Sunday, February 17, 2013

The opposite of weakness

I hold it true, whate-er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson

My daughter Hadley, who was supposed to be sleeping, popped out of her room last night to randomly quiz me on opposites. What is the opposite of dark? What is the opposite of hot? She continued her line of questioning today. I threw her some curveballs at breakfast and she threw them right back. I asked what is the opposite of Daddy? Her answer: “Mommy”.

This month as I focus on childlike innocence, I have also had to face innocence’s opposite: guilt.  I couldn’t find the source of mine until I read Brene Brown’s "Daring Greatly". If I understand the book correctly, I likely misdiagnosed my nagging sense of guilt. What I am really battling is shame. According to Brown, guilt is feeling bad about what you do. Shame is feeling bad about who you are. Shame is unworthiness. Shame is “never enough”. Shame is scarcity.

Here is where it gets interesting. Brown doesn’t consider abundance to be the opposite of scarcity. She considers scarcity’s opposite to be wholeheartedness. Think about all the rich people who are miserable or all the accomplished people who still feel so unfulfilled. Abundance is wonderful, but only when abundance is also enough.

Of all the books I have read over the past eight months while on this journey to Be More Childlike, this is the one that may be the most useful for the trip. Daring Greatly gives several helpful ways to choose: faith over fear. self-love over shame and connection over isolation. It all begins with surrendering to vulnerability rather than staying secretly stuck in the opposite state of being guarded. Wholeheartedness is embracing vulnerability. Putting yourself out there is the opposite of being weak. It is courageous. Who is more vulnerable than children? Who is more wholehearted than children?  Who is more authentic? I found Daring Greatly to be a road map for being more childlike.

If you have twenty minutes, watching Brown’s Tedx Talk is well worth the time. She is a wife and mom, who despite her Ph.D. and fifteen years of research on shame, still struggles with worthiness and vulnerability every day.

Between our own personal failings, school shootings, terrorism and Mayan calendar predictions, stepping into vulnerability is no easy task. My dark sense of humor finds it funny that as I was finishing the book, a meteor tore through Russia injuring one thousand people. Meteor Video Now there is outer space to also not be guarded against.

What is the risk of allowing yourself to be vulnerable? What is the reward?

For today's "Sky's the Limit" on what you can learn: The opposite of light is heavy. I find it fascinating that even though clouds float, an average cloud carries more than one billion kilograms of water weight. That is thousands of blue whales inside every cloud. Crazy!  How much do clouds weigh?

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