Wholeheartedness: Ten Keys of Life and Self-Knowing that Wholehearted People Cultivate

[photo by Brent T. Ladd: wild lavender on ascent of Mont Sainte Victoir]
“Wholeheartedness is a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness” – Brene´Brown


When outlining the purpose of my blog, Emerge Wild, I mention the journey of “becoming wholehearted” a number of times. This term arises in many of the articles I’ve posted here. But, I have not described what wholeheartedness is. Brene´Brown, a social scientist who has been studying courage, shame, vulnerability, and empathy for more than two decades says her research results show ten key areas of life and self-knowing that wholehearted people focus on and cultivate, and what they actively let go of:


Keys to Wholehearted Living:
1. Cultivate Authenticity – Let go of ‘What Will People Think’
2. Cultivate Self-Compassion – Let go of perfectionism
3. Cultivate a Resilient Spirit – Let go of numbing and powerlessness
4. Cultivate Gratitude and Joy – Let go of scarcity and fear of the dark
5. Cultivate Intuition and Trust – Let go of the need for certainty
6. Cultivate Creativity – Let go of comparison
7. Cultivate Play & Rest – Let go of exhaustion as a status symbol
8. Cultivate Calm and Stillness – Let go of anxiety as a lifestyle
9. Cultivate Meaningful Work – Let go of self-doubt and ‘supposed to’
10. Cultivate Laughter, Song, Dance – Let go of being cool and in control


Brown’s results have shown over and over again that the main concern of wholehearted people is living a life defined by courage, compassion, and connection.


The ability to be vulnerable is the key that unlocks the door to begin entering into wholeheartedness. Rather than sitting on the sidelines, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is what Brown describes as “becoming the wilderness, and Maya Angelou describes as freedom:
“You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
You must become resilient against shame before you can really be vulnerable. Know that you are enough – you are worthy. Don’t attach your self-worth to anything that you produce. You are so much more than that. You are more than your job. You are more than your knowledge. You are more than your abilities. You are more than your clothes. You are more than your house or anything that you own. You are enough – you are worthy.


Shame resilience is the ability to practice authenticity when experiencing shame, and move through the experience without sacrificing your values, and come out on the other side of the shame experience with more courage, compassion, and connection than you had going into it. There is much difficult and courageous work here. Brown has remarked that,
“Only when we’re brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”


It’s about moving from shame into empathy. And, it’s about connection and belonging. Connection is the energy created between people when they feel they are seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment. We have an innate desire to Belong. To be part of something larger than us. True belonging can only be less than or equal to the level of self-acceptance you have for yourself.


There is much, much to explore on the journey toward becoming the wilderness.


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