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Posts tagged compassion
Ya F E E L me?

Now on to the second Great Untruth, as outlined in The Coddling of the American Mind (an amazing book I read and first mentioned in an earlier post):

Always trust your feelings.

[Note: This relates to your emotions, not your intuition.]

Don’t get me wrong, emotions are helpful. Emotions are valuable messengers, revealing what’s going on below the surface, in your subconscious. They illuminate unhealed/repressed/insecure/etc parts of your being.

However, it’s imperative you view them through the right mindset: tools to increase your self awareness and heal yourself. Means to make you even more of a BAMF (bad ass motha you know what). Doing so requires willingness and discipline. It can be all too easy to give in to your initial feelings of anger/envy/contempt/fear/etc. But nope - be stronger than that.

If someone says something says something that rubs you the wrong way, or triggers feelings as resentment or rage, ask yourself:

  • Could I possibly have misperceived their words/intent?

    • Maybe I misheard them, or misunderstood them. Maybe they misspoke, thereby concealing their true [pure!] intent. Did they offend you unintentionally? [Have come across the wrong way? I know I have!] Try not to assume!

  • What can you glean from your emotional reaction?

    • Why did it affect you so strongly, in that way? Did it hit a nerve with you based on some past slight, of which the person is unaware? If so, this is a great opportunity to resolve the issue(s) within yourself

Do yourself - and others - a favor by going that extra step to check your automatic emotional reaction. If you operate off pure [initial] emotion, you’re limiting your self/interactions/connections and dooming yourself to a life of victimization, hurt, anxiety, and ostracism - regardless if these emotions are justified.

And so what if they are justified?

What if the person actually was intending offense? By reacting hostilely and lashing out (as tempting as it can be), you only deepen the divide and nurture the status quo.

Again, try to avoid assumption. If something rubs you the wrong way, respectfully acknowledge your possible misperception. This allows them: 1. an opportunity to clarify; 2. an opportunity to learn and see how their words/reasoning could be misconstrued and negatively impact others. (Wouldn’t you appreciate the same opportunity, if roles were reversed?) This likely heightens their awareness, thereby hopefully bridging the gap, lessening those divisive lines, and decreasing the likelihood of it happening again, to you or someone else. And maybe they stand by their assertion and maintain their racist/sexist/homophobic/ etc intent and view. It is what it is.

At least by responding with love and respect you can rest assured you’re not contributing to the problem. You can hold your head high knowing that by choosing to respond with love, you’re doing your part to soften the divide. And don’t get me wrong - sometimes you need to show a little fire to emphasize your point; but if you’re all flame and fury, you’re only exacerbating the situation.

A great principle to live your life by is the principle of charity: interpret others’ statements in their best, most reasonable form, not in the worst or most offensive way possible. The ease with which you do this shows how solid within yourself you are. If it’s still challenging - time for some self reflection, amigo.

And while you’re self assessing, try not to label emotions as negative or positive - they’re just emotions! Like, I said, they’re tools to help you become happier, healthier, and stronger. Means by which to become S O L I D.



Choose not to be harmed - and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed - and you haven’t been.
— Marcus Aurelius

I’m a big fan of stoicism and Marcus Aurelius.

Don’t let others control your mind and cortisol levels. There will ALWAYS be offenses and offensive content (especially online!). Good news! It’s not up to you to right every [perceived] wrong, and school those with whom you disagree. (How easy would it be for them to change your mind? It’d likely be just as tough to change theirs.) As we strive to lessen hatred and heal divisions, we must all pick our battles and ignore some of what we see, and just carry on with our day - if only for your own sanity’s sake!

Shine on, babes.

xx,

-w-





Copy of d a r k . 2. L I G H T
Concept and images by me  Model: Byron Hunt

Concept and images by me

Model: Byron Hunt

I don’t live in darkness. Darkness lives in me.

We’ve all faced darkness. Sure, some more than others but we’ve all been there, experiencing it ourselves/encountering it in others.

We’ve also all experienced challenges and struggles; again, to varying degrees.

It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you have in your bank account. It doesn’t matter if your social life is poppin’ or if your abs pop. Darkness is equal opportunity. It affects people of all classes, of all races, of all backgrounds.

Some people have enough inner light to repel it. Yeah, they might feel down and out for a bit, but ultimately, the light triumphs. Glow baby glow.

For some people, the darkness permeates, and sometimes it’s harder to shake.

It doesn’t matter what your experiences are - being a human can be tough stuff! Just as we’re advised not to compare our highlight reels - we also should avoid comparing our “lowlight reels” so to speak. Our behind the scenes. Our challenges and obstacles. Our sucker punches life throws us.

We’re all on different journeys, with different psyches and pasts and mindsets and cumulative experiences. Maybe you’re a single parent eking out a life for yourself and your young. Maybe you’re a cancer patient fighting to keep a smile on your face and a resolve in your heart. Maybe you’re a teenager navigating your way in a world of bullies and heartbreaks. Or maybe you have a fantastic life by all general standards yet still feel empty.

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How beautiful is the relationship between the moon and the dark night sky. So contrasting, yet so incomplete without each other.

It’s all hard!! Try not to compare your “hard” and try not to feel guilty for feeling knocked down by life sometimes.

Just accept! Accept your emotions. The more you deny yourself feeling them, the stronger they become. As they say, what you resist, persists.

Life offers ebbs and flows. Peaks and valleys. No two experiences are the same - even within your own life! It depends on your current mental/emotional state.

Think about it - sometimes an issue that would normally knock you on your face barely fazes you, while other times, merely dropping a pen can elicit instant rage and a “F M L!!!!!!!!!!”

And the comparison can flow the other way too! Try not to diminish/discredit others’ experiences. Just because someone hasn’t confronted the same quantity/quality of challenges as you doesn’t mean their life is easier. Like I said, it depends on their current mental/emotional state, which depends on multiple factors: their upbringing, their relationships, their health, etc. Shoot, even their current spot on the hanger scale! We truly have NO idea what people are working with and feeling. So let’s all hug - or at least high five - one another - and show kindness and empathy.

It fascinates me how we all have inner worlds to which no one else is privy. Every time I pass someone on the street, I want to know their story: challenges they’ve overcome, accomplishments they’ve achieved, etc. WE ALL HAVE STORIES.

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I myself have experienced my own share of darkness. I’m definitely an empath, so when i feel, I friggin’ F E E L. And I take on other people’s energies/emotions. This sensitivity is both a benefit and a drawback. I appreciate it because it allows me to relate to and care for people on a whole other level (you fellow empaths can relate!), but it also gets me down and stresses me out. I feel the injustices of the world so acutely, particularly as they apply to others. Almost always, when I’m bumming/stressing, it’s on another’s behalf.

I’m still working on setting the boundaries for worrying about others, but as far as my personal darkness - my tried and true method for banishing the blues and maintaining a lasting zest for life - no matter my current situation - is facing it. Not denying it, or fleeing it, or resisting it. Leaning into it. Analyzing it. Letting others in. I’m a big advocate for therapy (and if you’ve tried therapy but didn’t connect with your therapist - keep looking! Vibing with your therapist is key).

And finally, be G R A T E F U L. Gratitude is deceptively powerful. So simple, so cliche…yet SO TRANSFORMATIVE. It truly makes all the difference. It may take significant effort initially to adopt an appreciative mindset. It’s a muscle you must strengthen, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.

My trick is whenever I encounter a sucky situation or draining emotion, I think of three things for which I’m thankful. It’s straight MAGIC. It kicks those good vibes into gear and lights you right up.

No, really. Try it.

I also think of three ways the situation could be worse - and THAT also is profoundly effective. Suddenly, you’re feeling pretty dang good about your current status.

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To deny your broken bits is doing yourself a great deal of injustice. It is the broken parts of you that grew you the most.

You’ve heard it before but that’s because it’s da TRUTH: Every challenge/obstacle/hardship you face is a b l e s s i n g. It’s an opportunity to grow and evolve. To get smarter, stronger, and better. To relate to others and inform your future experiences.

Acknowledge, accept, and honor your challenges. Be grateful for them, for they’re specifically what you need to evolve. Customized launch pads to strength, success, and wisdom.

xx,

-w-

*This post is not meant to discredit the use of psychotropics. Take control of your own health and please also consider consulting a psychiatrist/other mental health professional if necessary!











l i s t e n UP
Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Images by Brooke Richardson Photography

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.
— Winston Churchill

Listening is a superpower.

How many conversations have you had where the other person dominates the conversation and you leave thinking, “I know allll about their latest vacation/hobby/issue, but they know nothing about my life as of late?

Not so fulfilling.

On the flip side, have you ever had someone invest their total time and attention in you, and you walk away feeling heard and respected?

Mega fulfilling.

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Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.
— David Augsburger

To listen well, try pausing before disagreeing, or giving advice, or referencing your own experience. Sure, doing these other actions can be useful, but listening is paramount. Assess the need for the other actions. Listening is the priority, and the others should merely complement and support.

Active listening is encouraged! Some ways to actively listen:

  • Nod

  • Make eye contact

  • Lean forward

  • Supply (genuine!) verbal affirmations like “Sure”/“Thank you”/“I understand”

  • Paraphrase

The first duty of love is to listen.
— Paul Tillich
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Something I struggle with is interrupting - I’m constantly aware of and working on this with myself. My interrupting does come from a good place, however. I interrupt not because I deem what I have to say superior, but because I get so stoked on what the other is saying and it’s my way of “actively listening.” Showing I’m engaged and invested. This can easily be misperceived, though (and can be downright O B N O X I O U S and distracting) so I strive to minimize (and ultimately eliminate) my insertions. I always notice and appreciate when someone pays me the respect of attentively listening sans interruptions - my friends are brilliant at it.

If you want to be listened to, you should put in time listening.

And if you find yourself rattling on because you feel socially awkward and unsure of what to speak about - and talking about yourself is your default because you are your most familiar topic - there’s a win/win solution for that! A simple hack is to provide a bit of information about yourself (eg “I’m so pumped for skiing this year”) and then turning it to the other person(s) (eg “Do you ski or board?”). Prefacing with a fact about yourself makes it easy and effective for multiple reasons:

  • Contributes a familiar topic to work with and solves the problem of where to start

  • Makes you relatable and breaks the ice for the other person to share

  • Allows an opportunity to segue into related topics

  • Lets you off the hook from carrying the conversation, as many people like talking about themselves (for whatever reason - like you, they are most well-versed themselves/they have something to say/etc)

  • It establishes a natural flow

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Be a good listener. Your ears will never get you in trouble.
— Frank Tyger

What about those situations where people confide a heartbreak or challenge or stressor they’re facing? Don’t knock yourself out trying to come up with the perfect response/solution. Unless they expressly ask you, “What should I do?” more often than not, people simply crave a listening ear. Receiving their words with empathy and love is far more powerful than the wisest and timeliest response. Simply holding that space for them and allowing them to vent and feel their emotions can make all the difference and be more beneficial than “solving” their problem.

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
— Rachel Naomi Remen

If silence unnerves you, try to learn to be comfortable with it. Don’t rush to finish the other’s faltering sentence, or fill the gaps. This isn’t about you/your comfort - it’s about them. Allowing them the space to express themselves. Or just sit in supportive silence; simply your presence may suffice.

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.
— Larry King
When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.
— Dalai Lama

I firmly believe we all have something to learn from one another (even if it’s how to have patience!). Running your mouth about what you know is definitely not the way to go about obtaining that knowledge from others. Even (or especially!) when you think you’re an expert on a topic - you’ll likely be surprised what you gain if you’re humble enough to sit back and listen/observe another’s perception regarding it. Maybe you’ll glean a different angle you hadn’t considered. This is where an open mind is K E Y. Try listening to learn, rather than listening to confirm [your current opinion]. At the very least, hearing the other side out will only strengthen your own position.

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Removing your ego from the equation is crucial. Resist the temptation to flex and download all you know. There is ALWAYS more to learn. The minute you deem yourself a know-it-all is the precise minute you need to assess yourself, because that’s a sure sign your ego has hijacked you and stunted your growth. So tell your ego to buzz off and listen even harder.

The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering. Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life.
— Jaggi Vasudev
Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
— Jimi Hendrix

And in those heated moments where you’re battling with another and spinning your wheels in conflicted frustration, the best way to defuse the situation is to take a deep breath, step back, and…L I S T E N. Truly listen. Not only will this likely disarm your “contender,” but this simple action shows you value and respect them enough to consider their view. That right there has far-reaching effects. It shifts your approach from a place of one-sided triumph and win-lose to a place of resolution and win-win. It’s a clear reflection of your respect for them and conveys your willingness to remedy the situation and meet them halfway. It can make ALL the difference.

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Listening is a very deep practice... You have to empty yourself. You have to leave space in order to listen...especially to people we think are our enemies - the ones we believe are making our situation worse.

When you have shown your capacity for listening and understanding, the other person will begin to listen to you, and you have a chance to tell him or her of your pain, and it’s your turn to be heard. This is the practice of peace.
— Thich Nhat Hanh

This is especially important when you’re feeling triggered. How many times have you been blinded by emotions/anger, then realize you misheard/misperceived the other? I know I have. Much can be lost in communication - for a number of reasons. Consider you might’ve misunderstood/assumed/pre-concluded. Hear the other out (this is where gentle paraphrasing is especially helpful!) to ensure you’re catching what they’re throwing.

And sometimes the other person won’t pay you the same respect of listening to you. It is what it is. It’s annoying as hell, sure, but you can only control yourself. Rest assured you did what you could to resolve the matter. When that happens, my tried-and-true remedy involves time and distance (and my Scream Spotify playlist I created to express the fire I feel; Body Combat also helps! ;) ).

Happy listening.

xx,

-w-



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INTO the W I L D
Images by Whitney Richardson Photography'  Models: Liz Smith and Shaely Howell

Images by Whitney Richardson Photography'

Models: Liz Smith and Shaely Howell

They won’t tell you fairytales
of how girls can be dangerous and still win.
They will only tell you stories
where girls are sweet and kind
and reject all sin.
I guess to them
it’s a terrifying thought,
a red riding hood
who knew exactly
what she was doing
when she invited the wild in.
— Nikita Gill
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What a time to be alive. Regardless of where you fall on the feminism spectrum, it’s undeniable that women are having a moment and reclaiming their power.

We’re learning to stop apologizing for our emotions and empathy. Our nurturing and softness. Everything that makes us uniquely feminine but which is deemed “unsuitable” or “unprofessional” in the workplace. We’re challenging the double standards imposed upon us, and asserting our voice.

good women can be wild too
— r.h. sin

We’re also reviving our wild side. Our intensity. Our power and ferocity. Our strength and passion.

It’s not just a revolution for feminine energy. Masculinity is experiencing a significant shift as well.

With nature comes balance. Therefore every man has feminine energy, and every woman has masculine energy. Society is currently undergoing deconstruction and reconstruction of what it means to be a man or woman. Paradigms are changing. Lines are being questioned and redrawn as the framework is being renovated.

Men are humans just as much as women, and all humans experience emotions. It is unfair and destructive to deny men the social latitude for expressing their emotions.

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There is no competition among wild women. They are too damn wild to be caught in a tiny space of envy. Instead, they dance together and allow good to flow abundantly to them.

We’re shattering notions of what is “socially acceptable” for men AND women. It’s beautiful and LONG overdue.

While listening to one of my favorite podcasters, Aubrey Marcus, I came across the following poem, which resonated deeply with me.




A wild woman is not a girlfriend. She is a relationship with nature by Alison Nappi

But can you love me in the deep? In the dark? In the thick of it?

Can you love me when I drink from the wrong bottle and slip through the crack in the floorboard?

Can you love me when I’m bigger than you, when my presence blazes like the sun does, when it hurts to look directly at me?

Can you love me then too?

Can you love me under the starry sky, shaved and smooth, my skin like liquid moonlight?

Can you love me when I am howling and furry, standing on my haunches, my lower lip stained with the blood of my last kill?

When I call down the lightning, when the sidewalks are singed by the soles of my feet, can you still love me then?


What happens when I freeze the land, and cause the dirt to harden over all the pomegranate seeds we’ve planted?

Will you trust that Spring will return?

Will you still believe me when I tell you I will become a raging river, and spill myself upon your dreams and call them to the surface of your life?

Can you trust me, even though you cannot tame me?

Can you love me, even though I am all that you fear and admire?

Will you fear my shifting shape?

Does it frighten you, when my eyes flash like your camera does?

Do you fear they will capture your soul?

Are you afraid to step into me?

The meat-eating plants and flowers armed with poisonous darts are not in my jungle to stop you from coming. Not you.

So do not worry. They belong to me, and I have invited you here.

Stay to the path revealed in the moonlight and arrive safely to the hut of Baba Yaga: the wild old wise one… she will not lead you astray if you are pure of heart.

You cannot be with the wild one if you fear the rumbling of the ground, the roar of a cascading river, the startling clap of thunder in the sky.

If you want to be safe, go back to your tiny room — the night sky is not for you.

If you want to be torn apart, come in. Be broken open and devoured. Be set ablaze in my fire.

I will not leave you as you have come: well dressed, in finely-threaded sweaters that keep out the cold.

I will leave you naked and biting. Leave you clawing at the sheets. Leave you surrounded by owls and hawks and flowers that only bloom when no one is watching.

So, come to me, and be healed in the unbearable lightness and darkness of all that you are.

There is nothing in you that can scare me. Nothing in you I will not use to make you great.

A wild woman is not a girlfriend. She is a relationship with nature. She is the source of all your primal desires, and she is the wild whipping wind that uproots the poisonous corn stalks on your neatly tilled farm.

She will plant pear trees in the wake of your disaster.

She will see to it that you shall rise again.

She is the lover who restores you to your own wild nature.


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Aubrey responds by crafting his own poem:

 A wild man is not a boyfriend, he is a force

Can you love me in the blinding heat of a birthing star, when I shower warmth on distant moons?

Can you love me in the hole of the cosmic Black, where no one can reach me? Not even you?

Can you love me then too?

Can you love me when I drag buffalo skulls through the dirt for days, to the rhythm of an ancient drum?

Will you love me if my beard hides the scars in my heart, from battles I cannot explain?

WIll you love me when I lack courage, when I am defeated, when I won't let you patch my wounds?

WIll you trust me when I smell of sweetgrass and sage, and when I stink of whiskey and sweat?

When I drink from the cup and play in astral light, will you anchor me to Home?

What happens when my words don't work, and I can speak with only my eyes?

Can you love me enough to let me go, without asking me where I'll be?

I am no poodle to lay groomed on a leash at your feet. I am the wolf that fetches the bones of truth.

A wild man is not a boyfriend. He's not built for animal husbandry. He is a force. He is a cause for an effect. He is a mission.

Are you afraid to let me inside you? Not just my flesh, but my soul. The wild man is neither burglar or vandal. I will not take anything from you. I will not trample on sprouting seeds or pick flowers as a trophy. I am the sun on flooded fields and the fire for tangled webs.

Don't be scared, lover, mother, maiden, crone. Take me as I am.

Even if I have the power to destroy worlds, I will not destroy you.

A wild man is a protector. A father. A warrior for all that is good.

When the chaos seeks to obliterate you, sheering your flesh from bone, I will hold all the pieces together in love, until you are ready to reassemble.

When your seas boil, and your winds throw cars at corn fields, I will wait patiently for you to catch my eye, so that both of us can laugh.

When Hell opens up the fiery gates, and sends all the cosmos against you, I plant my heels deep in the ground. I lay my shield low. My sword is sharp then, my love. The steel sings sweetly. With a smile, Hoka Hey! My last breath a farewell kiss. Today is a good day to die.

For ours is the oldest love affair. The greatest story ever told. Cupid and Psyche, Shiva and Shakti, You and I.

Same same but different. Would we have it any other way?

A wild man is not a boyfriend. He is a force.


Regardless of your current thoughts, opinions, and identification with these writings, the main takeaway is to accept yourself (and others!) in A L L of your glory. Embrace both your light and shadows. Celebrate all of your dimensions. Don’t shrink yourself to fit society. Live your truth and shine your light, thereby blazing the trail for others.

(Podcast link: https://www.aubreymarcus.com/blogs/aubrey-marcus/the-wild-woman-and-the-wild-man-with-christine-hassler-amp-176 )

(Suggested reading: The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes)

xx,

-w-

A woman in harmony with her Spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense...and arrives at her destination, prepared to be herself and only herself.
— Maya Angelou
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B O U N D A R I E S
Images by Whitney Richardson Photography  Models Chelsie Conger (@xochelsieco) and Todd Conger (@toddvanclair)

Images by Whitney Richardson Photography

Models Chelsie Conger (@xochelsieco) and Todd Conger (@toddvanclair)

“Compassion does not exist without boundaries.”

When I first heard this statement from the incredible Brene Brown, I remember feeling surprised and incredulous. Say what? What did boundaries have to do with compassion? It seemed like the most compassionate and empathetic people were “boundless” with their compassion and empathy.

Upon hearing Brene out, I was in full agreement with her assertion. Sing it, sister.

Brene notes she was also shocked to discover her research revealed the most compassionate people were the most boundaried. She defines boundaries as parameters for what is and is not okay.

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According to Brene, establishing solid, defined, firm boundaries allows us to be compassionate and empathetic but not resentful. This is key! Having those boundaries prevents us from feeling drained, taken advantage of, and unappreciated.

Think about it! Tell me if the following scenario sounds similar to something you’ve experienced:

Someone asks you for a favor. Maybe it’s baby-sitting their kids, or lending your tool. You agree, only to have them stay out two hours past their expected return time, or totally trash your tool.

NOT OKAY.

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If you’re not straightforward about your boundaries, including acknowledging when someone crosses them, this will affect your capacity for compassion in the moment. Whether you realize it or not, it affects you. Even by justifying their actions (“Oh, they’re just stressed - they needed some extra time” or “That’s okay, things are just things”) you repress your true emotions that naturally arise from having boundaries crossed. And repressed emotions don’t just magically melt away. No, that shiz stays with you and manifests itself eventually, and never in a good way. If you repeatedly repress emotions, they just fester and snowball. Notttt a good situation. You’ll likely experience physical AND mental AND emotional symptoms as a result.

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So do both yourself and others a favor by speaking your truth. Define your boundaries. Let others know what is and is not okay. There’s no need to be abrasive and aggressive about it; you can be gentle yet firm.

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Brene also offers the question: What if rather than trying to anger you/hurt you/use you/etc, people are doing the best they can? She shares her husband’s beautiful response powerful response to the question:

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I’ll never know whether people are doing the best they can or not, but when I assume people are, it makes my life better.

Brene avers now she is not as sweet as she used to be, but she is far more loving. She states her question is B I G: What boundaries need to be in place for me to stay in my integrity to make the most generous assumptions about you?

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Brene declares generosity can’t exist without boundaries, but acknowledges boundaries are not easy. We want people to like us/we don’t to disappoint people/etc. Brene asserts boundaries are the key not only to self love, but to treating others with loving kindness.

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Nothing is sustainable without boundaries.
— Brene Brown
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If you’ve done your work and set your boundaries, your empathy is infinite.



xx,

-w-

Compassion minus boundaries is not genuine.
— Brene Brown
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