From The Blog

Wholehearted Living

Wholehearted Living

It’s been really exciting times lately as we put together our new online programs Better Man / Super Dad / FIFO Families… and just quietly, we are also planning a mums program too!

Something that seems to happen for us amidst focused creative flurry is that synchronicities begin to happen. As the content is being rolled out, things appear that are in alignment with what we are doing, sometimes that very minute.

Just yesterday for example, I was compiling the second module of the Better Man program which is ‘Right Mindset’, and in particular one of the components is the ‘Paradox of Power’.

This is all about being able to get out of our own way, and especially for men, to utilise the more subtle and very necessary powers that often lie dormant and unused.

I recalled the Power of Vulnerability video we share on our email series and behold the next name I see on my computer was Brene Brown (the speaker in this video), this time in a podcast. So I listened to it and it really was incredibly aligned with what we were putting together that very same day.

I’ve attached a link for this podcast at the bottom but for now here’s my brief synopsis of it and it’s also a sneak peek into module 2 of the new programs coming soon!

Sneak peek: In particular look at the Step 1 & 2, we have different words for it but it is essentially the same.

She begins by sharing the story behind her beginning the work that has made her extremely popular these days. She was looking at connection and belonging as core human needs.

No argument there.

And in doing this she ran headlong into something else!

Before we go on, it is important to note that Brown has studied this through 13 years of exhaustive quantitative interviews with thousands of people. When the data pointed to something new she would re-interview to go deeper into the next layer. It became quite an adventure!

To her credit she realised that it came to a point when she could no longer study this, that she actually had to live it herself and look at her own personal gremlins that stood in the way of her living a wholehearted life. She took 12 months off from research and did her own inner-research.

So what you hear from her is someone that walks their talk!

In this audio (link below) Brown states that – “if you want your kids to grow up facing in the right direction and taking the steps towards a wholehearted life, it won’t be because you fed them the intellectual information and data about what it looks like”.

It’s going to be because they watched their parents doing it.

Be the adult you want your children to be.

Pretty straight up right?

She defines Vulnerability as; Uncertainty, Risk, & Emotional Exposure.

Then she goes through 4 Myths of Vulnerability;

  1. “It is weakness”. Fact is it’s the most accurate measure of courage.
  2. “You can opt-out”. Fact is if you are not doing vulnerability, it is doing you!
  3. Vulnerability is “letting it all hang out”. It is not just telling people things, firstly they need to have earned it. It evokes trust and intimacy and is NOT over-sharing or attention seeking.
  4. “You can do vulnerability by yourself”. Fact is that it is relational.

So… How do you do Vulnerability?

Step 1  What are you currently doing with vulnerability?

Love and belonging are irreducible needs…. the key needs of connection. We are wired for connection in our DNA.

The absence of connection is absolute suffering and life then becomes painful and disconnected … impossible for children to reconcile. Typically they blame themselves.

As we grow up we form ways to handle disconnection in our family and community. We pick up weapons and put on armour that are strategies to survive AND to keep us safe and avoid these challenging feelings.

You may have a few strategies like perfectionism (so as not to draw criticism and negative attention), you might numb in many ways like food, sex, overachieve, work, internet and you may be in the group that stays in a state of disappointment (so as not to get let down). There are many and varied strategies that we as humans can adapt given the circumstances.

We all have our unique arsenal of weapons and suits of armor…. and the trick here is to put them down. This is a vulnerable act in itself. It can evoke strong fears yet paradoxically it is liberating and life-changing.

Life today dictates that for most of us we work long hours and in doing this have to battle traffic, bosses, clients and work colleagues to get our needs met and views heard… by this very nature we need some armor plating to participate. But when we get home the armour needs to come off… we need to not treat home like work. We need our intimate relationships to be free of defense mechanisms… it frees up energy as the armour is heavy and a burden to carry. This is sometimes called the ‘20 tonne shield’.

Step 2 What do I do now when I feel vulnerable?

Great question. Knowing our ‘inner gremlins’ is of immense value… so we can have choice in these matters that typically trigger us into emotional and non-rational states that unsettle and aggravate key relationships.

Brown states that through her extensive studies it was clear that men and women high in resilience understood triggers and vulnerabilities that open them up to feelings of powerlessness and shame.

Typically most people run on autopilot and these uncomfortable feelings are tucked away and the survival strategies run unquestioned… the man who reverts to anger because the real feelings are unworthiness and powerlessness. The mother who does too much to cover her feelings of being unimportant and unwanted.

The desired moment of choice to step out of this is rarely elegant and requires patience and practice. This job of being human (and especially parenting) is a tough one that brings daily challenges / opportunities to be bigger than those small parts of us we have dragged with us through life.

This is where the pause button is important. This that moment of courage and grace to step into powerful places… to DARE GREATLY.

Willingness to engage in Vulnerability is not just to understand it to get handle on shame and powerlessness. Vulnerability is essential to courageous living and is not just about where we are tender but a real kind of back-flip that is courageous and strong, to be seen,to walk into difficult conversations, to embrace uncertainty, to show up to say what you are thinking… to say ‘I love you’ first … this is essential to wholeheartedness.

Now you might be thinking that people who lived life like this have had a good childhood and life has been kind to them. Far from it. Those people in the study who lived wholeheartedly had faced no fewer divorces, bankruptcies, addictions and loss than anyone else, yet they have the capacity to feel worthwhile at the deepest of levels, not just when the conditions are all perfect and life is smooth sailing.

So, cultivate self compassion – it is a practice and a letting go of the biggest barrier – Perfectionism. Perfection will not keep us safe. Some think it as good but it is really not about striving to be our best selves and this is the difference. Healthy striving is very different to perfectionism. Perfectionism is a cognitive thought to live, look and act perfectly to minimise shame, blame, criticism and judgement, it is about protecting ourselves… the 20 tonne shield. Healthy striving can handle conflict, mistakes and criticism, Perfectionists run from these.

Here’s the 10 steps to Wholehearted living. Note it is not so much a ‘do’s and dont’s’ list but is inviting a practice. This says to us that it’s not something studied but a commitment that is an unfolding process.

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
  2. Cultivating Self‐Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self‐Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self‐Doubt and “Supposed To”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

We are souped-up and very excited to be producing these new programs and if you are interested in this topic (which we think all parents should be), then please stay tuned!

Here’s the link to the podcast;

Best wishes



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