I just took Brene Brown’s Gifts of Imperfection course through Oprah’s Lifeclass. Brene Brown researches shame and speaks and writes about it as well as imperfection, and what she calls wholehearted living. I highly recommend her TED talk, and her audio program The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Connection, and Courage, an audio recording of her speaking to a group of people about her work. Not only is it enlightening but it’s also entertaining.

One of the sections of the Oprah class is titled Cultivating a Resilient Spirit – Letting Go of Numbness and Powerlessness. This was really interesting because as part of the work for that week we had to look at what causes us to numb (sources of stress, anxiety, pain, etc.), how we numb (alcohol, food, TV, etc.), and what actually brings us comfort.

photo-3My favorite part was the comfort list. This is a list of things that actually bring you comfort or make you feel better rather than dull or numb the feelings that you don’t want to feel. Once I made my list, I realized I actually do none of these things when I have the urge to numb and yet the list is so simple and easy to follow. (Don’t laugh at my drawings, it’s an art journaling class and I’m going with it.) I wrote down my favorite things to do for me. Getting up early. Going to the beach. Making things. Relaxing. Having an adventure. Those things actually make me feel better. Brene Brown emphasizes that we don’t get to selectively numb the negative feelings so we also end up numbing the good ones like joy, happiness, excitement, and wonder. There’s a bigger price to numbing than I realized. Yes, it’s nice to take the edge off stress and anxiety but is it worth diminishing feelings of joy and happiness? 

I am grateful for having done the exercise and having new perspective and tools for taking care of myself. I’ve poured myself a glass of wine, while screaming children pull at my legs, and asked myself, are you numbing right now? And the answer has been yes, and I was okay with that. My choice. But I’ve also turned to my comfort list instead and it’s, well…comforting. After all, the class is titled the Gifts of Imperfection. I’m happy with better choices more often.