It’s hard to believe that this is the last post of our wholehearted series. For those of you who are just tuning in, we have been covering Brene Brown’s 10 guideposts for wholehearted living. In setting the premise for this series, we had discussed the development of secure attachments in our relationships, and how learning to live a wholehearted life can lead us towards security, connection, and intimacy. This week we are focusing on the final guidepost, number ten, “Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting go of Being Cool and ‘Always in Control.’”
Letting go of being cool and always in control sounds like something we grow out of in high school or university. However, I think it actually gets worse the older we get. As adults, we don’t allow ourselves the freedom to be goofy or silly because there is a sense of always needing to be calm, cool and collected. According to Dr. Brown, being too loud or overbearing triggers shame in women, and men’s shame is often triggered by not living up to the expectations of their coworkers or spouses. Many of us are so worried about what other people think and how they will perceive us that it is paralyzing. We present ourselves as a perfectly put together package, and often won’t risk stepping out of line for fear of tarnishing our polished exterior.
I have a confession; it has been a long journey for me to really understand I do not need to present myself as a strong, polished, perfect marble statue to the world. On this journey, I have learned that it’s impossible to separate ourselves from our human nature. As a human being, I have failed at being perfect every time I have tried. The fact that we are all human and all make mistake is what makes us relatable to each other. A statue, regardless of how shiny and adorned, is not relatable. Another thing I have learned is that people are attracted to authenticity, and the mask of perfection is the exact opposite. When I am getting to know a person, I look for authenticity, understanding, and connection. Wearing a mask of perfection prevents us from truly connecting to others and letting our true selves be seen. It is so important to let go of being cool and of what others think because “being cool” robs us of some pretty amazing and necessary experiences in life. Most importantly, when we slip into being inauthentic and polish our exterior, it robs us of laughter, song and dance.
According to Dr. Brown “laughter, song and dance create emotional and spiritual connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are all searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration, or healing: We are not alone” (Brown, 2010, p 118). Now stop for a minute and think about the last time you had a good laugh. Not the laughing at a crude joke kind of laugh, but sincere laughter shared between two people who really understand and are comfortable with each other. How long has it been? Personally, I find laughter through play fighting and being silly with my husband. We normally get in at least one good laugh a day, but at the beginning of my journey, laughing and being silly would not have been apart of everyday life. According to Dr. Brown, laughter is a major component of shame resilience and is a way of communicating that you are present with and understand the person you are sharing the laughter with.
Song has the ability to move us emotionally; we all have a unique song and playlist of our life that evokes nostalgic memories from the years gone by. Music’s importance and impact on our life is undeniable, yet how many of you would sing in public or even in front of your friends? Not, me! That is one I will be working on for a while. Dr. Brown explains that music reaches out and offers us connection; it possesses something important that we cannot live without. Paired with music is our ability to dance. If I had to guess, dancing is the thing that “being cool” robs us of the most. Dr. Brown explains that “laughing hysterically can make us feel a little out of control, and singing out loud can make some of us feel self-conscious. But for many of us, there is no form of self-expression that makes us feel more vulnerable than dancing. It is full body vulnerability” (Brown, 2010,p 119). She compares dancing to its next most vulnerable situation—being naked.
Why is all of this important? Well, when we are driven by how others perceive us, we are trying to control what others think so that we can feel good enough. Dr. Brown explains that “we hustle for our worthiness by slipping on the emotional and behavioural straight jacket of cool and posturing as the tragically hip and the terminally “better than” (p 123). We are always trying to present as polished, composed and unshakeable, but we are human and we are not fooling anybody. In conclusion, we need to let go of being calm, cool and collected and just be ourselves. Here are some quick reminders how:
Get playful, let go of what others think and just be you. Allow space for silliness and goofiness. Playfulness and laughter are good for the soul and often go together. Learn more about how to cultivate play here.
Ok I will admit it; some of us are just not blessed with a voice like Beyoncé. BUT that should never keep us from enjoying singing. Play your favourite music while you shower and sing your heart out, sing along to music while cooking dinner or in your car. Music can be healing, have a positive impact on mood and help us to cope if we select songs with a positive message!
Play music in your house while cleaning, cooking, driving, etc. Dare yourself to dance like no one is watching and let loose a little bit. Dance to the music in your car or bop around at the grocery store. The only person you need to worry about pleasing is yourself. Live your life for you and don’t let others expectations rob you of priceless memories with family and friends.
Brown, B. (2010). The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You Are. Centre City: MN, Hazelden