"The opposite of recognizing that we're feeling something is denying our emotions. The opposite of being curious is disengaging. When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don't go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending - to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how the story ends."
- Brene Brown
I used to buy every single book that I wanted to read, but then I realized that
#1) Books take up a bunch of space
#2) Books are heavy when you need to move and movers charge by the weight of your stuff
#3) Not all books are worthy of keeping after you have read them
#4) Books are expensive
#5) Although many people love to read from their devices, I still love the solid feel of a book in my hands (which brings me back to numbers 1-4)
In the past few years I've been way more of a library junkie, making sure to put holds on all the books that I would like to read. When I saw that Brene Brown released a new book called "Rising Strong" I decided to purchase it instead of waiting for it to come in at the library. Brene Brown's Ted Talk on the power of vulnerability is one of my favorites because it really made me think about how I constantly need to show everyone how strong I am rather than allowing myself to appear vulnerable. I also really enjoyed reading her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" (my wonderful friend, Nikki sent it to me right after I moved). That book allowed me to ease into my move without feeling overwhelmed by perfectionism that can sometimes cripple me.
Not only do I not regret this purchase, I am encouraging others to go out and buy Brene Brown's new book, "Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution." I've actually recommended it to so many others and several of them are reading it and loving it. Why? Because there are so many take aways from this book, that it's one that you will want to come back to when you are struggling through conflicts, work drama, family issues, or just trying to own the story of your life.
I actually annotated as I was reading (which prompted raised eyebrows from both of my daughters who have had it drilled into their heads at school that you NEVER PUT MARKS IN BOOKS. They asked me with strained voices, "Mommy, why are you writing in your brand new book?!"). I told them I would never write in a library book, but this book was mine and there were things that I wanted to remember and if I took notes in the book as I read, I could easily find them again.
I underlined and annotated more things than I can effectively share in this post, but I will tell you some of my biggest take aways. My first take away is from Brene Brown's story about meeting the Pixar creative team. During their meeting and subsequent correspondences, she realized that the struggles we all face are very similar to the creative process of creating a story and the struggle that the story writers and animators face. When a creative team maps out a story they follow the steps of a hero's journey or archetypal theory; they see this as three acts to the story. It's Act 2 that the creative team struggles with the most. This is the act where the hero has to reach rock bottom, the lowest of the low point, before he or she can rise and achieve redemption. Applied to real life, act two is where many people don't dare touch because it is messy, it's complicated, it's emotional and it's where we are at our most vulnerable. Let's face it, most people don't enjoy being uncomfortable.
Brene Brown's take away from this is that we need to rumble through this messy Act Two phase in order to rise strong as we create the stories in our lives. She realized that story is an integral part of our vulnerability.
For me, this was a big point of wisdom because I do believe that telling our life stories honestly and being able to share them makes us not only vulnerable, but helps us to connect with others. That's why our tag line at stageoflife.com is "changing the world one story at a time." Our stories humanize and connect us, and the more vulnerable we are willing to become in sharing our story, the greater human connections we will make. In Brene Brown's book she wisely says, "The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole ore more acceptable, but our wholeness - even our wholeheartedness - actually depend on the integration of all of our experiences, including the falls."
She encourages us to own our stories, and shares her own stories of conflict in her relationships as examples to show how the process works. Through examples from misunderstandings with her husband, to professional missteps, to how to handle miscommunication in meetings, Brene Brown's greatest asset is her ability to make everything clear and connected. She uses references from Anne Lamott's book "Bird by Bird" and her concept of a "shitty first draft" (SFD) and how we often get caught up in the story that we tell ourselves about a situation. Being able to say "The story I am making up about this situation is . . . " puts things into perspective. We honestly don't know all the angles of a situation or conflict. We only know our own story, so if we can own the story that we are telling ourselves and even be vulnerable enough to share our own insecurities with others, we may be able to rise strong through the rumble in act two rather than let it control us.
Pretty cool, right?
As I read this book (which is a really fast read), I shared the parts I underlined with my husband every night. He could apply everything to his own situations at work and told me that as soon as I was done that he wanted to read it. "Rising Strong" is a book that you will want to pass along to others, because it just makes sense.