January 1, 2011 by Beth Hess
The Guide on my Journey of Wholehearted Living in 2011, Brene’ Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection, has set up 10 Guideposts that make up the common characteristics she found in her research of those living with their whole hearts. So I’ve decided to marinate in one each month of 2011 — studying other sources on the topic, exploring applicable scripture, and recording ways I am practicing incorporating each into my life.
Guidepost #1: Cultivating Authenticity. Which Brown also defines as “Letting Go of What People Think” – Ouch!
One of the reasons I know this Wholehearted Living message is coming to me at the right time is that I can track how many of the topics have already been on my heart and mind over the last months.
In July, I wrote this quote from another powerful book, Shrink Yourself, in my journal. “Most people struggling with their weight mention a powerful inner critic – a part of themselves that is always criticizing what they do and how they do it. This voice comes from self-doubt and it comes from not letting yourself be who you truly are.” (I bolded here, but in my journal those words are underlined 3 times!)
In November as I recorded thoughts on what I wanted to receive from some upcoming business coaching sessions, I said, among other things, “I want to feel my own enoughness.” (I never noticed how often I underline in my journal.)
So as I launch into cultivating authenticity and letting go of what people think, I am deeply aware that my most oppressive measuring stick is not, and never has been, one set up by other people (as much as I want to blame them for it.) The person I most have to start letting go of what they think … is me.
I had a chance to practice that letting go today as I tackled cleaning out my closet. Tired of not being able to find what I wanted, I pulled out every single piece of clothing and started sorting. Now one of the reasons this closet disaster has been so frustrating is that I have been struggling to find clothes in there that I really want to wear. Over the last several months I have gained about 15 pounds. (I almost wrote that I have “inexplicably gained 15 pounds,” but I am certain it’s due to poor eating choices and being a slug.) So thinking about the extra weight and dealing with clothes typically would put me in a place of calling myself all kinds of names that if I wrote them here would certainly be authentic, but not appropriate. But today, thinking about being real and how being real means not being perfect, I simply reshelved in the closet only the clothes that currently fit me, then I put others in tubs sorted seasonally and said with each piece, “I really look forward to wearing that this spring/summer/fall.”
Authenticity says it’s OK to feel disappointed with the extra pounds, but NOT to feel ashamed. It happened. I can’t change that. But I can change what I do now. Being real means forgiving myself for imperfection. One bloody goof-up at a time.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)