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Self Care: Courage in the Midst of Life

I have been taking time to read books lately, which is a kind of luxury I sometimes neglect despite how nurturing reading can be for me. In a moment of extreme stress and tension, I picked up two books that are reminding me of courage, self-care, authenticity, how even flawed we are loveable and FUN. They have both had an immediate impact on me, and that is what I would like to share with you.

The first book is Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. This is one of her older books. I have only made it to page 15 because there is so much that I am contemplating already! Specifically, Brené’s book is supporting me in the midst of COVID-19 and all the uncertainty that I (many of us!) are carrying, and it is reminding me of the true importance of engaging in a robust Self-Empathy practice. Here’s what Brené says:

“I now see that owning our story and loving ourselves… is the bravest thing we will ever do.” (pg 14)

I could not agree more! Actually, taking time to notice the judgments and resentments about ourselves and others that are running through our heads and the discomfort, hurt, anger, or fear we may be feeling takes courage. It takes courage to shed light on our inner darkness.

And with that courage comes healing.

Brené Brown further says, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.” (pg 6)

I know this first hand because I spent most of my life fiercely protecting myself at all cost. I am not ashamed of this as much as I am sad about it. I clung tightly to safety as the most absolute and only important thing – even when my life was no longer in danger. And with that singular focus, I was utterly and completely lonely to the bone.

My daily Self-Empathy practice revealed to me how tightly I held onto safety at the exclusion of other needs. At some point, I was able to let in that I also valued love and connection and intimacy and fun and so many other precious needs. I moved into mourning that I had spent my life thinking either I experienced safety OR fun, intimacy, love, nurturing and so many other needs.

I no longer wanted to make the either/or choices I had strapped to my life: I wanted to experience all my needs. That was when I began the process of living in the possibility that I could live a full life that included safety, love, nurturing, intimacy, and so much more.

And then joy became a regular part of my days as my life became richer, more peaceful, and more fulfilling.

Brené Brown again: “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” (pg 6)

I found developing a daily Self-Empathy practice to be a very powerful way of experiencing this kind of transformation.

The second book I am reading is a novel that has made me laugh out loud several times and also bring me to tears. It is both delightful and heartwrenching! Her words remind me that we are all quirky in our own way. We all do things we regret. We all are flawed. We all have less to offer others when we are in stress or challenge. And we are all lovable, no matter what. The book is Pizza Girl and it is the author, Jean Kyoung Frazier’s debut book. It is especially touching to me that Ms. Frazier seems to be in her twenties!

This book is also reminding me that humor and heartfulness fit together like water and sand, peanut butter and jelly; both are necessary components for thriving!

Tags: authenticity, courage, loveable, self-care

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