What Is/Was Your Armor?

Today was the first day of the Brene Brown e-course based on her book The Gifts of Imperfection.  At the core is the idea that to live authentic and wholehearted lives we must live our lives with: COURAGE, COMPASSION, and CONNECTION.

visual brene

Reflecting on those things in your character and your emotions that get in the way of this type of deep connection is tough and powerful work.  We all have to work through things in our history – sometimes out of a goal to improve or just out of necessity when the baggage gets in our way.  But I love that courage/connection/compassion are aspirational … a daily destination to work toward in our relationships.

I am glad that Brene unpacks the words – moving them from ‘fluffy’ words that we can toss around pretty lightly to something that requires us to reveal ourselves (beautiful parts, warts, all of it) to others.   I first read the book last year and had plenty of text highlighted already, so used today to go back over the assigned reading and really reflect.  I wrote for a long bit in my journal … attempted to draw out some visuals that seemed to illustrate my relational journey  (messy, but they helped me process.)

I was surprised at how quickly the reflection on these topics carried me deep in the recesses of my history and my travels toward a life of greater connection, compassion and courage (though I might not have used those words before.)   I will have to clean up the pics to try to share, but I found myself drawing three stages

  • The Early Years (til about 20 yrs) – formative, how I showed up naturally, the bright spots (gifts, talents, kindnesses) that stayed with me and the dark clouds (tragedy, loss, things that brought shame later) that I had to wrestle with.
  • The Achievement Years (from 20 to about 35) – built a strong suit of armor that protected me from connections that might get too personal, might see past the image to the imperfections beneath, might think differently of me if they knew of any weaknesses.   So my armor was made of achievement, control and building a reputation of strength.  Some results were great, but at the expense of connection.
  • Expanding Connections years (from 35 to now (43) … and hopefully long into the future.)  This is about when I really started owning my own history, sharing it and my lessons with others, and when I was able to become more outward facing, investing in others and creating connections I would have avoided prior. It’s been an amazing period that’s been deepening year over year and I am SO grateful.  My family relationships have deepened and been restored, my friendships have grown and become more authentic, and I have touched the lives of many more people by sharing, coaching, and being open about my journey and imperfections.

I am excited to invest deliberate time in the coming weeks to find ways to continue down this relational path, and oh so grateful to be making this journey with two amazing friends.

I wonder – as you are reading this post – whether you have also crafted any armor that puts a barrier between yourself and real, open, vulnerable and honest connection with others?  I know that I had … and that taking that armor off has felt like a risky but incredibly rewarding journey.


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