Although I am apparently one, in reality they are always two-in-one. What is thinking, if not dialogue with oneself? This silent speaking between us and us is, according to Socrates, the condition of possibility of dialogue with others. Understanding this means understanding how important it is not to ruin the intimate relationship that everyone has with their own self. To be honest, however, it is a far from simple task: when we go home, exhausted for a long day of work, we find ourselves alone with this annoying companion, who can’t wait to analyze and judge each of our single action and behavior.
So, it often happens that, taken from the daily frenzy, we begin to decline that evening appointment. How are we able to do this? Simply, avoiding loneliness, surrounding ourselves with people or getting lost in the plot of a romantic comedy. During the lockdown, however, escaping the encounter with himself was almost impossible and perhaps, from this point of view, the isolation brought unexpected positive aspects, helping some of us to meet again.
In the days of quarantine, to combat boredom, I downloaded an application to listen to audiobooks and, after a first moment of discomfort and compulsive zapping between one novel and another, I found myself casually listening to Brené Brown, author of The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, & Courage , whose verve immediately caught my attention.
At the idea of hearing about love, gratitude, fragility, not a few would raise their eyes to heaven. A few minutes of listening are enough, however, to change your mind and let the writer lead you to the discovery of the elements that make up a Wholehearted life .
But what is a Wholehearted life ? It is the extraordinary life of those who live and love with all their hearts, without reservations, unconditionally; of course, this is not an achievable destination, but an ideal, a star to aim for day after day. In an attempt to discover the secret of happiness, Brené went in search of men and women (aged 18 to 80, scattered throughout the American territory) who lead happy and exciting lives; from their interviews a series of “Things to do” and “Things not to do” emerged. For example, the former include “playing, loving, being authentic, being grateful”; to quench, however, the desire for “perfection, security, apathy, self-sufficiency”.
What must we do to feel satisfied and satisfied with our life?
First of all, it is better to give up the idea of a magic formula immediately: we will not see any change if we are not willing to get involved and exercise ourselves constantly.
So, let’s look closely at wholehearted people : what do they have in common? What values do they base on their existence?
- Courage. From the Latin cŏr, cŏrdis ‘heart’ and from the verb habere ‘to have’: to have heart, the ability to tell one’s story with all one’s heart, including dark sides, flaws, weaknesses;
- Connection. Courage leads to authenticity, which in turn, through compassion, makes it possible to establish sincere interpersonal bonds;
- Vulnerabilities. Behave and act in accordance with one’s true being, not fearing the judgment of others, open up to the possibilities by putting oneself at stake.
Living according to these three principles is not obvious or simple; showing imperfect is risky, but hiding is even more so. We note, especially in the new generations, a strong desire for perfection and independence, fomented by the (erroneous) belief that being impeccable, strong, self-sufficient, automatically leads to happiness.
Aiming for total independence from the other means to aspire to be immune to pain, that is, anaffective and unable to establish lasting relationships. Is it worth sacrificing who we are, bartering authenticity for safety, and then inevitably find ourselves experiencing anxiety, depression, addiction, anger, resentment, guilt?
Being vulnerable means saying “I love you” first, throwing yourself into a project without guarantees, investing in a relationship that could work as much as falling apart, asking for help in times of need, acting on the basis of one’s authenticity and not of the opinion of others . To be fragile, on closer inspection, is the most courageous and revolutionary choice that each of us can take. Give up any ideal of perfection, for yourself and for others, and run the risk of hurting, being hurt, but also of loving, and being loved: this is the essence of living with all your heart, this is the leap in the emptiness that Brené invites us to do.
And we have less to offer every time we find a new person, but to force ourselves not to try anything in order not to try something … what a waste.