I received a wonderful book for Christmas this year. It is called Braving the Wilderness - The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW . I really can't rave about this book enough. I know that many of us struggle to find that true place in our lives where we fully and authentically belong. Well, Ms. Brown suggests that it exists on the other side of vulnerability.
Our culture has a very hard time with that word as do I quite often. It is generally seen as a sign of weakness or "losing face" in front of others. She offers many examples of why that isn't the case, but I would like to focus on the one that I found the most profound.... there is NO lasting joy without vulnerability. This is an amazing statement on its face, especially how we normally view these two emotions as opposites.
Her argument is that in order for you to find the-deep-in-your-heart kind of joy we crave, you must be willing to be vulnerable and step into this authentic space. When you take the time to check into your heart and see what is your truest self, then you will need the resolve to dive into this truth if you want this embodied joy. You will need to breakdown some the your thoughts that you use to block yourself. It might mean that you have to speak up in a group when you feel a violation of your (or of the communal) truth is taking place. You will also need to intentionally be with people who are different that you and challenge you and help you expand your mindset.
I know that this sounds scary. It definitely does to me! However, when we begin to breakdown walls around ourselves and honestly listen to others while having healthy boundaries and clear intentions, then we can change the world and JOY is the result.
Here is an example of this in practice from my life recently. I was walking in downtown Vancouver when a man started yelling at me for no apparent reason. He seemed to be in distress with his life and I was the closest person. There was a lot of energy in his voice and body. He used a lot of profanity and very direct language. First thing I did was make sure that I was a safe distance away and then I decided to actively listened to him. I choice not to elevate my voice and I even maintain a small smile. I consciously choice to not add to the anger energy. In fact, I stopped and asked him in a reassuring voice to tell me more. This noticeably calmed him down and he realized I was no threat (and vise versa). He was just upset at the world-at-large. After about 5-7 minutes, I wished him well and continued my walk. That moment of vulnerability to engage, in what could have been a violent situation and was turned around, gave me such a sense of joy. I felt like I was able to be available for another brother on my journey.
Now, I am not suggesting that we all need to do this, but I would like to challenge you during 2018 to make an effort to engage with an open heart and a compassionate disposition with people, situations and/or yourself. Let's all move consciously in the direction of our most authentic self and shift the world with less anguish and more joy. Vulnerability is our way out (and in)!