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How to get free internally

As June ends alongside our Juneteenth celebrations, I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom, though not in the traditional sense. Moreso, I’m invested in mental and emotional freedom, and I’ve been in deep reflection about the thoughts and narratives that keep me from accessing it. Truth is, we all have habits and mindsets that keep us cuffed to the past or stagnant in the present. In this season, I choose to break free, and I’ve been receiving several messages about how to do this.

#1 Build shame resilience

I’m currently reading The Gifts of imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. I cannot begin to explain how timely and necessary this book is for me. As a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser, I have been guided by fear and shame for much of my life out of concern for what others will say or think. Additionally, my religious upbringing has led to a very shameful relationship with owning all aspects of myself because I felt like I had to hide or suppress certain parts of me. In the book, Brown shows us how to enter the world from a place of love, belonging and worthiness. She breaks down how love and belonging require vulnerability and authenticity. When we embrace this truth, we open the door for genuine connection.

On the contrary, Brown is very honest about how shame, blame, disrespect, etc., “damage the roots from which love grows.” Because of this we have to build shame resilience. It’s the practice of acknowledging when we are experiencing shame, finding someone to talk to about it, and owning our truth in the midst of it. The people who cause us to feel shame, are not the ones we go to to build resilience. While they may have good intentions, they are causing disconnection and preventing us from embracing our own journeys. We build shame resilience by engaging in practices and investing in loved ones who provide space for us to be our truest most vulnerable selves. They can give advice and hold us accountable without making us feel like there’s only one way to live. Everyone’s path is different and that’s okay. Find people who share this truth and build with them.

Tyler James Teamwork Gif by ABC Network

#2 Engage in radical self-love

As someone whose self-care journey started years ago, I thought I had a pretty good gauge on this, but the two are very different. We can care for ourselves without loving ourselves (let alone doing so radically).

This concept of radical self-love is very new to me, but I’ve been exploring it most recently in the audiobook The Body Is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor. She explains how radical self-love is much more than self-esteem, self-confidence, or self-acceptance (and I would add self-care activities) because we can have those things and still not fully love ourselves non-judgmentally. Taylor explains how radical self-love reorients our experience and pushes our world in the direction of justice and compassion. Moreover, my own spiritual journey is showing me the grace that comes with true love. It’s not something we have to earn; it’s the process and practice of seeing yourself and those around you as worthy and deserving. With radical self-love we embrace what is and what’s possible, and we extend this love, grace and understanding to those around us.

I think we can all take a moment to consider the last time we extended ourselves compassion and grace. How often do we extend it to those we love? I’m not finished reading Taylor's book, but I would say this self-evaluation is a good place to begin our radical self-love journey.

MTV Puzzle by IntoAction

#3: Do something that scares you (regularly)

This last one is a challenge I’m putting out to myself and extending to you. Every weekday, or at least three times a week, I want to do something that stretches or scares me. If I truly want to develop into the best version of myself, learn to build shame resilience, and engage in radical self love, what better way to do it than to regularly partake in things that make me uncomfortable?

If I’m scared or not good at something, I have to extend myself grace, accept my imperfections, and find the courage to keep going. This is how we grow. This is also how we free ourselves from the internal constraints that keep us bound. This is the mindset I’m carrying with me into the third quarter of the year. I’ll let you know how it goes, and I'd love to hear about your journey as well.

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