This month’s edition of Off the Shelf takes a look at Brené Brown’s Rising Strong. This might be my favorite of Brown’s books!
How do you define vulnerability?
Being open and embracing the discomfort that comes with the possibility of failure. (Brown calls this “being facedown.”) For me it’s important to be vulnerable because people are watching — my peers, my nieces and nephews, my clients. The “social media perfect” world we’ve created in our society is doing more harm than good, in my opinion because it’s not real. We’re sharing what we want people to see, but there’s so much more that makes up who we are as people beings. It’s uncomfortable to share the messy parts of life: mistakes, bad decisions, and the like. Yet we love when others do so because we think, “How brave to share that!” We all have yin and yang, good and bad, so what’s the harm in showing the complete picture? Easier said than done, I know.
What resonates with you about the rising strong process?
The Reckoning: walking into our story
The Rumble: owning our story; what’s truth, what’s self-protection, and what needs to change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives
The Revolution: writing a new ending to our story
The Rumble is the key. If we don’t look at WHY something happened (AKA own it), we are bound to repeat our mistakes because we don’t even know what we should be learning from. I’m not saying we need to overanalyze every little thing that happens in our lives, but generally some reflection is a good idea, I find. I’m usually able to figure out the why when I journal or when I talk with a friend/my spouse.
Brown lists “rumbling topics” such as failure, forgiveness, shame, perfectionism, fear, and others. Which of these feel okay and which feel not okay to talk about? Why?
For me, anything goes. I’m probably too open sometimes. (Thanks, therapy!) But some people are private about certain things, and that’s their choice. I feel that sharing things out loud helps me own them and show others that whatever the situation is/was, it’s okay. How else will we learn and grow, individually as well as collectively? In business we talk about announcing a launch date for a course or whatever so that we have public accountability. Talking about fear, failure, disappointment, etc. is acknowledgment that the feelings — whatever they are — are real and that we aren’t perfect. Only showing the positive side of situations, whether in business or in life, is not realistic.
Do you believe that people are doing the best they can? In what ways could you imagine being more generous in your interpretation of others?
I want to be a person who unflinchingly gives others the benefit of the doubt and believes that we are all doing the best we can, as we never know what someone’s circumstances are. But I am a work in progress on that front. I yearn for more patience with others (and sometimes with myself). Some days I get cut off in traffic and think, “Maybe that person’s dad just had a heart attack and she is racing to the hospital. I would be cutting people off, too, if it were my dad.” Other days I think, “What a jerk!” as I honk my horn (just to make SURE the other driver knows I’m displeased). I give a lot to others, and I expect a lot in return. I have been told that I sometimes expect too much. I try to reframe my expectations of others and not with they would do or say what I would do or say, as that’s not fair. Work in progress, like I said!
What is your vision of what is possible for you?
My vision of my life is fairly simple, to be honest. I want to grow old with my husband and remain in good health. I want to live by the water with a house full of windows and where we can eat dinner on the back deck year-round. (I know I would miss the four seasons of life in the Northeast, but that’s what visiting family and friends will be for.) I want to work with hundreds more author entrepreneurs on great books that fulfill their dreams. I want to read every day. I want to continue to be the world’s #1 aunt. I want to never lose my taste for community service and helping others.