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Living In Gratitude: Vulnerability

Vulnerability is defined as “uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.” And many of us have been taught to believe that being vulnerable is a sign of weakness. To protect ourselves against the perils of vulnerability, we employ emotional armor, which guards us against shame, hurt, scarcity, fear, and anxiety.  

But in her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown explains that vulnerability is a sign of courage and serves as the “birthplace of love, belonging, and joy.”

Yes, being vulnerable is scary and yes, we’re open to being hurt, but can you imagine your life without loving or being loved?” asks Brown.

The very nature of love means opening ourselves to being vulnerable. With love comes the potential for hurt, grief, and loss. But a life without love is lonely, empty, and unfulfilling so we take the risk to love and be loved.

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Living In Gratitude: Setting Healthy Boundaries

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. ~Brené Brown

Many of us lack boundaries in all aspects of our life. We allow others to make demands on us as well as our time without our permission. Instead, we acquiesce for fear of hurting someone’s feelings, being excluded, or simply out of obligation.

This absence of personal boundaries teaches others that we can and will do what they ask of us, no matter how inconvenient. And those same people will continue to test this lack of boundaries, always pushing to see if we will go one step further, put up with one more inconvenience, take on one more project at work.

One large contributing factor to a lack of personal limits is our smartphones, tablets, and computers. There is a prevailing belief that we MUST respond instantaneously to an email, text, social media post, or phone call.  Being tethered to our devices keeps us at the mercy of others, enabling them to make demands on us anytime and anywhere.

Establishing unyielding boundaries are an indicator of our relationship with ourselves. These limiters are indicative that we value ourselves and firmly believe that we are entitled to determining what demands or requests we accept or decline. These personal restrictions shouldn’t be compromised or altered to fit different situations or relationships. Setting healthy boundaries helps reduce the drama, chaos, obligation, and stress the results from taking on other people’s problems or agreeing to participate in something that doesn’t serve us.

When we fail to set steadfast boundaries for ourselves, we openly allow others to take advantage of us.  Establishing and adhering to healthy boundaries are representative of the respect for ourselves, our values, and our time. These restrictions do not mean we care less for others but rather that we are honoring our needs and standing up for ourselves.

If you are one of the many who don’t have limitations in place or whose boundaries are much more fluid than they should be, here are five steps to defining and implementing healthy personal boundaries.

  1. Identify your core values

Determine exactly what things are important to you in all areas of your life: work, family, friends, romantic relationships, etc. This step is not about avoiding or trying to appease others but should be about you. They should focus on things that allow you to minimize stress and anxiety, allow creativity and productivity, and maintain a sense of personal satisfaction and stability. Read more

Living In Gratitude: Self-Acceptance Leads to Higher Happiness

Let go of who you think you are supposed to be and be who you are.” ~Brené Brown

Many of us are able to be kind and accepting of others but find it difficult to extend the same love to ourselves.

Numerous studies have shown that when we accept and appreciate who we are as a unique individual, our happiness quotient increases. People who practice self-compassion, who accept themselves – flaws and all – are significantly less inclined to suffer from anxiety and depression. Self-acceptance leads to reduced stress, a more optimistic outlook on life as a whole, and makes us more grounded and at peace.

Appreciating and accepting who we are as distinct, unique individuals can be tricky. After all, we are bombarded on a daily basis with images of what we should look like, about the glamorous and fulfilling lifestyles we should be living, about the amazing house we should own, the cars we should be driving, the high-powered careers we should have.

All of this perfection is unfounded and unrealistic but still, many of us buy into this ideal. We compare how we look, what we earn, what we own, and what we’ve achieved to all of those “perfect” people out there…and we fall frighteningly short.

This ingrained practice of comparing ourselves to others as well as to who society and the media tell us we should be is dangerously self-deprecating. The majority of us don’t measure up to these false set of societal ideals, causing us to believe we are “lesser than”.

Don’t lose your real self in the search for acceptance by others.” Nishan Panwar

When we stop attempting to “fit into the world” and instead, give of our unique talents and embrace the authenticity of who we are, we can nurture a healthy self-image that helps us to accept and appreciate that being “us” is perfectly okay.

So, how do we begin to be our true selves and tune out all of the external expectations and input?

It starts with an intentional practice of self-love and acceptance. Below are four mindful techniques to achieving self-compassion and appreciation.

  1. Forgive yourself

It is okay to not be perfect. No one is. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t risen up the corporate ladder fast enough (or at all), acquired that luxury home, married the perfect person, had those 2.5 children. But cultivating forgiveness of ourselves involves reframing how we think about life: what it means to be successful and disembarking from that societally-imposed, never-ending arduous journey for excellence.  We each need to decide on our own definition of personal success and discard unrealistic ideals that erode our self-worth and acceptance of self. This is the first step in forgiving.

  1. Give Yourself Permission To Be Yourself

Even author and authenticity advocate, Brené Brown, sometimes fall prey to meeting others expectations. Being true to ourselves is not a default behavior, says Brown, who admits that sometimes even she finds it easier to “just be what others want us to be” rather than forging our own path. When she feels the pull of conformity in her appearance or behavior, she will write herself a permission slip to be her true self. This could mean wearing sensible shoes when others are wearing high heels to letting your exuberance show when everyone around you is restrained. Brown keeps this slip on her person as a reminder and a source of strength to be who she is.

 

  1. Do What Is Important To You

Rather than aligning our values with other people or with what others expect from us, decide what is important to you as an individual, what resonates with you and your life. You don’t need to justify yourself or apologize for being different. It takes courage to be you. It is so much simpler (but much less rewarding) to do what everyone says we should.

  1. Celebrate Your Accomplishments

We live in an achievement-oriented society that tends to focus on the material and ignore other vital accomplishments such as happiness and mental/emotional wellbeing. By understanding and being true to our own unique values, the things that are the most important to us as an individual bubble to the top. These are the goals we should strive toward. Focus on what makes you complete. It could be exploring the world, staying home with your children, getting a degree, volunteering your time to a cause or organization, ditching that career that makes you miserable and finding something that speaks to your soul… When we work toward our goals instead of the goals of others, we are motivated, inspired, and much more likely to achieve a positive outcome. And, when we do reach a milestone, celebrate! You’ve worked hard to get where you are and it is important to raise a glass to yourself.

You are the most important person in your life.

Think about that for a minute. Yes, our significant other, children, family, and friends are important but none of us can fully give of ourselves if we don’t “put our own oxygen mask on first.

By learning to appreciate yourself, to accept and embrace your individuality, and move purposefully in the direction of your choosing, you honor your truth. This mindful harnessing of your authenticity increases your happiness, wellbeing, and makes you much more able to appreciate, love, and accept others.

There is no better way to invite more grace, gratitude, and joy into our lives than by mindfully practicing authenticity.” ~Brené Brown

May your day be filled with self-love, gratitude, and good things.

 

Living In Gratitude: Living Wholeheartedly

Living wholeheartedly happens when we engage in life from a place of  worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” It’s going to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging. ~Brené Brown

Brené Brown is considered one of the biggest ‘thought leaders‘ of the modern era. Wife, mother, author, teacher and speaker, she has done extensive research into what it means to live a wholehearted life. She has discovered that there is ‘no amount of success, money, power or influence that buys you a free ride‘ in dealing with personal vulnerability and shame. Read more

Living In Gratitude: Wholehearted Living

Wholehearted  living is about engaging in our lives from a place of  worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to  wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done  and how much is left undone, I am enough.” It’s going to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” ~Brené Brown

Brené Brown is considered one of the biggest ‘thought leaders‘ of the modern era. Wife, mother, author, teacher and speaker, she has done extensive research into what it means to live a wholehearted life. She has discovered that there is ‘no amount of success, money, power or influence that buys you a free ride‘ in dealing with personal vulnerability and shame. Read more

Living In Gratitude: Authenticity

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. ~Brene Brown

Being our authentic self doesn’t sound like it should be difficult. After all, we are who we are, right?

Yet there are numerous outside influences that impact us, many of which make us feel we have to modify who we genuinely are. By succumbing to these external pressures, we are not being true to ourselves, our gifts talents and potential. It takes practice to  be true to yourself, your values and ideals rather than bending to what others (be they friends, family, colleagues or the media) want or expect us to be.

Below are 9 steps to living an authentic life and embracing the wonderfully unique person that you are.

1. Self awareness

Acknowledge and accept everything about yourself, both the good and the not so good. This acceptance and understanding of your imperfections creates a deeper comprehension of yourself as a unique individual, bringing you closer to your values and making you more resilient. Read more