As It Is or As I Am – the Art of Becoming

A journey … towards … being

Tag Archives: Brené Brown

A brave new ending?

A comment following a recent Facebook post I made, asked the question “What will be your new ending?” I’m not sure if the question was rhetorical or not? Anyway, decided to give a longer answer here, as on reflection various thoughts came to me. My status was commenting on a Brene Brown blog post –
“When we deny our stories, they define us.

When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new ending.”

This reminds me of something Carl Rogers wrote that I have seen occur in so many people and clients lives:

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

For me the two quotes blend or merge together in truth. When we deny things about ourselves, is it not the same as not accepting ourselves, as to who we currently are or where we are?

Accepting and owning our stories is often painful, as well as, initially shaming. How can we admit those things (that happened to us, that we did or still do, that we thought, felt or feel now) to ourselves, let alone anyone else? Yet, if we don’t as Brene Brown writes they will still “define us”. Anger will shape us, the addiction will swap us, the racism, the homophobia will shape our worldview.

Once we acknowledge we are an angry person, that we have an addictive personality, that we are racist, homophobic, look down on others who are different from us, or share any other not so nice quality, we can change. Such acceptance will bring shame. It will be painful to admit such to ourselves. Once we do so there is an inner freedom that comes – a release from the shame that debilitates us and prevents from real change. Underlying this acceptance and facing the shame is a willingness to be vulnerable.

However, such self confession, I believe, does not mean we are a bad or unworthy person. Are we not all filled with mistakes from our past, in our present and will yet make in our future? As we recognise, in our hearts, in our being, not just in our head and mind, that we are not bad, that yes, we may have done something not so good, the shame begins to diminish. Something happens inside us, that allows us to move through the shame and onwards towards change, to a new ending.

It is not so much about being faultless. Can we ever be? Is it not rather about our becoming, our changing, so we can “write a brave new ending” – whatever that ending will be?

Your ending will not be the same as my ending. Our endings may intersect, but we each will have our own ending.

Though, I wonder a little at describing this change as a “new ending“, brave or otherwise. Can we ever know our ending? I’d personally rewrite Beren’s sentence as:

“When we own our stories, we get to write a brave new beginning.”

The Art of Asking, Changing and Becoming Me

I love having a bath. At least, usually, once a week I take a bath. Generally I soak for at least an hour. During which I may read, meditate, ponder, dream, imagine, pray, visualise, compose poetry. Being secluded brings more ideas and feelings, than come at other times. Which is where a large part of this entry comes from.

I’ve not blogged very frequently the past year or so. A while ago I changed the blog title thinking it would prompt more entries. It has had the opposite result. There have been things to blog, yet as they didn’t seem directly related to counselling I’ve not made them. So today I’m changing the blog title again. Now it will simply be “The Art of Becoming Me – Neil”. Or perhaps, “The Art of Becoming Me”, or maybe “The Art of Becoming Neil”? Or even “The Art of Becoming… ”

The idea being the door is open to blog about anything, not feeling limited to purely counselling matters.

There is always though an overlap. Being a person-centred counsellor embraces all I am. Being more open about everything, is consistent with the concept of congruence, one of the three primary qualities of a person-centred counsellor – unconditional positive regard, empathy and congruence – ideals I aspire to each day. Aspire to, yet no doubt never completely reach. A line from Amanda Palmer’s book “The Art of Asking”, my bath reading, fits here, about the purpose of life being for:


I didn’t take note, at the time of reading. Note taking not too easy in the bath 😇 If I later find it I’ll edit this post to add an exact quote here.

A lot of thoughts have risen from the book. Recommend it.


Can the essence of the book be summed up in a word? Perhaps, connection is one word I’d choose. Another, vulnerability. Trust and faith are others. And of course, asking:

Some days it’s your turn to ask
“Some days it’s your turn to be asked

     “Asking for help requires authenticity, and vulnerability.
     Those who ask without fear learn to say two things, with or without words, to those they are facing:
     I deserve to ask
     You are welcome to say no.
     Because the ask that is conditional cannot be a gift.”

Some other words or phrases that stand out for me:

“Conditional love is:
     I will only love you if you love me.
     Unconditional love is:
     I will love you even if you do not love me.
     It’s really easy to love passing strangers unconditionally.
     They demand nothing of you.
     It is really hard to love people unconditionally when they can hurt you.”

“You can never give people what they want, Anthony said.
     What do you mean?
     We were lying by the side of Walden Pond in Concord, two towns from Lexington, where we’d crested a ritual of ambling around the circumference of the water, then lazing under the trees with a picnic for a nice long grok.
     People always want something from you, he said. Your time. Your love. Your money. For you to agree with them and their politics, their point of view. And you can’t ever give them what they want. But you —–
     That’s a dreary worldview.
     Let me finish clown. You can’t ever give people what they want. But you can give them something else. You can give them empathy. You can give them understanding. And that’s a lot, and enough to give.

On their own the words quoted above may not mean much. Read the book and hopefully they will. You will no doubt take different things from it than I did. And that is okay. And perhaps that’s another principle, idea, concept, of the book – difference is okay.

Not everyone will like Amanda’s writing style. If you have read and valued Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly”, then the ideas in “The Art of Asking” should resonate with you.

Brené Brown at the Up Experience 2009

Another amazing presentation by Brené Brown. Shame – something we all (women and men) have, but don’t want to talk about. Worth 24 minutes and 45 seconds of your time.

Brené Brown: The power of vulnerability

Last week I posted the video of Brené Brown: Listening to shame, saying I would post her other video, on vulnerability. As mentioned this video was recorded in 2010, whereas the “shame” one was recorded earlier this year. So here it is:

Interestingly it was also posted on the following person-centred forum:

However, I first came across it from a Linkedin group:

I find both videos enlightening, to the extent that last week I purchased Brené’s book: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to be and Embrace Who You are. This can be a very scary thing to do. In a short summary, it is having empathy, unconditional positive regard and congruence toward and for ourselves. In other words accepting and loving who we are. Not necessarily being content but acknowledging where we are and NOT destroying ourselves because we’re not perfect. For many, many people this can be very hard to do, particularly for members of the LDS Church, with an ideal of being perfect. This is not the place for a theological discussion on the subject, expect perhaps to say that while there may be a goal for perfection, it is often sought inappropriately, leaving people with immense guilt and stress which is avoidable. For me this comes back to Carl Rogers statement, shown on the right and side of this page: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Brené’s book gives ideas on how to come to terms with where we are. An interesting part is her take on love:

“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.” (bold highlight added by myself).

The question, for me, that seems to flow through the book, so far, is: how can I love you, if I do not really love myself? Also, how I can really accept your love, if I do not love myself?

Post edited at 18:30 GMT.

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