Jenn Bruer

Chasing greatness

A couple of weeks ago I had my Book Launch Party, in celebration of my book that details my physical, mental, and spiritual recovery from Burnout. During the Q & A someone asked me what I have learned the most about myself in the process of writing Helping Effortlessly. This blog post comes from the spinning in my head from that question which resulted in answers about Greatness. If you are interested in catching some highlights of that night you can catch them on my Facebook page here.

What is greatness and how did I get in touch with a) my own greatness and b) the greatness of those around me? 

In the past, I truly had no idea how to tap into my own greatness, I always suspected it was there, but it always felt just out of my reach. 

In the years leading up to my transformation, I had been mistakenly striving instead for excellence, expecting that greatness would reveal itself there. I wanted to achieve excellence in friendships, in generosity, in being a good person, in being a good helper, in being smart and well spoken, in being financially stable, in having nice things, in weight loss, in being a good cook, in being kind etc.

I never actually felt my own greatness reveal itself in any of those things, let alone the greatness of others, because excellence is not greatness. Character is not greatness. Strong morality is not greatness. Accomplishment of any kind is also not greatness.

Have you ever entered a room you have been in 100 times, only to have someone point out some small detail that had been there the whole time, but you never quite noticed it? Because you never quite turned your awareness onto it? Greatness is like that- you were NEVER a moment without your own greatness, but you may not be aware of it.

If I look to the past I may be filled with regret, and it looks a little like this: “oh, I wish I had said…” or “oh, I wish I had done…” or “oh, there is pain here or there”. When we reflect on the past we can find pain, embarrassment (in the previous versions of ourselves who didn’t know better), regret or shame, and even if there are great experiences in the past, they can leave us feeling a sense of longing, longing for the good old days (before social media for example).

Alternatively, if I look to or live from the perspective of the future, it can be filled with pressure (I have to accomplish or achieve said goal), there can be overwhelm because of all of the steps associated with achieving certain goals, and fear and worry about how things might turn out (often with a lack of faith). In thoughts about the future, I lose all appreciation for the moment because the future isn’t here and it never will be, and so I am living and breathing in some kind of illusionary place.

Since my own greatness didn’t reveal itself in any form of excellence, in any form of deep moral compunction, in any crafting or upholding of character, and if it wasn’t in any past or future thought, where then did I find it?

Like me, I am willing to bet you think trees symbolize the epitome of greatness. A tree never compares itself to other trees, a tree is ultimately selfish and always takes care of its own needs first, a tree is a symbol of pure strength and rootedness.

Similar to a tree, I found my own greatness in my own stillness, it was inside of me and I only felt it in silence. Once I felt it, often it would disappear, “oh no, where did my greatness go, I had it just a moment ago” *tapping my back pocket, tapping my front pocket, opening my purse*. Where did it go? I even looked under my bed! But I assure you, you will not find your greatness there (but there is likely a lot of dust and maybe a crumpled Kleenex).

In stillness all expectations of accomplishments are lifted. The more I remain in stillness with my breath, AS my breath, I can hold on to the greatness that exists inside of me and hold steady with it, perhaps my greatness is my breath.

One thing I am certain of, greatness isn’t found in an external place. 

As you become aware of your own greatness you naturally become keenly aware of the greatness of those around you which in turn soothes them. 

If you can see (or rather feel or become aware of) another person’s greatness – even if you don’t say a word to them about it – you become a healing entity, for them but also for you.

In my experience of greatness, it feels light, loving, real, HUGE, and miraculous. It feels in that moment as though I AM Niagara Falls. I am one of the worlds natural wonders (I know it sounds like some kind of psychedelic trip!).

During the moments of my greatness revealing itself to me, I feel like pure purpose, I yearn for nothing, I am everything. 

But once I leave that meditative state do I continue to feel the greatness? Sometimes yes and sometimes no, more importantly, I have the memory of the greatness, more like a reminder that it is there. I am not sure that I will ever BECOME my greatness in wholeness, or maybe that will come with practice? The more I engage in meditation and prayer, being in touch with my truth, embracing my whole self, and proceed with the knowing that I have purpose and love to offer to the world, I can hold more steadily in my greatness.

So where does it begin? 

Well, for starters be aware that you are aware! 

Read that again

Imagine that! We are so incredible that we can be aware of awareness itself! This concept was first taught to me by the amazing Eckhart Tolle back in the day before he was even known, when Oprah had first discovered him, and it seemed everyone was trying to understand his teaching. Some got it and some didn’t, some got it in theory but not in practice (that was me at the time) and some simply didn’t get it at all and felt it was all gibberish. 

As I delved deeper into unexplored territories within myself, I realized that these teachings (about awareness) weren’t academic teachings but rather experiential ones. I never delved in at the time because I hadn’t grasped that. The only way I ever tapped into my own greatness or the greatness of those around me was to simply experiment by trying, with meditation, with delving deep within myself and with truly standing before any human being and challenging myself to see their greatness. I would try and fail 100 times or more before seeds of growth began and I could make connections within my body, my mind, and my energy field, to feel and sense what this even meant. 

I used to obsessively scan the landscape of eyes around me, looking for approval, looking for my worth to be reflected back to me in the eyes of others like it was my job. 

So what have I learned? I have learned that my job is to BE the concert of all that I am, to sing the song of my truth and not concern myself with what anyone thinks about me or how they receive me or my “music”, because just as if my music was a grand opera, some people will nevertheless hear it and merely hear noise, some people will hear it and think it sounds awful. My job is not to worry about my music so much as it is to merely sing it and own it with a deep knowing that it is truly good enough.

How do I stop worrying what others think? With the mantra, “allow” – I allow everyone around me to have their thoughts and feelings, about me or about anything, without feeling like I have to alter it or control it in any way. 


Published by Jenn Bruer

Jenn is a youth counsellor and a retired foster parent after eighteen years of service. Jenn is the author of Helping Effortlessly: A Book of Inspiration and Healing, a self-help book based on her personal experience of burnout recovery. She has been on her own path to burnout recovery, health and healing since 2011. Jenn is a Mindfulness and Stress Management workshop provider and public speaker. Jenn has recently partnered with Mindful Reach to help create online learning opportunities to bring Mindfulness Based Practice to the frontlines, Jenn also sits on their advisory board.

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