I have read almost all of Brene Brown’s books. Her most recent one - Braving the Wilderness- is in my pile of “Must Reads” that I will get to next week when I am on vacation.
If you don’t know who Brene Brown is - stop right now and google her Ted Talk on being Vulnerable, nothing I say to describe her will ever be as good as seeing her speak yourself. She has a way of simplifying everything and making it so easy to understand that you wonder why you never put the dots together yourself before. So when I found out, I could see her live, and in person, at a conference, I bought my ticket right away and eagerly awaited the brilliance she was going to bestow on me.
Many months later the wait was over. I flew all the way to Nashville Tennessee to partake in a conference for a Direct Sales Company I dabble with on the side (AHEM COUGH - feed my accessories addiction with- AHEM COUGH) with my Mom. To be brutally honest we didn’t partake in any other part of the conference except for General Session and of course Brene - there were too many Boot shops to visit.
Sunday morning came, and we were ready. She walked on stage, and her casual, down-home, no-nonsense rapport instantly filled the room. She opened with some of the same themes I have heard her discuss in the past - being vulnerable, opening your heart, taking off your armor and letting go of shame- topics I was well versed in and that I work on with a lot of my clients. I’m sure I had a silly grin on my face the whole time, nodding away in agreement with every word that came out of her mouth.
However, what felt new and what spoke to my heart the most was the quote by Theodore Roosevelt that inspired her first novel ‘Daring Greatly’ -
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,”...
Brene reading this quote out loud was the moment the first tear, and a lump in my throat threatened to start the waterworks.
The reason this quote spoke to my heart that day is because I had just recently received my first Troll on my Instagram account. I knew criticism was inevitable because once we stop living small and we start taking up the space we deserve and begin radically loving ourselves and challenging the status quo - other people get uncomfortable! Since discomfort is not usually something that people like to feel it sometimes (too often in the anonymity of the internet) comes with lashing out, Trolling, and abuse. I wasn’t sure how I was going to react when the day finally arrived, but I did try to create a repertoire of things I could say when it finally happened. Well it happened, and anything I had prepared had vanished from my mind, and all that was left was hurt and sting. The hurt and sting brought up all my insecurities- all the things that kept me living smaller most of my life and I momentarily wondered if what I was doing was worth it. So when Brene shared her personal experience with haters and trolls- my heartstrings were raw and I was suddenly more vulnerable than I had anticipated I was going to be in this Key Note - this is about the time the wonderful woman sitting beside me asked if I wanted a tissue.
Brene then had us do an exercise where we stood up and gave our most “Don’t Mess with Me” body language and face. Picture right now that you have been waiting in line for an hour and you are next- then someone steps right in front of you - Ya, that face, and stance. Then she told us that what we were doing right then was our ARMOUR, what we use to try and protect ourselves from hurt and rejection and pain.
BUT, the reality is that no matter how much we prepare or try to protect ourselves from the pain when it happens it is never LESSENED because we prepared or tried to anticipate it. The ironic truth is that to experience all the Joy and love and awesomeness you want in life we have to open our hearts to let it in, which you can’t do if you are always wearing your armour.
LIGHT BULB, MIND BLOWN, FIREWORKS - all the neural connections firing at once.
To live Bigger and lead a happy fulfilling joyous life you have to stand up and open yourself up to life, which you guessed it - leaves your heart open to all the lows, pain, sadness and hurt too. So, what was Brene’s point and how did she suggest we deal with this lack of filter going forward? Because let me tell you - I DO NOT want to open myself up to all the haters out there!
Well, awesomely that was her suggestion - Don’t waste your time listening to and caring about what people outside of your inner circle think. She shared this example: Imagine getting ready to go to the Mall, and you’re trying to get your outfit right, then your husband says to you “You look great,” and you give him a snarky face and respond with “I don’t care what you think, I care about what people at the mall are going to think. I want them to see me and my outfit and give me the ‘Nice outfit’ wink and nod of approval”.
And, isn’t that what so much of us spend so much time doing - putting our worth in what people who don’t even matter to us think? We make way too many decisions in life based on what others will think - most of whom we don’t even really know!
BUT, if we are going to open our hearts and be vulnerable and authentic, we are going to have to learn how to shut out the voices that don’t matter. Sadly they are always the loudest.
I think I blamed my tears on an A/C vent that was directly above my head - seriously it was going full force - but in reality, a few of them were because even after all the work I have done to find my voice and feel comfortable using it, I also still need reminding that my PEEPS - and you know who you are (kiss) are the only voices that really matter. Using my voice means that people are going to hear it and not everyone is going to like what they hear - and that’s OK because NOT using my voice would be so much worse.