adventure · authenticity · children · equanimity · laughter · love · shame · vulnerability

Prerequisites

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I’m still wading through Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. I can only take mind-blowing awareness in small
chunks! The latest chunk being:
The important thing to know about
worthiness is that it doesn’t have prerequisites. Most of us, on the other
hand, have a long list of worthiness prerequisites [most of which] fall in the
categories of accomplishments, acquisitions, and external acceptance. It’s the if/when problem (“I’ll be worthy when…” or “I’ll be worthy
if…”)
Sound familiar?
To me it does. And yet. I have other quotes to help combat this if/when thought habit.
One of which is on my fridge, and comes from a book on
auditioning, actually: “There are no mistakes, only misinterpretations.”
Brene talks a lot about the difference between shame and
guilt. Shame = I am bad. Guilt = I did something bad. With guilt, your inherent
worth and worthiness is not called into question, and she encourages us to use
“guilt self-talk” instead of “shame self-talk,” if we have to use anything at
all.
Which, we usually do, because… we all make
misinterpretations!
It’s interesting. Yesterday, I got the chance to spend some
time with a coworker’s 10-year old daughter who was home for the summer, but
didn’t have anywhere to be this week. After way too many days watching t.v. on
her phone, I asked her if she wanted to go for a walk yesterday. And so we did.
We walked to the nearby park, and when we got to the water
and I encouraged her to touch the cool, lapping stream, she was surprised
and delighted, and asked if we could walk in it.
Well, I wasn’t expecting to do that, but SURE! Off come the
socks and shoes and into the shallows we go.
On our walk back to civilization (a whole block away), she
was reporting a story to me about something that had happened with her father
the day before. A story that would likely be categorized as one of Road Rage. As she told the story, I experienced many reactions and opinions. Aghast, sad,
worried, judgmental, superior.
But what I said was, “There are many different ways to handle
situations, and that was one way to handle it.”
I’m NOT the person to tell her her father was wrong,
inappropriate, endangering, or negligent. I am the person, in that little short
hour, to tell her, Yes, we can play in the water, and you are safe with me. I
am not going to pile my opinions onto you, because I know you’re making your
own.
You go ahead and love your dad. You observe him, and make
your own choices. You be influenced by who and how he is, and you’ll have the
chance to work through any of that if you need to.
But for right now… I didn’t even say, “That sounds scary,” because she wasn’t telling it that way. She was reporting, to see how I’d
react, I think. Was what he was doing appropriate? Wasn’t that funny or awful?
No. It was neither. It was human.
(As I write this, I realize that I can use this lesson and
aim it in a parental direction in my own life.)
It’s slow-going through Brene’s book, because there’s so
much meat to her observations and suggestions.
But her lamplight to guide us and offer hope on this journey of misinterpretations is as follows:
Those who feel lovable, who love,
and who experience belonging simply believe they are worthy of love and belonging. I often say that
Wholeheartedness is like the North Star: We never really arrive, but we
certainly know if we’re headed in the right direction.
By not attaching my own value or values to this little
girl’s experience, I get to let her have her own North Star and continue to
follow mine. No ifs, whens or buts. 

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