RETIREMENT COACHING – DEBBIE DRINKARD GROVUM-During dinner one night friends shared their favorite “scary Florida critter” encounters. Stories about snakes (poisonous and not) in beds, dryers, driveways and pools and alligators in garages, pools and under backyard trampolines were flying around the table. I shared my encounters with a rattlesnake on the golf cart path and a pair of black snakes outside my front door. Everyone had at least one scary experience to share.
As I acclimate to Florida, I am learning to peacefully co-exist with a whole new group of wildlife-some potentially threatening but most just new to my everyday experiences. I made peace with the geckos who always seem to find their way into my screened lanai. I progressed from screeching in surprise to carefully sweeping them out the door to now quietly sharing my lanai with them.
Initially these animals frightened me because I didn’t know what to expect; I was in a new environment. Living in a new state, I am also in a new psychological environment and don’t always know what to expect. Will I connect with people and establish nurturing relationships? Will I be able to live with purpose and make a contribution? Will I feel like this is home?
It is not uncommon to experience fear or anxiety about moving to a new place or situation. Although as experienced adults we bring greater perspective, self-awareness and skills to new situations than we did when we were younger, we still may experience moments of fear and doubt about how we will thrive in a new environment.
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Dr. Brene Brown offers guidance for “whole hearted living”, a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness. She stresses that choosing to live whole heartedly is a process, a lifetime journey. “It is 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 brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
According to Dr. Brown, we need three tools to live wholeheartedly- courage, compassion, and connection. Practicing each of these tools daily moves us closer to wholehearted living. Dr. Brown defines courage as putting our vulnerability on the line, speaking openly and honestly about who we are. Compassion is sharing someone’s pain with them, realizing that it is a relationship between equals not between the healer and the wounded. She defines connection as “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”
How can we practice courage, compassion and connection in our daily lives, enabling us to live more wholeheartedly? Ponder the questions below as a start.
In what areas of my life do I hesitate to share my vulnerability? Where could I speak more openly and honestly about myself and my feelings?
Who in my life is able to embrace me for my strengths and struggles? How do I share my struggles with this person?
With whom do I feel most seen, heard and valued? In what relationships do I feel most energized?
In the second half of the book, Dr. Brown provides ten guideposts for developing courage, compassion and connection.
- Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
- Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
- Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
- Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
- Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
- Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
- Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
- Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
- Cultivating Meaningful Work” Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed to”