Vivere, Discere Et Roborámini!

Brené Brown has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame, claims the article Life Lessons: Brené Brown On Shame, Courage And Vulnerability .

Deliberately, I didn’t read the article or the book, for that matter. My bad. In my defense, I’ll say this: The rigor of such studies is admirable but I spent, perhaps, twice as much time experimenting on myself, and while at it, reached a few conclusions of my own. Nothing beats hands on experience. Rather than express my opinion on the subject of Brené Brown’s opinion, I’d state my opinion on the subject of Ms. Brown’s major statements.

1.   Fitting In Is Not Belonging

Little Girl wantsa kittenTrue. Cannot agree more. When a puzzle piece finds its designated place in the picture, it fits. But does it belong? It does, but only to a degree – the edges and the outline are clearly visible.

The state of true belonging could be reached only if the perfectly fitting piece fills the edges and blends in completely. An imperfect metaphor? Maybe. But it fits, doesn’t it? Although it might or might not belong to the dominion of perfect reasoning. Take it or leave it, it’s up to you.

 Big Boy wants a puppyCharles Baxter, in his Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction said, “When all the details fit in perfectly, something is probably wrong with the story.”  Very fittingly, no?

2.   Guilt Is Not Bad For You

Sometimes. Occasionally. Particularly if you are the only one who is aware of your guilt. If your guilt is common knowledge, it sucks.

If your guilt bugs you really bad — go on, embark on a guilt trip, but take my advice: Don’t combine it with mountain climbing or ascending the stairways of really tall cathedrals, unless you can fly. And, if at all possible, stay a safe distance away from brick walls. Your skull might not be sturdy enough to withstand an impact should you, overcome by guilt, decide to crush test it.

In short, don’t penalize yourself, particularly inflicting cruel and unusual punishment. Believe me, the world is filled with gentle souls who’d be happy to do it for you, or, rather, to you.

3.    Perfectionism Is Not About Striving For Excellence

 The first question one has to ask oneself is this: Is my goddamn perfectionism is maladaptive? Could it be linked to OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)? If the answer is yes, then it has nothing to do with striving for excellence. Check with your mental health provider if in doubt. God knows, you might be an excellent patient for a shrink striving for excellence.

Ancient Romans said, and conveniently preserved for posterity, the following: “Semper ad excellentiam contende.Always pursue excellence. Afterwards, however, wise folks they were indeed, they gave it some thought and issued an addendum:  “Ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia.”  Consequences of abuse do not apply to general use.

“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content,” Leo Tolstoy says in Anna Karenina. And you know what happened to poor Anna, don’t you? She fell really hard for a steam engine. See my previous post to get an idea what that guy looked like. Perfection… given the absence of atomic engine.

Dali MuseumSalvador Dalí knew what he was talking about when he encouragingly discouraged, “Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” And he never did. I always thought that his Persistence of Memory is in dire need of improvement. Especially the clock. Just look at it! An outrage! The Time has literally run out of Shape.

  • 4.    Vulnerability Is An Act Of Courage

Ah, but of course. It’s claimed to be much harder – and thus more courageous – to show your “true” feelings. Nowadays, more often than not, we associate those “true” feelings with weakness, vulnerability and  ABSENCE of courage, rather than PRESENCE of audacity and strength. Ever wondered why?

Perhaps, because the strong and the courageous among us don’t redefine an act of courage. They simply ACT courageously, and don’t talk all that much about it.

Live, learn and be courageous —Vivere, Discere Et Roborámini!

Now then, perhaps, I should work up some courage and read Brené Brown, the article, or both, only to see how my experiments failed – or proved – her theories. Ah, well…

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