Congo to a teenager. Bolivia. Cameroun. What is a faun? Higher up and further in with an outreach twist. Writing.

Thoughts on Love by Brenne Brown

” In ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ I share the definition of love that I developed based on my data.  Here it is:

‘We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.  Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.  Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows.  Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed, and rare.’

Developing this definition was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  Professionally, it just seemed arrogant to try to define something as big and important as love.  It felt like an endeavor best left to the poets and artists.  My motivation was not to “nail it”, but to start a conversation about what we need and want from love.  I don’t care if I’m wrong, but let’s talk about love.  Let’s have some conversations about the experience that gives meaning to our lives.

Personally, I fought the data with everything I have.  Over and over, I heard the idea of self-love as a prerequisite to loving others, and I hated it.  Sometimes it’s so much easier to love Steve and the kids than it is to love myself.  It’s so much easier to accept their quirks and eccentricities than it is to practice self-love around what I see as my deep flaws.  But in practicing self-love over the past couple of years, I can say that it has immeasurably deepened my relationships with the people I love.  It’s given me the courage to show up and be vulnerable in new ways, and that’s what love is all about.

As we think about shame and love, the most pressing question is this:  Are we practicing love?  Yes, most of us are really good at professing it – sometimes ten times a day.  But are we walking the talk?  Are we being our most vulnerable selves?  Are we showing trust, kindness, affection, and respect to our partners, to our “small groups”? It’s not the lack of professing that gets us in trouble in our relationships; it’s failing to practice love that leads to hurt.”- Brenne Brown, in her book “Daring Greatly”

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