I’m going to start this piece by saying that it takes a LOT for me to feel inspired. I’ve been blogging for almost a decade and have quite literally seen it all. Backstabbing and unpleasant behaviour, climbing and trampling. Scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Saying one thing to faces and another behind closed doors. Truth be told, I doubt many of us are fully exempt from gossiping, which is so easy to get swept up in, but leaves everyone involved feeling awful. Couple this with being bombarded with posts marked #inspo and it’s all led to inspiration fatigue taking hold.
But here’s the thing: I am desperate to be a positive force for those around me. I’d like nothing more than to be able to think the best of people and give them the benefit of the doubt, by default. Growing up in a dysfunctional, toxic environment and living in chaos for the first twenty-odd years of my life, this stuff does not come naturally to me. If I walk into a negative situation, it can take a hell of a lot for me to get out of that headspace. My husband and I have done years of self-improvement work and we’re in a better place than ever before. Outside of the family unit, I’m probably more cynical of people than I used to be. Which isn’t nice to admit.
Enter the lady who is changing my perspective
Russell Brand has long been a hero of mine, talking sense in a language I fully understand, especially since getting a handle on sobriety. Having listened to a handful of his brilliant Under the Skin podcasts I happened upon the show he did with Brené Brown.
The podcast got me thinking in a way that hasn’t for a very long time. Being a serial faller-down-of-rabbit-holes, this naturally led to me finding out everything I could about Brené. I watched her TED Talks on vulnerability and shame, tuned in to other podcasts and shows she’s featured on and downloaded samples of all her books to my Kindle app. Even how Brené met her husband, Steve, and her doubts early in their marriage got me. Being told by a counsellor: “he likes you way more than you like you” rings bells, because my own counsellor once told me something very similar.
Back to the books. Daring Greatly resonated with me strongest and I wolfed the whole thing down in less than a week. Reading it took me back to my very first counselling sessions in 2002. Brené has a way of explaining things I already know, but making me think about them differently. She sparks thoughts inside my head of how I can improve and grow as a person. Not just a tiny bit, but exponentially. This is a far cry from the usual BS and jargon we’ve become so accustomed to, via social media.
Daring Greatly was like rubbing a soothing balm on my inspiration fatigued, weary soul
Perhaps my biggest takeaway is this. What I used to view as mental breakdown, depression and despair, I now see as my healing process. Stepping stones so I can become the person I have always wanted to be. During my decade as a mum, I’ve done what I considered was my best at the time, but if I put my hand upon my heart, I know that I’m now capable of doing so much better.
This isn’t about perfectionism or beating myself to a pulp for the past, it’s about taking responsibility for writing a future that my family deserve. Owning my part in the not so amazing bits and fully learning the lessons, so the same mistakes are not repeatedly made. Some might see this as too tall an order with autistic kids, but I think it’s even more important because of that and I’m ready the embrace the challenge.
Never has it felt more pertinent to OWN our stories (no matter how dark they might be)
Never the easy option
I don’t actually think I realised at the time, but writing Become the Best You was me truly owning my story. My past is dark, by most folks standards. A not so great childhood which included sexual abuse, leaving home at fifteen, crappy jobs, predators, eventual family enragement. There was a lot of deep digging during my big breakdown/spiritual awakening to fully own it. Making peace with my past so it didn’t destroy my future was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
But you know what would have been harder? Spending a lifetime becoming bitter and twisted because of it. Inflicting my invisible wounds on my own children. Being unaware of how toxic my parenting was because that was all I ever knew. Facing my childhood demons before starting a family was the most sensible decision I have ever made.
Since that cold Reykjavik morning in November 2006, I’ve been on the path of self-awareness, not self-destruction. And now, almost thirteen years later, I’m ready for my next chapter to begin. I will not allow my inspiration fatigued, weariness to take hold and keep me small any longer.
Are You Ready to be Brave?
There are several types of people who will read this piece. Those who are already tuned into Brené Brown and are using her wise words to enhance their lives. High fives to you. Then there are those who don’t think they have the inclination for self-improvement. I’ll say this: everyone does. Our brains are elastic and they are more than capable of learning new tricks, no matter how old or stuck in our ways we are. Please just remember the name and store it somewhere in case you need it in the future.
If you’re nodding your head while reading. Simultaneously thinking that you’re desperate to be brave, but don’t know where to start, then I’m urging you to dig deeper than you’ve ever dug before. We can always find the capacity from somewhere. We need to start putting faith in ourselves. Even when our worlds become dark and the battles are never ending. Brené has a brilliant acronym, which I know I’ll be coming back to time and again. Who can argue with here logic?
My interpretation of B.R.A.V.I.N.G
Boundaries – set them and stick to them
Reliability – don’t be a flakey friend or half in family member
Accountability – ultimately you are responsible for your own actions
Vault – dig deep and trust yourself
Integrity – courage over comfort, every-single-time
Non-judgement – we never fully know what the other person has going on in their lives
Generosity – help others by passing on your knowledge and experience
Once b.r.a.v.i.n.g is in place, I am absolutely confident that the big shiny life you always wanted will be in reach.
**Full disclosure: I have not been commissioned to write this pice and it has not been endorsed by Brené Brown. I can only hope she approves.**