“The Wholehearted journey is not the path of least resistance. It’s a path of consciousness and choice. And, to be honest, it’s a little counterculture. The willingness to tell our stories, feel the pain of others, and stay genuinely connected in this disconnected world is not something we can do halfheartedly.” — Dr. Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, page 21
I am an old pro at “the path of least resistance.” Kids who are abused statistically do one of two things: (1) act out (i.e. fight, get pregnant, runaway, etc.) or (2) fly under the radar (i.e. get good grades, overachieve, and stuff stuff STUFF their feelings). I was far too terrified of both God and my parents to do #1…so I became excellent at #2.
I became so good at it that I was practically invisible. Inside I’ve always been this bubbling cauldron of spirit, angst, fear, creativity, excitement, intuition, and courage. But I could stuff that shit down better than anyone I know and show up with a smile, a joke, and an answer to how we would solve the next school, team, or business problem. “I’ll do it” is practically synonymous with my name. Meanwhile, each ridiculously boring assignment, paper, or project I’ve taken on has chipped away at my soul…bit by bit…until the only thing I could live for was a compliment or a scrap of encouragement from the table of whomever I’d made important that day/week/year.
By comparison, it’s not been a bad life. My bills get paid. I have a nice circle of people around me who like me and who I like in return. I am often respected in my social, spiritual, and professional circles. There is something to be said for being someone who can grasp complex problems and go to work fixing them for others. And there is more to be said for the sense of satisfaction I’ve felt over the years when I’ve untangled some big problem at work or church. I honestly can’t complain about how the “path of least resistance” has worked out for me.
Except I hear that “Comparison in the theif of happiness” (Dr. Brene Brown)…so now what?
The three assignments for Week 1 of this course have really made me think…long and hard…about “the path” I’ve been on and what I want for the next 37 years.
Assignment 1–Permission Slips
This assignment was really hard for me. I knew I wanted to do it justice and I knew that it would be important to post what I wrote…not because it’s anyone’s business but because I’ve learned that I need to share the things that most need to be put into the light for healing. Each of the things I wrote are deeply embedded areas of shame for me. Giving myself permission and posting it on social media (and now here on my blog), causes a physical response. I literally feel some of the ropes constricting my heart loosen up…giving me just a little more breathing space to dwell in.
Assignment 2–Perfection Pledge
Ahhhhh…the perfection pledge. I wrote the words “I’m imperfect and I’m enough” in black sharpie on my left hand before I left the house on Tuesday. I had to laugh at the number of people trying to read my hand as I led a discussion, ran a meeting, or just plain talked. I often gesture wildly when speaking and a hand with sharpie written on it is very distracting to whatever audience is being held in my thrall. But each and every time I caught a glimpse of it, something relaxed deep in my cerebral cortex. All those little squiggles of brain matter shifted and said “Ahhhh…there it is. There is the knowledge that all true intuitives know. She is neither perfect nor a problem. She is enough.”
Assignment 3–Heart Word
Dr. Brene says that Courage is a heart word. And she is so very right. Just this week I had to find the courage to tell a friend that I really really want something to work out. Something that I haven’t wanted to admit for fear of the shame or sadness or heartache when it doesn’t. But I sent my dear friend a text, told her the situation, then waited to hear her response. She told me my desire was a good one, a risky one, and that I was brave. Then I took a deep breath and remembered what it means to have friends who let you be you, love the best AND worst of you, and stand with you through it all. My picture has 6 names written in the heart…2 men, 4 women, 1 I met in church, 4 I met in the workplace, 6 older than me (though it’s impossible to tell!) 1 former boss, 1 gay, 2 single, 5 divorced, 3 mothers, 1 retired and old enough to be my mother, 1 foreign born, 3 in New Mexico, 1 on the east coast, and not a curly headed one in the bunch! But more important than ANY of those facts, all 6 are trustworthy, lovely, beautiful souls who make my heart, mind, spirit, and body feel safe, secure, and just plan relaxed with. I’m so so so blessed and grateful.
BLESSINGS TO THOSE ON THE JOURNEY…or on any journey!