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November 19, 2022

Brené Brown on Real, Gritty, Dangerous, Wild-eyed, Justice-Seeking Love.

 

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I’ve never felt a more euphoric feeling than love.

I’ve also never experienced an emotion with the amount of force that love has.

Sure, grief and despair and excitement and fear and joy and pretty much all the emotions we experience have an incredible amount of power, but…love? Oh, baby, to me, love is everything all at once. It’s the most beautiful, terrifying, and powerful emotion out there (I think).

To me, what makes love so terrifying is the vulnerability involved. Love can often feel like we’re living with our hearts outside our ribcage—and that’s frightening. But it’s also one of the most freeing feelings we can experience—to be completely open and uncomfortably exposed to another. But what’s more liberating than being seen? And I mean really seen.

We need love.

But all too often, I hear skewed definitions of what love truly is. (Although, it’s certainly not an emotion that can be objectively defined—can any emotion really be defined?)

And that’s why when I read Brené Brown’s definition of love, I was completely and utterly in agreement.

“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness, and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can be cultivated between two people only when it exists within each one of them—we can love others only as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can survive these injuries only if they’re acknowledged, healed, and rare.”

And then Brené goes on to add:

“I’ll confess that I don’t think we’ll ever be able to fully unravel the mysteries of love, or, to be honest, many of the other emotions we experience. At least I hope not. I think attempting to better understand ourselves and each other is essential. But so is mystery.”

Oof.

And that just about sums it up for me, folks. Well, mostly. I think adding that last bit to her definition of real love was absolutely necessary because defining love—or any emotion we experience, for that matter—is not exactly possible.

And to me, that’s exactly what this definition of real love is saying: love is not so simple. And that’s the beauty of love—the nuances, the mystery, the never-ending discovery of it. But what’s also important to note is that real love is not simply received—it’s created.

And that’s what really drove this definition home for me because I always used to believe that love was something that happened right away. (Have any of you watched a Disney movie before?) And because of that, I’m sure I missed out on some epic love stories. Or…maybe I didn’t have enough love to add to the equation yet.

Either way, I now understand that love—real, gritty, dangerous, wild-eyed, justice-seeking love—comes from within. We create love. We are love. We just absolutely need to nurture it within ourselves.

And when things like shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and withholding of affection happen, communication heals.

Love is resilient. Love is euphoric. It’s vulnerable, dangerous, difficult, frightening.

But most importantly, it’s worth it.

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