(Quote and photo courtesy of BreneBrown.com)
Profound, right? (Of course it is, Brene Brown said it!) Yes, it sounds great. But what does it mean to love ourselves through owning our story? What does that look like? And what makes it so brave?
One of the key phrases in this quote is the loving ourselves part. Because owning our story means that we feel love for ourselves. Can we love ourselves with our story - by understanding our actions, having compassion for what we've done and what's happened, and love everything about the journey? Can we provide ourselves with warmth and nurturing as we feel all of it?
I know how difficult this can be with the story of our lives. When we run from our stories, we may say "I wish I didn't..." "I shouldn't have to go through..." "Why me?" We may try to forget what's happened to us and say "I'm gonna put this behind me" "I'm not gonna let this bother me" without acknowledging the need for love, safety and self-reflection first.
I knew I was denying my story when I started dating immediately after a break-up. I went on so many dates in two weeks that I forgot about the most important person I was supposed to date...myself. I was running from my past, thinking it didn't exist in order to move forward. But what I needed instead was to feel the sadness, hurt, anger and pain first. That's real love.
When we are loving, we acknowledge the need to feel. Think about it this way - if you were a child and going through pain/sadness/etc, what would a nurturing mother want for you? Would she want you to run from that pain or would she want to give you a warm hug, allow you to cry, make you a home-cooked meal and tell you to have a good nights rest? Now that's love.
"I'm not sure why I'm crying, but I know I need to."
"I think I need to just be angry right now."
"It hurts to feel this but I know it's what I need."
Another part of the work in loving ourselves with owning our story is acknowledging the whole self. Let's own our strengths, our insecurities, our fears, and our positive attributes. Let's not call our struggles stupid or unworthy. When we deny all parts of our selves, we leave it up to others to decide our story. And seriously, who are they to tell us what our story is?! As Brene Brown said, "You either walk inside your story and own it or you stand outside your story and hustle for your worthiness."
The way I discovered my walk inside my story was through writing. It was a powerful tool to help me discover what is going on in my mind. The I from within comes out.
"Even though he thinks I'm 'crazy,' I know I'm not."
"Just because this happened to me, it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with me."
"I made mistakes. I made myself look like a fool at times. But it's okay."
And that's what makes it brave. When we speak our story, we are brave enough to say to others...
"This happened to me, this is part of who I am. I accept that."
When we own something, we speak proudly about it. You know that quote - "Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes"? That's owning our truth, our story. It means we look people in the eye when we explain our past. I knew I was there when I gave myself time and space to talk about my experiences. I looked someone in the eye, I didn't rush through it and I allowed myself to share it in detail. That's owning it.
Owning it allows for change. It allows us to open up to our power, our light.
"I'm happy where I am right now. I acknowledge the past and accept where I am."
"I experienced this and here is how it changed me."
"I was unaware before but after going through what I did, I know more about me."
So I'll encourage you to:
Allow yourself to love. Allow yourself to feel. Watch how you speak to yourself and how you speak to others. Do you give yourself the ability to open up to others, in a vulnerable way? Do you allow yourself to hear your voice, not just listening to what others think? And if you're truly struggling, do you allow yourself to seek a friend/therapist to explore yourself even more?
Find yourself, your story. And own it. <3
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou
Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we
discover the infinite power of our light. -Brene Brown
I acknowledge that my feelings with the break-up may not
be as deep as others' feelings, especially if that person has childhood trauma
and abuse, but that does not mean it's not necessary. All feelings are necessary.
How does it feel to heal your inner wounds? What does it mean to be fully alive?