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Publications
  • Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home
    Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home
    by Leigh Newman

    Can't wait! 

  • Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit
    Einstein's God: Conversations About Science and the Human Spirit
    by Krista Tippett
  • The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves
    The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone---Especially Ourselves
    by Dan Ariely
  • Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up
    Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up
    by Harriet Lerner
Publications
  • Rhythm And Repose
    Rhythm And Repose
    Anti/Epitaph

    Tender and beautiful. 

  • Boys & Girls
    Boys & Girls
    by Alabama Shakes

    Love this album! So happy when I saw BrainPicker post this on her site! 

  • City of Refuge
    City of Refuge
    by Abigail Washburn

    Pure magic!

  • Some Nights
    Some Nights
    by Fun.
  • She Ain't Me
    She Ain't Me
    by Carrie Rodriguez

    I'm such a fan. 

  • I'm Your Man
    I'm Your Man
    by Leonard Cohen

    Take this Waltz is on my top ten list of all songs!

  • Babel
    Babel
    by Mumford & Sons
Publications
  • Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (Original UK Unedited Edition)
    Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey (Original UK Unedited Edition)
    PBS

    So totally addicted to this series! Absolutely amazing!

  • Zen: Vendetta / Cabal / Ratking [Blu-ray]
    Zen: Vendetta / Cabal / Ratking [Blu-ray]
    starring Rufus Sewell

    Based on your recommendations from a recent blog post! It's another wonderful BBC mystery series! 

  • The Good Wife: The First Season
    The Good Wife: The First Season
    starring Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles, Matt Czuchry, Archie Panjabi

    One of the best shows on TV. Juiliana Marguiles is incredible. 

  • Doc Martin: Collection - Series 1-4
    Doc Martin: Collection - Series 1-4
    starring Martin Clunes, Caroline Catz, Lia Williams, Stephanie Cole, Ian McNeice
gifting
Tuesday
Jan222013

light, love and martin luther king, jr.

I used to turn to this quote in the midst of crisis or tragedy (or whenever I was in personal struggle). Now I realize that what started as shared wisdom has become my central prayer and a daily practice for me. 

Anger, judgment and blame are go-to emotions for me. This is especially true when I'm tired, anxious, or feeling vulnerable. When I'm not being mindful, I can try to overcome hate with hate. I can drop quickly into resentment and judgment. 

When there is darkness in the world, I can slip into the dark place. I can start rehearsing tragedy and let my fear take over. I can turn to blame even though I know that blaming is simply a way to discharge pain and discomfort and has nothing to do with holding people accountable.

This incredible wisdom from Martin Luther King has become a prayer to me because it is everything I believe about my faith. I want to stay in love when fear drives me to hate and judgement. I want to practice gratitude and cultivate joy in the darkness. That doesn't mean that I can't be afraid or sad or vulnerable, it simply means that reacting to tragedy by living in fear doesn't create empathy, it breeds more fear. 

Here's to love and light. As an imperfect practice. As a daring prayer. Thank you, Dr. King. 

« standing in courage | Main | creativity rocks. »

Reader Comments (48)

Love this post!!
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLindsey
This is my favorite of his as well. I almost posted it to my blog yesterday but didn't - not sure why. I'm glad you did. :)
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlice
Very well put. I especially like "reacting to tragedy by living in fear doesn't create empathy, it breeds more fear." So true.

Thank you.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTrudy
love this

thank you
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterFaye
Dear Brene,

It is counter intuition to respond in the opposite spirit, but it is a true truth. We were built for light and love and when we begin to practice that, it fits us, fulfills us, empowers us, and frees us. Thanks for this post, as usual you bring intentional life through the ripples of your life.

Warmest regards,
Debra
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDebra Tunney
Thank you Brene' for reminding all of us that is all about light and LOVE. And thank you for being so open and sharing your feelings in the dark moments. Your words as Dr. Kings are very uplifting.
Much love!
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRusty
I was litterally stewing in anger and resentment when I received this email! It was definitely mitigated but I can't seem to get rid of that hankering that this person is to blame because they acted selfishly. I guess I need to to finish your book! Thank you for your honest wisdom.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
What an amazing man and an amazing quote. I’ve read it before but it never fails to inspire me. Thank you for this post.
It is all to easy for all of us to sllip into resentment and judgment. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability. Today I was especially feeling that, after a friend commented to 'put on a happy face', I have few people I can be vulnerable with and share my deepest feelings. I'd love to have a heart to heart with you.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLori
currently studying a course in miracles..these same types of messages keep appearing. you are either choosing fear or love.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn Freeman
I feel like you wrote this for me tonight. Thank you!
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKristy
I posted this same quote in honor of Dr. King yesterday. It just sums it all up, really, doesn't it? Thank you for your eloquent explanation. Lately, I especially need to work on the "fear" component when I send my kids off to school each day...I have to believe that good trumps evil, that kindness will triumph, that light overcomes darkness.. even when certain days or moments in our world seem so dark and tragic. I also, lately, have been praying that healing light (the love of God, hope, peace, however you want to define it) reaches at least one person who is trapped in darkness. Thank you.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered Commenterbouldermama
Thank you, again, Brene`. I was reading about President Obama's inauguration last evening when I spied a photograph of people protesting. They, apparently, were from a local Baptist Church. One sign said, "God hates Obama." I had trouble figuring out how I felt about the person carrying that sign...initially anger because I love Barack Obama. Then I fantasized about asking the person about a god who would hate his own creation. Everything I came up with felt shame-based. This quote from Dr. King is the perfect sentiment. Thank you.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Nelson
Thank you! I needed this quote and blog. Whenever in swirl of chaos it takes consciousness to remain in the moment and seek and share love.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaula
This is a beautiful post, Brene. Thank you
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTina
This quote makes me think of LINCOLN. Just saw the movie yesterday (MLK day) and I was deeply challenged.

I think the thing that left the biggest impression on me was toward the end of the movie when Abraham Lincoln was talking with Ulysses Grant. He mentioned that when the war ended he wanted no witch hunts, no hangings of the traitors, in fact he said he wouldn't be angry if the top brass of the confederacy escaped to another country somehow. He saw that the important thing was to restore the union. To forgive. Wow. That's love driving out hate.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterTodd
Thanks Brene! I live in Newtown in the village of Sandy Hook. We have a saying displayed on many signs throughout town: "We are Sandy Hook. We choose Love." With such darkness, it can be difficult to find the light at times, but I have found that when I reach out with love to help in my community, the light is a bit easier to find. Thanks to those around the world who have offered us their love and light...it's truly incredible.
01.22.2013 | Unregistered CommenterChrissy
i think what is the most difficult part for me is the retaliation of hate/judgment/self-righteous indignation when someone lashes out at me or comes after my character through gossip. it goes against everything in my nature to respond with grace or love. the knee-jerk reaction is to settle the score or at least defend myself or my cause/reputation/etc. but it just feeds the disorder; the miscommunication and the pain. it makes it worse. "i can turn to blame even though I know that blaming is simply a way to discharge pain and discomfort and has nothing to do with holding people accountable." .... mmmmm...good word. as always, you inspire me to learn & grow, never stop. thank you!
01.22.2013 | Unregistered Commentertammy
Yesterday was about coming out of the darkness into the light for my eldest daughter & the rest of our family.
I did send this quote onto a great friend of mine, as she was in need of some wise words. I had previously read it on your site and remembered it as gold dust!
More about this can be seen on my posting on todays blog www.collageconnection.blogspot.co.uk
Thank you Brene for being there, you have have helped me feel worthy for the very first time in my life. Lots of grattiude!!! Also inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts art, introduced to me by yourself. Thank you
01.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMoira
Yesterday was about coming out of the darkness into the light for my eldest daughter & the rest of our family.
I did send this quote onto a great friend of mine, as she was in need of some wise words. I had previously read it on your site and remembered it as gold dust!
More about this can be seen on my posting on todays blog www.collageconnection.blogspot.co.uk
Thank you Brene for being there, you have have helped me feel worthy for the very first time in my life. Lots of grattiude!!! Also inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts art, introduced to me by yourself. Thank you
01.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMoira
Love this quote. MLK, Jr. borrowed it from the Buddha and used it so appropriately for the 1960s and now 2013. He was a visionary dedicated to non-violence for ALL.
01.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLisa
I would add Brene that in my experience, blaming is only an attempt to discharge pain. It doesn't actually do that! In fact, it actually increases pain and makes things much worse for ourselves!
thank you.
01.23.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAmber
Thank you for this thought. I didn't realize that I actually feel and have the same tendencies until I read the way you put it into words. This post is an inspiration for me to look at this differently too, so Thank you!
01.24.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSandy
I connect your thoughts to this proverb: "A life lived in fear is a life half lived." I encountered it in the movie "Strictly Ballroom" but I understand it comes from a Spanish proverb. It sticks with me when I'm trying to live wholeheartedly, and pushes me to consider what I night regret--being too timid or too bold? And always asking 'is this love at work?'
I'm grateful for your words of truth and love and grateful to the friend who forwarded your post to me. When we choose love and generosity, we are enriched. Thanks, Brene.
01.27.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnnis Cassells
Thank you Brene.

This is a beautiful quote and I love your blog.

Dr. Gordon Neufeld calls our biggest fear "facing separation". Anytime we face separation we automatically experience frustration, alarm and pursuit. These primary core emotion happen to us all, but if we can feel vulnerable enough and experience our "tears of futility" then resilience is born. Love and light are the opposite of separation and give birth to creativity and emergence.

When I am in pain, I move into alarm and want to protect myself. When I am able to connect with LOVE/GOD and feel deeply moved to tears then I am healed...otherwise my heart hardens, my vulnerability diminishes, and I become angry, judgmental and start trying to control everyone and everything...and the house gets cleaned.

Your research and Gordon Neufled's theory have so much in common.
01.28.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie
Imagine m surprise when I saw the book "Daring Greatly" on a shelf behind the characters in the CBS series "Elementary". I think it was episode 7.
02.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGabriele
I have the great opportunity to learn that there really is only one emotion and that is Love. Fear is the illusion of the lack of Love and all other emotions stem from that. We've all come from Love and will return to it at some point in life or death.

Thank you for your Love and Light
02.1.2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia
In "Conversations With GoD" (Or one of them, I read all I think) there is question I use many times in my life. "What would love do right now?" I love the question and I love this quote.
02.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterStella Scott
Discovering this quote this morning (Monday, sigh) has put everything that is happening in my life in perspective. I felt like the narrative below it was being addressed to me, personally. My morning was full of anger and blame. I came into work like a storm cloud ready to rain on my unsuspecting co-workers (Please, I thought, nobody ask me how I am this morning!). I decided I needed to get my act together and find some way to centre myself for the day before everything went horribly wrong. Your blog was my first stop and I am so very glad for it. Thank you so much for your insightful and truly human inspiration.
02.4.2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Laharty
I am grateful for my family supporting me through hardship. Never in my life have I been so vulnerable, but I feel so strong! (certainly not everyday) Lots of soul searching, but wouldn't I be able to keep me & my children's head above water without my family, so for that I am grateful:)
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterNikki
Thank you, Brenee. I am a licensed professional counselor and have been fascinated with your work. It's brilliant! Thank you for being vulnerable with the world when you shared your TED talk about vulnerability. I wish I could work with you somehow! I'm grateful for the blue sky today and for my children's smiles. The MLK quote is posted in my office!
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterSusan
As an AHA volunteer I just got done sending a Thank You letter to those that helped me achieve this years financial goal -I am Grateful for your donation to the American Heart Association - A life & memories have been saved/ cherished....
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMona meeee
Today I am grateful for the experience of an open and loving heart, and mentors throughot my life who have shown me through example that this is life's best stance...
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria
Abundance is finally beginning to flow as I take 100 % responsibility and show up as my best self in what life unfolds in the moment as a 57 yrs young woman of colour, having been assimilated by dominant culture that displaced mine that I grew up with. I honour my mother, and all the mothers without whom we would not have been birthed! My mother taught me it was ok to cry and tears have been my teachers...Brene continue to shine your light.. Om Shanti!
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaya
I'm grateful for the perspective I have today from my emotional rollercoaster of yesterday. My boyfriend may not be able to be vulnerable, but I can be more understanding of him and not succumb to retaliation. Next time, anyway. :)
02.11.2013 | Unregistered Commenterviolet
I am grateful to be sober today. So many alcoholics don't make it to sustained sobriety. I am truly grateful to be one of the lucky ones.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartha McGhee
I am grateful for the gift of laughter and being able to create joy within me at any given moment.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda
I'm grateful my therapist led me (and five other women) through BB's resiliency psycho-educational curriculum. Still working to apply what I learned everyday...practicing critical awareness in traffic is a challenge.
02.11.2013 | Unregistered CommenterJo Linda
Hi I am grateful today for the love I exsperienced on the 9/2/13 when my 31yr old son and his wife had their first child. To stand back and watch the change in the depth of love and understanding I saw in my son, was undiscribable.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane Reynolds
Today I am grateful for reaching a BIG 15-year milestone since major surgery and starting treatment at MD Anderson Cancer Center which gave me life back in a whole new way - being CANCER FREE and starting a journey of letting go of "shoulds" and the shame of "not being enough"!! I AM ENOUGH! And I am the happiest I have ever been! THANK YOU, Brene!
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy
I am grateful for the words of a therapist who told me yesterday, when I talked about all the reasons I wanted to be a part of a group she was leading, "you don't have to prove anything." It opened my heart; I didn't have to do anything. I was welcome. For those 'simple' words, I am grateful. I don't have to prove/quantify myself. I can just be.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterRM
Thank you for your reflection "I can start rehearsing tragedy and let my fear take over." This is my MO, I realize, when I hide feelings of which I am ashamed under the rug. You help me to see how toxic that habit is.

I'm also grateful today to have a cold, so I can finally rest and recuperate from the torrent of activity!
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
Grateful for big, sloppy golden retrievers; for not ignoring my in-box so that I could learn about the Sounds True offering; sitting with clients in their vulnerability and seeing the grace and beauty of their struggle; for Brene's sharing this work and her own vulnerability - it makes me look for and find my courage too; stillness; getting to love and be loved.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenda
I am grateful for all the posts on this page that I've been enjoying for the last few days. It's great to read about the empowerment, self discovery, and the wonderfulness of women that's being so vividly expressed on this page. A gift I certainly didn't expect when I originally commented. What a rare glimpse into women's hearts and souls. Thanks for making it possible Brene.
02.12.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMartha McGhee
I am grateful for friends (& counselors) who allow us to practice being vulnerable without judgment, who support us in our decisions and who still love us when we make a mess of things. Those friends are worthy of the honor of being called friend. I hope that I am as good a friend to them.
02.13.2013 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen
I am grateful today for learning something about saying sorry and releasing the fear of being punished. That sometimes it feels someone is pushing so hard to have an authority say 'You did wrong ' and 'please punish this person for me' that I can loose sight of saying,'Yes i made a mistake and I'd do it differently in the future...

please pull my name out of the hat for the free books!
Rick
02.13.2013 | Unregistered Commenterrick

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