Tag Archives: Brene Brown

Living Awkward

via Daily Prompt: Awkward

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A few years ago we went to Poland to visit our son Jon’s in-laws. Part of the trip was a pilgrimmage to Auschwitz and a visit to the ancient salt mine at Wieliczka, and staying in the resort town of Zakopane. At the markets in Zakopane one of the features is Oszcypek, a locally made sheep milk cheese. One of our number bought a bag of this cheese, it was quite reasonably priced I was told. The next day we set off by train for the long journey back to Warsaw. Well it was winter, the train was modern and had excellent heating – you can see where this is going – and the bag of cheese was unfortuantely near an aircon vent. Oops!

Well, sheep cheese doesn’t go gooey, when warmed it separates. And so there was initially an impercptible drip. Eventually Lyn noticed a dampness on her beanie, and looked up to be hit on the face by the dripping cheese. As the photo shows, we all began the hunt for the leak, and to move the cheese from the vent. If that weren’t awkward enough, it was just a little embarrassing that a local university student was in the same compartment witnessing this rather inept event. We did laugh, but it was awkward. That beanie took a fair bit of washing to get rid of the smell! Now we fondly remember the moment as a funny travel story, it contributed to making the trip memorable.

I have reflected on the moment and realised that it was socially embarrassing because, well, who likes to smell like sheeps cheese? And who likes to appear incompetent in storing cheese in the first place? And who copes with an audience in such circumstances? Who hasn’t been asked in class to read and not been paying attention as to which page? Who hasn’t been caught out with a maths question in class? Who hasn’t had a socially embarrassing moment as a teenager? (Perhaps a hermit) Teenagers tend to laugh to cover embarrassment, but it can turn to ridicule which derives from anger, and then it gets ugly. But then adults do that too. Who hasn’t pointed out that a friend is wearing odd socks only to be told it was intentional, and thus realizing that one’s own awkwardness drove the question in the first place?

Awkwardness is sometimes defined by our own expectations of how we look, behave and present in social settings or specific circumstances like sport or work. But it can also be coloured by what we imagine or perceive to be what is socially acceptable, and shame can be an unfortunate driving force or response. Humour is a great response, especially the ability to laugh at ourselves. And,  to have empathy. We’ve all been there, so what is the cost to us to ease the embarrassment of another? Exactly – nothing! And in that train there was no anger, there was no scapegoating, there was no fault finding. We laughed together, we were momentarily embarrassed, and then we made adjustments, even the student laughed and shared our feelings, which eased the situation.

I can’t imagine life not being awkward, things happen, and we cannot control every moment or make life perfect, we really do have to learn to live with awkward, but we can help each other in that endeavour, we can ease the shame, the pain, the embarrassment, the anger, we can make it easier for each other. There’s nothing wrong with the feeling, but we can help each other move through it.

Below is a superb TEDtalk by Brene Brown on shame, she nails it.

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

22 Comments

Filed under life, mindfulness, Trains, Travel

Conscious Authenticity

via Daily Prompt: Authentic

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Sunset at Uluru, one of my many favourite photos of the rock, taken last year. Uluru is a well known Aussie icon. Primarily it is an indigenous sacred site, but in a broader sense it is a well known visual associated with Australia as a country. For us Uluru is as authentic as it gets for an icon, along with the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. But Uluru is a natural wonder. The icons created by human endeavour are sleek, well designed and engineered, repaired and maintained. But Uluru was forged through time, weathered, beaten by the elements, sometimes shedding its skin as layers peeled off. It is old and wise and has many stories to tell, It has scars and wounds to show beneath its grandeur and striking presence.

We are a little like that. Forged through time, we grow and develop, mature. Along the way we are a little weathered, and beaten by the elements. And there are, perhaps, times when we psychologically shed our skin. We may well feel our age, but not many of us would admit to being wise – usually that is a label applied by others who experience us, and yet, in my experience,  every person carries a wisdom of their own. And we certainly have many stories to tell, especially because we have wounds and scars that are our story.

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. 
"It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, 
long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you 
become Real.'
 
"Does it hurt?" Asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes." said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 
"When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, 
"or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. 
It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people 
who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. 
Generally, by the time yo are Real, most of your hair has been loved 
off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very 
shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are 
real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. 

Margery Williams Bianco "The Velveteen Rabbit"

Unless we risk love, unless we risk vulnreability, we cannot become, we cannot be, And we cannot be real. The sort of risk I understand is expressed perfectly by the Skin Horse, that we loved and held to the point that we are both hurt and yet whole. But in the main it is our scars and wounds that really make us. They don’t define us, they help make us, help us to become, help us to grow and be authentic.

To be authentic isn’t to be a thing, to be some predetermined you, to be ‘someone’. Authenticity doesn’t come down from the heavens, it isn’t randomly assigned to you. To be authentic is to simply be the you you already are. But you can’t be that person unless you risk the scars and wounds of living, it is a slow thing, it takes a long time, but it is to have lived and to have been real.

As Brene Brown has said: “Authenticity is not something we have or don’t have. It’s a practice – a conscious choice of how we want to live. Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

I really like that, “Life is a collection of choices.”  and, that it is “a practice, a conscious choice.” Authenticity is something we can do.

Paul,

pvcann.com

39 Comments

Filed under bush walking, Country, life, mindfulness, psychology, quote, self-development, Uluru 17

Sympathize or Empathize?

via Daily Prompt: Sympathize

 

Brene Brown has been a sensation because of her research into shame and guilt, vulnernability, and empathy, and the new outcomes including herown self reflection. Her TED talk (all her talks are, in my view) is a wonderful learning experience –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psN1DORYYV0&t=17s

Nothing wrong with sympathy but Einfuhlung, or feeling into, known as empathy, is much stronger and far more supportive. Sympathy is – I care about your suffering. Empathy is – I feel your suffering.

Empathy therefore relies on friendship, close, intimate friendship, or community. Empathy cannot work where you are detached, or distant from a person, it is the ability to feel for the other person as if you are them, or you are in their very situation. Sympathy does work in abstraction, you can feel sad for someone but yet not share their perspective. In his novel “The Forgotten Village” John Steinbeck says: “It means very little to know that a million Chinese are starving unless you know one Chinese who is starving.” (from: “The Grapes of Wrath, a Literary Journal, Gerald Haslam, p.2) Steinbeck makes a great point.

I don’t mind a bit of sympathy, but in the end, I really value the depth of empathy. so, if you’re coming my way, empathise.

Paul,

pvcann.com

25 Comments

Filed under life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development