Check out this awesome clip by Pro Infirmis by clicking on their logo below …
Between the Lines (Brene Brown 14)
So this is my last official post on Brene Brown’s book ‘I thought it was just me (but it isn’t)’. In truth I’ll only be half way through her book by ending here, but I feel strongly that this is where I need to stop in terms of ‘studying’. From now on I want to APPLY what I’ve learned. It really doesn’t help gaining head knowledge and leaving it there … it’s got to drop down to the heart and revolutionize the soul.
Last time I looked at ‘Normalizing vs Pathologizing’ in understanding developing our Critical Awareness around shame. The final factor in developing Critical Awareness is Demystifying vs Reinforcing…
Demystifying is simply taking the mystery out of something. Most of us know what it’s like to be on the outside of an ‘inner circle’. We’ve all laughed uproariously at a joke a group are sharing – too embarrassed to admit we haven’t a clue what they’re on about but too scared to be excluded. Expand that vision out to our pet villain, the beauty industry and ‘bam!’ there we are trying to fit in and look the part but never quite getting it right. They do that on purpose you know. As Brene says: “When individuals, groups or institutions want to exclude people or raise their status, they have a tendency to shroud themselves, their products or their ideas in mystery.”
Oh what a wonderful world if everyone were more like Brene who believes strongly that “if we have ‘mysterious powers’ – if we know how something sacred works – we are obligated to share what we know. Knowledge is power, and power is never diminished by sharing it – it is only increased.” Unfortunately the beauty industry, Hollywood etc will never reveal their secrets or – more accurately – confess the truth so we’ll have to come at them from a different angle: Fight against reinforcing their deceptive messages.
We reinforce the lies we’re fed in order to feel secure. I strive to be as perfect as possible – hoping to make the ‘universal beauty grade’ – thereby ‘ensuring’ my acceptance by others.
I’m a dog chasing my own tail. The secret club whispered about by magazine covers is as fictitious as the airbrushing employed, as dark as the greed behind it and as flimsy and the paper its printed on. All the time the people I love and most desire to be loved by are besotted with me simply because of who I am – warts and all.
I need a good fat slap!!!
Brene applies this chapter more to knowledge about things and the fear of asking questions, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll leave it here.
As I said above, this is my last post on Brene’s book. I’ll be going back and reading through all 14 sessions so that I can start applying what I’ve learned – that should make for some very colorful posts next year! I suggest you do the same if you’re anything like me
I’ll also be reading the rest of this book which still covers the following:
~ Reaching Out
~ Speaking Shame
~ Practicing Courage in a Culture of Fear
~ Practicing Compassion in a Culture of Blame
~ Practicing Connection in a Culture of Disconnection
~ Creating a Culture of Connection
I can’t end without expressing my thanks to Brene Brown whose commitment to studying something so important will not only serve to speed up my journey to inner freedom, but the journeys of countless others too. Brene, it’s nice to know that I share your struggles with shame, your hope for freedom and your faith in God too.
I have no excuses for my long silence. Just a truthful explanation: From my Mother coming down for the first anniversary of my Father’s death through to now; life got busy. By the time two weeks had passed after my last blog post, I got to that strange place where I feel guilty for not blogging enough and all tied up about whether or not I’m making a difference. Throw in two pre-schoolers and the end-of-year mayhem and you have my long silence.
I’m here now though wanting to say I’m still around. Although I’ll be heading to the Wild Coast in a few days time and won’t be able to blog from there, I’ve given myself a good talking too and have unearthed my sense of purpose from under the pile of emotional crap it’s been hiding in. We’ll be away until mid-Jan and then straight into settling the kiddies into ‘big school’. To be realistic I’ll probably start blogging again at the beginning of February.
Before I go though I want to tie up my work on Brene Brown’s incredible book “I thought it was just me (but it isn’t). Which I’ll do in my next post.
Until then, here are a few pics of what’s been happening in my life since we last spoke …
Time with my amazing children…
A LOT of baking…
Shopping for a new Cozzie: One of quite a few bad-body-image triggers…
Many amazing meals…
And finally, many hours spent with my niece Eliana…
This clip posted on Upworthy serves to illustrate what I’ve been writing about in my last few Brene Brown posts. This is the standard set by billion dollar commercial entities, an impossible target to reach – literally.
Surely it’s unethical? Surely it’s unlawful? It’s false advertising. It’s blatant lying.
And not only has it played a HUGE part in forming my opinion of myself, but with the power it holds I’m going to have to work pretty bloody hard to keep my little girl from being tainted by it too …
Click here to see what I’m ranting about:
Between the Lines (Brene Brown 13)
Right, so I worked through Contextualizing vs Individualizing. Not let’s look at Normalizing vs Pathologizing.
I think the words we most need to here (and Brene says it in her book) is “You’re not alone” and that is what this blog is all about. That’s at the heart of normalizing. It’s saying ‘your soft bits drive you crazy? Don’t worry, me too and about a billion other women out there.’
The opposite of normalizing is pathologizing. This is where we feel like we’re the only one or at least the only one we know who feels the way we feel and falls short of the expectations we come up against. Instead of feeling normal, we then feel abnormal. And that feeling of being different is fertile soil for shame to grow.
In order to develop shame resilience we need to work at seeing the bigger picture and reaslising that we are very much NOT alone and that what we feel and think are pretty normal (most of the time!) We really do need to look at our cultural, social, economic and even religious environments in order to get this bigger picture. If I were a Latina woman I’m sure my soft bits would be my best parts and I would have grown up swaying them down the street with pride. Instead I fall under the UK/USA banner where Twiggy still rules and skeletal is the norm.
That’s all for this segment – I’ve got one more heading of Brene’s to work through and then I’ll start applying it all to my struggling psyche!
Right, so in my last post I ask and answered questions that developed my critical awareness, I now need to practice it by linking my experiences with the questions and answers I worked through. I’ll be doing that moving forward, but let’s keep with Brene’s book and take on the next section for now: using out critical awareness to build shame resilience.
This is done by learning how to:
Contextualize (see the big picture)
Normalize (knowing I’m not the only one)
Demystify (Sharing what I know with others)
Right, so today I’ll look at Contextualizing.
Contextualizing is a biggie because when we’re in shame our world shrinks and we see only ourselves and our struggle. By contextualizing we pull back from the situation completely to see the bigger picture at work. Unfortunately understanding how corporates and individuals benefit from my feeling shame doesn’t take the shame away, but it does help build resilience. As Brene says “If we feel shame because, despite out best efforts, we can’t look like the model on the cover of a magazine, it helps to know that the model probably doesn’t look like that either. Her blemishes are airbrushed, her legs are stretched using a computer, her smile is whitened and her clothes are borrowed.”
Preach it sister!
If however we fall prey to the web of deceit woven by magazines, cosmetic companies and clothing labels and don’t fight to put their lies into context, we’ll sink in shame as we fail over and over again to attain their impossible standards.
More dangerous than that though is viewing how we feel as a personal problem and not the universal struggle it is. As Brene explains, shame is a social construct in that it’s how we feel when we see ourselves through someone else’s eyes.
Oh my goodness! Last time I did a post on Brene Brown’s book was in August. I can hardly believe that so much time has past. Oh well, we’ll have to roll with it J
(In order to make sense of what I’m writing here, you’ll have to go back to 20 Aug and read Brene Brown 10 – and the posts before that if you haven’t been following from the beginning).
Right, so last time I wrote this is what I was doing:
“I had started the process of developing critical awareness and getting the big picture on where the messages that break me down come from. The next step is to take my shame triggers and put them against the big picture I’ve seen and ask myself the following questions:
1. How realistic are my expectations
2. Can I be all these things all of the time
3. Do the expectations conflict with each other
4. Am I describing who I want to be or what others want me to be
5. If someone perceives me as having these unwanted identities, what will happen
6. Can I control how others perceive me? How do I try?
In order not to overwhelm myself or you, I’ll answer the first three questions now and the next three in my next session.”
So this is the ‘next session’ and I’ll be looking at questions 4 – 6.
(4) Am I describing who I want to be or what others want me to be?
It’s a mix really. I want to be fit and healthy and feel good in my clothes, but I also feel that I HAVE to be that way.
(5) If someone perceives me as having these unwanted identities, what will happen?
I could be rejected. If I’m harsh instead of kind the person witnessing the interaction would probably not like me for it. And if I walk into a room with my top clinging to my love-handles and my thighs rubbing together people who see me may look down on me for being out of shape and looking plump.
So let’s say they do smirk at me behind my back? If they’re doing that I probably don’t know them and if I do know them then it’s probably time to de-friend them! And if it’s a friend who silently thinks to herself ‘Gee, Jax is a bit softer than I realised.’ So what. Right? Ummm … to be honest, it’s all still theory to me L
(6) Can I control how others perceive me? How do I try?
To a certain extent I can control how I’m perceived. I can wear flattering clothes and put on a happy face. In fact I know for sure that there are people out there now who can’t believe the pics I posted yesterday and that I actually look like that underneath my clothing. So yes, I control as much as I can and boy is it tiring. The sad thing is that I put so much effort into feigning perfection that when I’m found out it’s a very far fall from grace (to me). And sooner or later we’re all found out aren’t we. Especially if you put it all out there into cyberspace…
Sitting here today struggling with how I perceive my body these questions make me a bit sad. I feel so very far from reaching the freedom I so long for, but I have faith that it’ll happen and I’ll keep on working on it.
I have three more Brene sessions and then I’m going to stop working through the book and start going back and really applying what I’ve learned. That will make for some tragic comedy I can assure you!
I’m on a roll now so watch this space for my next session with Brene.
I’ve been having a bad body month.
I haven’t said much about it recently. Mostly because when I’m feeling this way a part of me withdraws to a dark place inside and I hide. When I’m in this place I’m usually short on patience with my kids, a bit disconnected amongst others and prone to feeling angry and sad when alone.
And the funny thing is that you’d never know. Had you done the school run with me this morning you would have seen me hugging and kissing the kiddies, chatting to the moms and waving as I drove away. This thing isn’t the wart on the face of my life, it’s the silent enemy inside that steals my freedom, joy and peace leaving me often just getting through my days instead of LIVING them.
And I’ve been hiding from you too. So here I am gritting my teeth to bare it all. That’s what Between the Lines is about and here’s where the rubber hits the road.
I’m really struggling at the moment. No matter how slim I may be in comparison to so-and-so or on some global average, the problem is that MY soft bits are driving me crazy. I’m painfully aware of them bulging and pushing and jiggling. Here’s a peak at what’s going on under the covers. You can see that over all I look fine, but under my covers lie the stuff that my psyche just can’t handle …
Because of where I’m at that cocktail of emotions is ever-present at varying degrees as my days progress. That noxious mix of anger, desperation, frustration and sadness. It brings me back to what I’ve read in Brene’s book and I really need to get into it again. Not just to go through the rest, but to apply what I’ve learned so far. No use in keeping this journey theoretical.
But I can’t do it now because I have 4 kids between the ages of 3 and 5 who need to get out the pool and will want some food soon.
I found this great post on one of my favourite blogs … SCARY MOMMY
Here Christine Organ from Chicago writes openly about loosing that unquestioning confidence of youth. Like everything on the Scary Mommy blog it’s light, engaging, thought provoking and honest.
Click on this pic taken from the post to have a read …
It’s a sunny Monday afternoon and it finally feels like summer is here to stay in Cape Town.
I’ve been busy with the kids as usual – one of the highlights this week being their close friend’s 5th birthday party yesterday morning complete with some of the nicest cupcakes I’ve tasted (the icing sugar in particular!).
Right up there was a trip to De Oude Bakerije in Stellenbosch. It is an incredible place to visit and offers artisan breads, meats, cheeses, ice-cream etc as well as some of the best beers my husband’s discovered so far! All this in a setting that is blends rustic sophistication, whimsy and welcome in perfect measure.
As usual we had out G&Tea Moms on Thursday … I don’t know who has more fun, the kids or the moms.
James has been getting into his coffee like his dad and is a master barista in the making.
As I mention all these festivities with food and drink flowing freely, my stomach is growling. Yip, my husband and I started the Master Cleanse today. For those of you new to the blog it’s a ten day detox where all you consume is a lemonade made out of water, lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. You also drink a liter of salt water in the morning and a mug of laxative tea at night.
Self-inflicted torture? Madness? Maybe, but I did it 2 months ago and the results were amazing. Yes I detoxed in a major way and lost a few centimeters from my ‘soft bits’, but the most significant change for me came in my mind and emotions. For me it was a detox of the soul and boy oh boy was there a lot of cleaning out last time!
For this reason my husband and I have decided to do it together. It did wonders for me as an individual and we want to take it on as a couple and put our marriage and family life on the 10-day-cleaning-cycle.
As I wrote in my last update, my personal focus in this season is the following:
To Glorify my God, Honour my Husband, Serve my Children and Love Myself.
I’ll keep you up to date on how I progress, especially the love myself bit as I (finally) get back in to Brene Brown this week.
So right now, on day 1 of the Cleanse, I’m wanting to travel back in time and have another one of those cupcakes from the party! Other than that, I’ve had a little bubble of sadness in my chest and a knot in my throat for most of the day. Amazing how putting time and mental space aside allows things to surface that would normally remain buried under the busyness of life.
My kiddies are snapping at each other and playing with my library so I need to step in and salvage my literature before they autograph the pages!
“Fullness of life isn’t found in our picture perfect pretences but behind the scenes where our glory mingles with our pain.” – anonymous
Join me as I take on some of the universal struggles we face in pursuit of a life lived to the full.
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