Wholehearted living

As I’ve shared on a previous post, I’m currently reading Brené Brown’s book Rising Strong and want to spend a few minutes considering one of the ideas that she shares and has stayed with me since I read it:

“I think many of us move through this world feeling [fractured, disjointed, disowned, detached, unraveled or separate]. The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or acceptable, but our wholeness – even our wholeheartedness – actually depends on the integration of all our experiences, including the falls.”

Geez, she’s a wise lady. I truly believe what she’s written – it’s in owning our whole story, not just our perfect moments – that we can live wholehearted lives. Where we know we’re enough, truly worthy of love and belonging just as we are.

What I’m struggling to integrate is that I feel so damn much in life and have so many moments of imperfection due to the fact that I’m so self-aware and sensitive. If I show myself, if I integrate all my experiences, I’ll be a hot mess most of the time. I’ll show how little I have my shit together and that feels scary, vulnerable and raw.

To be honest, it sometimes feels like I’m living the following equation:

I have heightened emotions + the world says displaying deep emotons is unacceptable = I’m unacceptable

I’m not saying this in a ‘poor me’ way. Part of me thinks ‘fuck the world, this is who I am’ but another part of me asks how I can be me and feel fully seen when the person who I am feels sometimes so unacceptable. And so, if I’m honest with you, dear friend, I often temper who I am to be more acceptable. Not becoming someone different but leaving the details of my life out from face-to-face interactions.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always feel unaccepted but at this moment, reading Brené’s words, I’m left pondering how I can integrate my deep emotionality in a world that appears so ill at ease with feelings.

I suppose part of the solution is continuing to do what works for me:

  • Spending time with close friends who make space for and accept my feelings.
  • Leaning into the amazing work I’ve been privileged to be part of in my organisation, which is all about being real and authentic leaders, bringing our true selves to the workplace.
  • Continuing to be coached so I can better learn how to accept myself and integrate my feelings, experiences and emotions into my life.

And perhaps it’s like the approach I’m taking to my maternity leave – sharing it 50:50 with my husband so we both take 6 months off to care for our baby. We’re doing this because it’s right for us as a couple but also because unless people lead the way in sharing the full child rearing responsibilities, things will never change and it will always be the women’s role*.

Unless I show up wholehearted, sharing my whole stories and experiences in life, things will never change. I can take steps to be wholeheartedly me because it’s the right thing to do but also because I long to lead the way to a world where it is acceptable to be messily, imperfectly, beautifully human. To be our true, wholehearted selves.

And the idea of this being a reality in my life, a reality in the world, is so worthwhile. It makes me feel so excited to think of a world where the following is true:

We are all accepted as being unique and having differing levels of emotions + we know we are enough exactly as we are = we all experience deep feelings of acceptance, belonging and joy

With this in mind, I’m willing to dive into the world of wholeheartedness. I’m willing to see where it takes me to not just to find my way in this world but to create a world I long to live in.

*I know this is a generalisation and wanted to salute all the couples I know who share the childcare and all the men who have taken a step back in their careers to look after their children. But for the most part, it’s women who do most of the childcare and take on larger caretaking responsibilities around the house and unless we change things, it will always be this way.


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