It is my goal in life to read all of Brené Brown's books and so far I am winning. Out of all the ones I've read so far, Rising Strong may be the most impactful one yet and all because of one simple question: what's the story you're telling yourself?
Nonfiction, psychology, self-help
No content warnings yet.
Social scientist Brené Brown has ignited a global conversation on courage, vulnerability, shame, and worthiness. Her pioneering work uncovered a profound truth: Vulnerability--the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome--is the only path to more love, belonging, creativity, and joy. But living a brave life is not always easy: We are, inevitably, going to stumble and fall.
It is the rise from falling that Brown takes as her subject in Rising Strong. As a grounded theory researcher, Brown has listened as a range of people--from leaders in Fortune 500 companies and the military to artists, couples in long-term relationships, teachers, and parents--shared their stories of being brave, falling, and getting back up. She asked herself, What do these people with strong and loving relationships, leaders nurturing creativity, artists pushing innovation, and clergy walking with people through faith and mystery have in common? The answer was clear: They recognize the power of emotion and they're not afraid to lean in to discomfort. (Source)
Putting the Pieces Together
I didn't know the concept of shame triggers until I read Daring Greatly and then I Thought It Was Just Me, but I've already integrated that language into my daily vocabulary. After all the TedTalks I've watched of Brené's and her Netflix original, it took reading Rising Strong for it all to click into place.
Brené herself has said that Daring Greatly laid the groundwork, but Rising Strong is how we can take those moments of Daring and learn from them. It's a practice of resilience, of getting back up even when we fall and fail.
Shame Triggers and Autism
One of my biggest shame triggers is being seen as apathetic or uncaring. In terms of comforting others when they're upset I struggle to know what to do and what to say, but more than that I have a limited capacity of energy that I can put towards these situations.
It's often discussed in the Autism community that we don't all have low empathy, that some of us are hyper empathic. And while that may be true for some, I don't think it's true of me, at least not in the traditional sense of how we define empathy. I care and I care deeply, but I express it in different ways from the norm.
Now that I know I'm autistic and Brown's books have given me the language I need to express myself, I can articulate this shame - to others, yes, but also to myself.
The Stories We Tell
The most impactful piece that came out of this book, for me, is the question: what is the story you're telling yourself.
In the book, Brené shares a story when her family was on vacation and her and her husband went for a swim across the lake. Brené was trying to be vulnerable with him, but she felt she was being written off. She confronts her husband about this and they each speak of the story they're telling to themselves. Brené was worried her husband didn't like her new bathing suit, that she wasn't attractive anymore. Meanwhile her husband had been having a panic attack across the lake because he was so used to swimming pools and hadn't swam in open water in a long time. Through this vulnerability they prevented an often repeated argument they'd had many times before.
For myself, this question has allowed me to step back on more than occasion and confront my anxious thoughts and assumptions. It's something I think could benefit everyone, individually, and on a relational level. Conflicts, I find, arise more so because of the things we don't say than the things we do. We're either too scared or too ashamed to speak them, but that's what vulnerability is all about. We need to take those risks and dare to speak our shame.
If you're interested in this Rising Strong process I highly recommend you read the full book. It only took me two or three days to get through, and will give you a better understanding of the steps to take than what I've covered above.
In the table below, I've shared what books I've already read and what the ones I still need to read. I do own Dare to Lead, but the other two are just on my Storygraph TBR list for now.
I Thought It Was Just Me
The Gifts of Imperfection
Braving the Wilderness
Dare to Lead
You Are Your Best Thing
Atlas of the Heart