Not just the environment

Like many people I’ve been challenged and helped by Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame. In particular I’ve been working through her book “The gifts of imperfection, your guide to a wholehearted life”.

It feels like a good time to be exploring the issues in the book, as I have recognised traits of perfectionism in my habits and routines, in a way that has been profoundly unhelpful over the years. I’d recommend reading the book to help navigate the move from living “as you think you’re supposed to be” to embracing “who you are” (the sub-title of the book).

Of particular interest to this blog is the foundation on which Brené bases her work, which centres on three concepts:

  1. Courage
  2. Compassion
  3. Connection



These are described as “the gifts of imperfection” and Brené talks about how important these are as daily practices – things we need to live out every day. I thought that these make another nice set of three circles.

Brené’s books aren’t written with “the environment” in mind, but the themes in the books touch deeply on our relationships with each other and on the relationship we have with the planet and the other creatures we share the planet with (a similar theme emerged in my conversation with Jean Leston).

In particular, there is a definite sense of vulnerability in relation to the environment at the moment, and most positive responses rely on a sense of wholehearted living (for example the Transition Movement).

So, to explore these three words slightly more…


Described in the book as “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart”, it feels completely appropriate that any response to the state of the world requires a response of heart and mind. Not just an intellectual but an emotional response.


Brené defines this as “to suffer with” and quotes the work of Pema Chödrön, whose writing speaks very powerfully into this theme:

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

I like the idea that compassion brings us into a place of equality, rather than seeing ourselves above or different from others, and from the natural world.


“The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued”. Connection, in the specific form of ‘nature connection’, is one of the words that made me start to re-think about how I would define my own three circles, and is one of the reasons I started this blog, to make connections with new people, and deeper connections with those I already knew.


I feel that I am just scratching the surface with these words. To avoid perfectionism, and waiting till my thinking on this subject is complete, I have decided to publish now, so I can continue to explore.


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