Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Beating Vulnerability To The Punch
I thought I read all of Daring Greatly carefully but yesterday I read something brand new which is so very true in my life. I heard it first when Brene' Brown told it to Oprah and then I found it in the book. How had I missed it? Was I skimming at that point? Here is the truth in a nutshell.
"When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding. We are trying to dress rehearse tragedy so we can beat vulnerability to the punch."
I'm sitting with that for a while. When I feel that effervescent bubble of joy rise up inside of me I feel scared. The "what ifs" rise with equal force and I feel I need to mitigate the emotion lest I am caught unaware. What if I lose what I so love and brings me such great joy? Isn't it better to be in an unmoving state of perpetual disappointment rather than let go and soar with the fleeting joy of everything being right? People who feel perpetual disappointment describe it this way: "It's easier to live disappointed than it is to feel disappointed. It feels more vulnerable to dip in and out of disappointment than to just set up camp there. You sacrifice joy, but you suffer less pain,"
Even as I type these words the sun is coming in and out of the clouds on a very rainy day. The warmth flooding in my kitchen window punctuates the attraction I feel to joy. Seconds later the light fades and I am in gray skies again. Would it be better to be forever under a gray sky?
"For those who rehearse tragedy, there's a reason (images of terrible things happening) flood into our mind the second we're overwhelmed with joy. When we spend our lives (knowingly or unknowingly) pushing away vulnerability, we can't hold space open for the uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure of joy."
Interestingly enough, according to Dr. Brown's data, those that are aware of the shudder of foreboding at the brink of joy, practice active gratitude as an antidote.
I wonder if that could intensify joy? Could the act of recording my gratitude bring my mind back to joy?
I will experiment with this concept as I am unsure. Here are some guidelines:
1. Joy comes to us in moments-ordinary moments. We risk missing out on joy when we get too busy chasing down the extraordinary.
2. Be grateful for what you have.
3. Don't squander joy. We can't prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into a test drive for despair, we actually diminish our resilience.