Week 29: Embracing Your Limitations and Being Embraced by Your People [Loveable 030]

“To live from our soul—the great, powerful, divine thing at the center of us—is, paradoxically, to become aware of our dependence on other souls. When the bad stuff happens, it’s a chance to rely on the good stuff in other people. And the people who bring the good stuff are the people we belong to.”

We find our places of belonging when we ask for help. However, in order to feel safe, be independent, and appear strong, we resist asking. In other words, to ask for help is to invite belonging, but we don’t send enough invitations. In Episode 30 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about the limitations of our independence and the rewards of having the courage to ask for help. 

loveable podcast episode 30

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • True belonging may not be possible apart from the passing back and forth of grace.
  • The people we belong to are the people who show up in our time of need, no questions asked.
  • The people we belong to don’t show up for a crisis and then disappear; they linger, lovingly.
  • Asking for help earlier in a time of need lightens the burden on everyone involved. Ask early. Ask often.
  • Belonging is a paradox—it is the place where you feel safest, so it also becomes the place where you take the biggest and scariest risks.
  • Letting go of the people we wish we could belong to always feels like grief.
  • As we grow, our growth includes grace for those who aren’t growing at the same pace we are.

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Nothing Is at Stake

My eyes open, and I’m scared.

In two hours, I will be speaking at a Sunday morning service. I’ve come to love speaking, but this time, I’ll be speaking to a thousand people. In the round. I’m a clinical psychologist. I’m trained to speak to one person at a time. And the only thing I’ve ever done in the round is roast marshmallows on a camp fire. My eyes open and I worry about whether or not the technology will work, I worry about a hundred other things that might go wrong, but mostly I worry about this:

I worry that I won’t be good enough.

performance anxiety

Photo Credit: Dean Drobot (Bigstock)

I worry about blanking out and freezing up and goofing up, but mostly I worry that my performance simply won’t measure up. In other words, I worry because my sense of worthiness is too often rooted in what I do, rather than in who I am.

This is normal.

As a psychologist, I talk with teenagers about their identity all the time. They tell me their peers base their value in the stuff they have: iPhone Xs, cool cars, and name brand clothes, to name a few. But even more so, they base their value in the stuff they do and how well they do it, and they’ve got all sorts of ways to measure their worthiness in this regard: GPAs and college admissions, awards and rewards, SnapChat streaks and Instagram followers. These young people grow into adult people, and what is true of them remains true of us:

We base our sense of worthiness on our performance rather than our person.

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Week 28: Learning How to Take a Compliment [Loveable 029]

“Once upon a time, before our wounds and our world made us forget, we knew the good things about us were true. We believed them so thoroughly it didn’t hurt to hear them spoken to us.”

In Episode 29 of The Loveable Podcast, we focus on the art of receiving compliments. You see, for most of us, the problem is not that we are given no affirmation; the problem is that we have difficulty truly receiving the affirmations we are given. They roll off us, like water off a duck’s back. Here, we talk about how to absorb them, take them in, and allow them to remind us of our worthiness…

loveable podcast episode 29

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Loneliness cannot be eliminated, but it can be shared, and thus dissipated.
  • Certainty is a method for staving off feelings of loneliness, but it leaves us feeling more lonely than ever.
  • In our circles of belonging, we can trust compliments are sincere, because they’ve been preceded by sincere challenges.
  • Oftentimes, compliments challenge our perfectionism—we don’t believe we should receive them until our performance is perfect—but true compliments are not about our performance, they are about our person.
  • When someone affirms us, they are not telling us who we always are, they are telling us who we truly are.
  • Sometimes what is being said about us is truer than what is being said within us.
  • You can’t force belonging, you can only invite it, and every affirmation is an invitation.

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Week 27: The Essential Building Block of Belonging [Loveable 028]

“When our egos lose, our hearts win.”

In Episode 28 of The Loveable Podcast, we dive deep into the topic of empathy, including how essential it is for true belonging, and the five barriers to cultivating it and communicating it. It’s time to exchange protection for connection. It’s time to quit living from your ego and to start loving from your heart… 

loveable podcast episode 28

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • In places of true belonging, you do not necessarily agree with the opinions of others, but you do honor the personhood of others.
  • In order to cultivate true belonging, you must replace certainty with curiosity, because curiosity drives out all judgment.
  • Belonging is cultivated during the hard and messy times, and it is ultimately felt when that hard labor eventually produces fruit.
  • Empathy is a gift to the other, and the gift we receive in return is a growing sense of belonging.
  • Hurry is the enemy of empathy.
  • When empathy is used for protection rather than connection, it is called codependency.
  • Empathy creates space for pain to exist, without pressure to immediately fix it.

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Listening for Invisible Blessings

Tuesday morning.

I awake with loud ringing in my right ear. I stick my finger in it. Wiggle it. Blow my nose. No such luck. The ringing grows louder. I turn to Google and search “sudden onset of tinnitus in one ear.” Google says tumors and blood clots and, hopefully, ear wax. I resolve to never search a symptom on Google ever again. The best recommendation: ambient sound, avoid silence at all costs.

I go to my hushed therapy office for a full day of work.

It’s torture.

blessings

Photo Credit: nitimongkolchai (Bigstock)

By the end of the day, I’m jumping out of my skin. I’m starting to get anxious. I will be traveling to Virginia on Saturday for a speaking engagement, and I can’t imagine doing so with this ringing. Of course, people live their whole lives with tinnitus, but silence has always been my best coping method—the idea of living with this forever almost undoes me. It is always a little terrifying when a lifelong coping strategy quits working.

I go to sleep, hoping for magic overnight.

Wednesday morning.

No magic. After a restless night, I rise to the ringing even louder in my ear. I call my chiropractor, and he takes good care of me, but afterward, the ringing continues unabated. I can sense something dark lurking at the edges of my hope. For the rest of the day, I do my best to ignore it.

Thursday morning.

I awake and the ringing is louder than ever. Remembering the ear wax thing, I call my doctor and set up an appointment for Friday afternoon. Then, I try to concentrate on producing my podcast. Around noon, with the mercury pushing seventy for the first time all year, I finally give up. I put air in the tires of my bike and go for my first outdoor ride in six months.

Nature has been stubborn here. Though it has been spring for more than a month, there is no green to be seen. I ride through brown, barren forests. With no foliage yet to obscure it, the death and decay on the forest floor is laid bare. Toppled trees. Lightning scorched stumps. Rotting leaves and branches. A month from now, on this very same ride, I will be unable to see any of it—it will all be obscured by the resurrection of springtime, the dense blessing of new growth. The death and decay will still be there, but it will be hidden within the beauty.

I ride through the barren forest and, suddenly, I realize I can’t hear the ringing.

The rush of air past my ears is is obscuring it.

The brokenness of my hearing, hidden within the beauty of the wind.

The dark thing at the edges of my hope retreats a little.

Usually, I insist on believing that blessing is found in the absence of brokenness. But I’m reminded once again, blessing is not the absence of brokenness; it is beauty amidst the brokenness. Beauty is the blessing that helps us bear the burden of our brokenness. Beauty is given to us, in seasons, so we may pay attention to it for a little while, rather than the brokenness, rather than the death and decay.

I get home and do the dishes. I realize the running of water obscures the ringing even better than the wind, and I live in a town with a river running through it, and in the middle of the town is a dam. I imagine spending the remainder of my years—my march toward death and decay—with a broken ringing in my ears, and I picture myself going down to the river daily, to let the sound of the dam replace the ringing in my head.

Beauty amidst the brokenness.

Brokenness lost in beauty.

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Week 26: The Opposite of Loneliness [Loveable 027]

“The world we live in is aching with loneliness. Yet, we are rarely aware of it, because in a loud and crowded world, loneliness has a thousand busy disguises.”

In Episode 27 of The Loveable Podcast, we discuss how our mass connection culture produces fake news and fake belonging, we explore the necessary requirements for true belonging, and we identify the one word that will help you build true belonging over a lifetime. 

loveable podcast episode 27

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • For true belonging to happen, the only requirements are an awareness of our shared humanity, and a willingness to reveal our shared humanity.
  • The people we belong to not only tolerate our growth and transformation, they encourage it.
  • The core reality of our existence is wholeness and belonging; our task is to become aware of this.
  • You can’t find peace by seeking it, but by cultivating the conditions that give rise to it.
  • Belonging can be created in any moment when someone is truly seen and heard.
  • Belonging does not require total transparency; it requires total presence.
  • Belonging can be found in a moment, but it requires a lifetime to build.

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Week 25: The One Sentence That Can Change Your Love and Life [Loveable 026]

“I’m not going to worry very much about offending people anymore, which means I need you to tell me when I do, so I can think about it and decide if I need to apologize.”

This is the one sentence that can change the way you love and live. In Episode 26 of The Loveable Podcast, we explore the fine line between empathy and codependence, and how healthy emotional boundaries, rooted in our sense of worthiness, can help us to stay on the right side of that line. 

loveable podcast episode 26

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • The dark night of the soul only leads us somewhere if we bravely continue to walk through it, one step at a time.
  • Sometimes we aren’t afraid of rejection, we are exhausted by it. But if we hope to find belonging, we must keep showing up, no matter how weary we are.
  • Just try to fail a little better next time; it takes the pressure off.
  • Empathy becomes codependence when responsibility for cultivating belonging is not shared in the relationship.
  • At first, worthiness gives us the courage to use our voice; as we mature, it also gives us the courage to hear when our voice has been hurtful.
  • There’s a difference—a huge one—between speaking your mind and speaking your heart.
  • Your true self is naturally caring and compassionate.

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Dear Young Author (A Dad’s Letter to His Son About Writing and Living)

young author

Photo Credit: engphoto (Bigstock)

Dear Son,

Already, at age ten, you are a decorated author.

I’m proud of you—at your age, I had neither the courage nor the persistence to enter a young author contest. And, of course, I’m thrilled for you—it is a joyous thing when a writer’s risk is rewarded with some recognition. But I guess I’m also concerned for you, because in my short career as a writer, I’ve learned something about writing and about living:

Why we write is why we live.

I don’t mean that we live to write. As Stephen King wrote, “Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” What I mean is, while we are writing, we are also becoming. While we are writing, we are entering into a space within ourselves, and when we are done writing, we go out and live from that space. So, if you write honestly, you will live more honestly. If you write tenderly, you will speak more tenderly. If you write bravely, you will love more bravely.

And if you write to make your dad proud of you, your whole life will become a pride project.

Dear Son, not all reasons for writing and creating—and doing anything, really—are created equal. Don’t write because it gets my attention or anyone’s attention. Don’t write because you want to be popular or admired. Don’t write to make a name for yourself, and really don’t write to make money for yourself. Approval, attention, admiration, affluence. These are not bad things, but they are temporary things. Terrific things, really, but also transient things.

Don’t write to achieve temporal things; write to approach transcendent things.

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Week 24: The Other Most Important Thing to Look for in a Best Friend [Loveable 025]

“Your time on this big rock is limited, so it is probably a waste of your time to spend it trying to convince people who cannot see the goodness of your heart that it is, indeed, good.”

Finding true belonging is not just about finding people, it is also about letting some people go. In Episode 25 of The Loveable Podcast, we explore the always complicated and often painful process of giving up on belonging with some people, so we can go build it with other people. 

loveable podcast episode 25

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • You matter, your needs matter, and even your wants matter.
  • Cure is fixing brokenness, while care is abiding in it, and sometimes care is even more healing than cure.
  • People who will not embrace your true self are not bad people, but they are bad for you.
  • The most painful part of finding true belonging also yields the greatest rewards.
  • The people we belong to can’t read our mind, but they do trust our heart.
  • The secret to marriage is not the pace of growth, but faith in the desire for it.
  • Cultivating true belonging always requires grieving the loss of the belonging we want but will never have.

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Week 23: The Most Important Thing to Look for in a Best Friend [Loveable 024]

“Belonging is built on bravery.”  

Most of us, when we are looking for someone to belong to—whether in marriage or friendship or anywhere else—look for someone who seems either perfect, or a perfect fit. Neither exist. In Episode 24 of The Loveable Podcast we explore what else we might look for in our relationships. Hint: it has to do with blindspots and brokenness and bravery…

loveable podcast episode 24

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Finding true belonging is not about total authenticity, but wise authenticity.
  • When you understand how the ego works, you can understand how your teenager works.
  • You can’t see the true self in anyone else until you have first embraced it within yourself.
  • Pursuing and distancing behaviors in relationships are very different-looking methods of anxiety management.
  • If you don’t have a growth mindset, it is impossible to find true belonging.
  • Ultimately, we hunger for connection, not perfection.
  • Marriage is two people working on their own self-becoming, right next to each other, with each other, for a lifetime.

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