In her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection”, Brene Brown identifies these gifts as compassion, courage and connection. My understanding of these three gifts are that compassion includes both caring for others and for ourselves. Courage is identified as showing up with all your insecurities and being willing to make connections with others. Connection needs to be highlighted by the ability to take risks with each other, holding ourselves and others accountable for the actions and behaviours we display.
What compassion means to me is treating others with respect and being non-judgmental. The same holds true for the way we treat ourselves. We owe each other and ourselves the respect of truth and honesty while being non-judgmental in our encounters with each other. To me, this means accepting ourselves and others, our feelings, thoughts and behaviours while also expecting accountability for the role we play with our actions. In this way, compassion does not become a free for all acceptance of everything we do, but a boundary driven force with the intention to take responsibility for our own healing.
To me, courage is the ability to stand up in front of others with our shortcomings, failures and shame, feeling the vulnerability but pushing forward with communication regardless. It also, I think, means accepting responsibility for our own journey through this life and changing accordingly. It is a strong person who reveals his/her own fears and shame with others. I do believe that this must be done in a safe way, with someone whom we trust, who has themselves shown vulnerability and with whom we feel comfortable with. This leads straight into connection.
I believe that we have different levels of connection. There is a surface level association with others that does not require us to give of ourselves completely. The casual relationship with no strings nor trust per say. There is a general friend that we might enjoy the company of and who may one day come into our inner circle but neither of us have taken any risks with our feelings yet. Finally, there are a few (and maybe only one) inner circle mentors with whom we have taken risks (showing courage) and shared our stories (or at least a bit of our story). This has coincided with an acceptance of each other (compassion) and the ability to hold each other accountable (being honest without judgment). Each level of connection has boundaries that we set for ourselves and for others in order to keep ourselves safe. This does not mean that we are not taking risks–setting boundaries is a risk and takes courage.
The one thing that is not overly clear to me in all of this is the setting of boundaries. I tend to have an all or nothing reaction to boundaries. I divulge everything or nothing, often with the wrong people. This, then, becomes the work I need to do. I need to find out more about boundaries and how they are used to keep me safe. I need to explore how to set appropriate boundaries. What do they look like, feel like and sound like? Boundaries! The work I need to do as I move forward. This, by the way, is taking responsibility for my own journey of healing which I am approaching very seriously. I have my work cut out for me. I think I know where I’m headed and that I’m on the right track. Have a great day! Jaidan
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