thank you, Dr. Brown!
Still later, she tells another story of her own experience reconciling other people’s wretched behavior. “Are people really doing their best all the time?” she asks. Before hearing this I had just commented on another blog that we are all here doing our best, and if we could only see one another this way, even if only part of the time, things would be a lot better. In her research, Brown has learned that those who choose to assume we are all doing our best tend to be the ones who, in her view, ‘live wholeheartedly.’ They exhibit more self- and thus other-acceptance, they sit more comfortably with vulnerability, and they judge themselves and others more gently than those who think we definitely do not try our best all the time.
Now I’m starting to feel a bit smug, thinking something like, “I got this. I’m a wholehearted, reckoning and rumbling, uber-intelligent emotional Rock Star.” –Or at least a star student. And I’m reminded of when I read her last book, Daring Greatly. I got through the whole thing feeling and thinking something similar. I have since learned that understanding a concept in one’s mind, such as that vulnerability is not weakness, and that in order to truly reach our potential we must be willing to risk failure and embarrassment, does not mean that one lives that understanding in a real emotional life. True integration comes, like mindfulness, through continuous seeking, struggle, and a whole lot of grace.
At this point, I can both acknowledge the emotional progress I have made, and also check my pride. There will always be lessons to learn and practice, and I know that whenever I start to think, “I got this,” I need to look in my blind spots, because something is bound to show up there, sooner or later.
Convergence Experiences validate, encourage, and inspire me. They reassure me that I am on the right path, toward greater understanding, empathy, compassion and love, not just for others, but for myself. They also remind me that only the journey matters; there is no destination other than how I choose to live today. That’s a lot to be thankful for.