Guidepost #3 – Wholehearted Living

Today’s guidepost is powerful and one that a simple Facebook post can in no way do justice. For the purpose of today’s post, I’m going to summarize two main concepts behind this guidepost: Numbing, and Spirituality (from The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown).

First, Numbing.

Here are three key points about numbing that emerged from Brené’s research:
1. Most of us engage in behaviors (consciously or not) that help us to numb and take the edge off vulnerability, pain, and discomfort. [This can look like a glass of wine (or two or three) after a day of getting knocked around at work, an extra slice of pizza (or two or three) to take the edge off of waiting for test results or a decision to be made, or avoiding feelings of grief, shame, fear, or sadness by zoning out in front of the TV or surfing the internet.]
2. Addiction can be described as chronically and compulsively numbing and taking the edge off of feelings. [Addiction doesn’t just refer to substances like drugs, alcohol, and food. It can also show up in behaviors like relationship drama, social media usage, and caretaking.]
3. We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions. [Our capacity to experience joy and other positive emotions diminishes when we avoid or are unable to tolerate the harder emotions.]

Next, Spirituality.

As we let go of numbing and powerlessness and instead cultivate a resilient spirit, it’s helpful to understand exactly what underpins resiliency.

While resiliency (the ability to overcome adversity) is a thoroughly studied topic, new data emerged from Brené’s research on Wholehearted Living: the foundation of resiliency is spirituality. Those who engaged with life in a more wholehearted and resilient way, described elements of spirituality as what helped them to bounce back from hard times. Here is the definition of spirituality that emerged from the data:

“Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion. Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives.”
Brené goes on to share about the people she studied… “Most people spoke of God, but not everyone. Some were occasional churchgoers; others were not. Some worshipped at fishing holes; others in temples, mosques, or at home. Some struggled with the idea of religion; others were devout members of organized religions. The one thing that they all had in common was spirituality as the foundation of their resilience.”

Questions to consider:

How does numbing show up in your life? Do you agree that numbing the difficult emotions makes it less likely that you will fully experience positive emotions?

What do you think about spirituality being the foundation of overcoming adversity?

Share your comments below. Let’s be brave, kind, and awkward together!