The final guidepost to letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embracing who you are is cultivating laughter, song and dance and letting go of being cool and always in control. What a great one to finish with!
Laughter, singing and dancing all move us into embodiment and connect us with the breath. A deep, full on belly laugh that is a bit out of control is one of the ways to complete the stress response and reset the nervous system into ‘safe’ mode – as in ‘you are safe here, you can relax and turn off the alert system’. Snorting is optional, I guess, but it does put us also into the playful space of embracing absurdity (from the post on play). When you are relaxed enough to snort with people, you know that you truly feel safe and free to be yourself because snorting ins’t cool in the way that Brene uses this word.
In reality, being cool isn’t cool.
The kind of cool Brene talks about is more truly an expression of anxiety about what other people will think of you. Cool is an image of ‘I have it all together’ and ‘I’m keeping myself slightly apart from those who don’t have it all together’.
Cool is therefore ready to judge others for not being ‘together enough’, and at the same time, cool is fearful of judgement, and it’s living in other people’s eyes, which means you are always vulnerable to criticism and condemnation. Some people look like they are effortlessly cool, but it’s not so. Anyone who is cool like this is holding themselves tightly to an image which is only a fragile force field shield and takes a huge amount of energy to maintain. You may not think that you do this, because you aren’t cool like…The Fonz. (I had a bit of a chuckle when Brene identified The Fonz as an icon of cool, because while that is a reference I get, it’s pretty dated.)
So maybe you don’t feel like you have a cool image you are working to maintain. You don’t spend ages doing your hair or choosing what to wear and you aren’t aware of being overly concerned with how others perceive you – but consider this:
How comfortable are you with singing and dancing? These are both activities that make us highly vulnerable to judgement and threaten an image of competence and got-it-togetherness. Your voice is an expression of your unique self, and you may have been told that you ‘can’t sing’ or that your voice is thin/weak/off-key. Singing in a group can still catch you out if you start too soon, hang on too long or miss a rest in between notes.
Even if you sing well, there is still vulnerability in singing – missing the note (when you should have hit it), hashing the harmony, getting the rhythm wrong, being too loud, being upstaged by someone who is better or even just liking music that someone else considers inferior.
Dancing is essentially a full body vulnerability experience, and if it’s not approached with humour, joy and freedom then judgement – or fear of judgement – can feel crushing.
You may not feel like singing and dancing are that important, but the thing is that through the centuries and across cultures we tell our stories, we celebrate and mourn, we grow together through shared laughter, song and dance. And we’re going to miss out if we hold back because we are afraid and hiding behind being too cool to join in. You will miss out, for sure, but WE also miss out. We miss your voice, we miss your humour and your authentic joy and delight which adds to our own. We miss what you bring with your expression of your story and how it moves you – quite literally.
What is your sense of how or when you might protect yourself by holding back out of fear of being judged by others? Where does that fear come from and how might you begin to bring your sense of worth back inside so that you can hold it steady rather than looking for others to validate you?
What tools do you have to soothe the anxiety and fear which accompany the vulnerability of singing and dancing?
Pause and reflect with Scripture
There’s lots of dancing in the Hebrew Scriptures, and this one story has always struck me as significant…Read the passage through two or three times and then pause to allow the scene to play out in your imagination, adding sensory elements like heat, sounds, smell, the energy of the crowd and the momentous significance of this event.
So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing; and when those who bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling. David danced before the Lord with all his might; David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet.
As the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul looked out of the window, and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.2 Samuel 6:12b-16
What does the image of the uncool, wildly ecstatic dancing king stir in you? And how do you relate to Michal’s scorn as she distances herself from this spectacle and later attempts to shame David for his action? Have you been in these shoes, and what was that like for you?
Brene mentions how much she enjoys making playlists as a soundtrack for her life. She has lists to fit her mood, including ‘God on the ipod’, ‘run like you mean it’ and ‘Authentic Me’. Make yourself a playlist and sing along in the shower or play it in the car, wind down the windows and belt it out! Or, you know, sing quietly under your breath as you work up courage….
This guy cracks me up with his goofy dancing all over the world…. and he’s joined by ordinary folks in the street who are not dancers – what does it inspire in you?
You can do this at home. And you know you want to.
Time for a laugh
Do you often take time to enjoy something funny? Are there people who help you to lighten up, to take life and yourself less seriously? How might you plan to include more laughter in your life, or seek ways to take a giggle break in your day?
I came across this on instagram the other day, and I watched it about five times in a row….now every time I think of it, it still makes me laugh.