Open to Imperfection

Yesterday I was reflecting on how scepticism – the type based on keeping an open mind – was really about allowing ourselves to vulnerable.

When I started this study, one of the first sources to revisit was Brené Brown’s talk from TEDxHouston in 2010. There are so many insights that resonate for me in her talk, and must resonate for others – 7.6 million views – if you haven’t watched it, watch now.

What strikes me as relevant to scepticism are her comments on the mindset we bring to research. As a researcher she felt her role in studying phenomena was to control and predict, control and predict. And yet the power of inquiry comes from being open not closed. Open to new discoveries, open to the imperfections.

Revisiting her talk emphasises the singular importance of connection. Connection is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. She notes that people who feel worthy of connection have a strong sense of love and belonging – described as whole-hearted lives. They have the courage to tell the story of who they are with their whole heart, the courage to be imperfect. They connect because they are able to let go of who they think they should be and be seen for who they are. And they get that the practice of compassion first requires us to be kind to ourselves.

That a practice of compassions requires us first to be kind to ourselves is discussed in Karen Armstrong’s book also and something I’ll come back to.

But the other traits of whole-heartedness? The courage to be imperfect? To let myself be seen for not who I should be, but who I am? This is awkward. I thought in some ways I’d managed this, but it seems as though in trying to do this I swap one set of assumptions and identity for another. It’s that ungraspable truth that in trying to reach it, you push it further away*.

[Day 29 – Listening]

*Dog bites basketball, Chasing a greasy pig and Trying to catch vapour, Pushing opposing magnets – These were the best my Twitter plea elicited to describe this feeling. That I think there is a common way express this, and that’s it’s sitting out of reach in the back of my head, and yet the more I think about it the further away the word slips is unhelpful but wryly funny.