Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Rising Strong by Brene Brown — Upon finishing a book, I’m giving myself a homework assignment to complete a book report. This allows me to consume the book from a different lens and mindset while forcing myself to reflect on what I’ve just read as a whole. 

Brene Brown seems to write exactly what I’m feeling in a way I can understand. They are a-ha moments of self-discovery. The underlining truth to all of this is that it’s pretty simple, but yet the most difficult as we are our biggest obstacle.

I feel the words written between the covers of Rising Strong are all the things that we as humans fundamentally know, but at the same time we don’t because of the masks and facades we create to cover them.

At a certain point in our lives we seem to disconnect from this truth. The truth of who we are. The truth of our stories, the falls, the laying face down in the arena while everyone watches.

These are the very things that shape our lives. But yet, we live each day trying to forget them as if that’s what leads a wholehearted life.

Rising Strong is about the reckoning, the rumble and the revolution of our falls; falling, learning, getting back up and doing it again. At the heart of this book is about the really dangerous stories we make up when we are at the heart of our struggles. We become hooked to them as if they are the reality.

It’s about shedding away the confabulations we tell ourselves and honing in on the realities and truths for what they are and understanding that we are the authors of those stories. We decide what happens next. We get to write the daring ending.

I chose to read this book because Daring Greatly has been a pivotal book for me on this journey of intentional self growth. One I reference frequently as I travel and lead a life of intentional self growth. Therefore, I had to see what she was sharing next with Rising Strong.

Also, I chose this book because being face down in the arena left me stuck under a rock for some time, but then this funny thing (a realization) hit me, it was up to me to get back up.

I had to choose to fight this great battle of a struggle. The fall that led me being face down in the arena, and then the battle with the struggle, has forever changed my life. I wanted to put words and perspective to that thought process.

Here’s the book report:

2 new facts or ideas I have learned from reading Rising Strong

Shitty first draft – The most effective way to foster awareness is by writing down our stories, the conspiracies and confabulations, along with the cold hard truth. To see it on paper.

Once that pen begins moving back and forth the story begins to pour out. Let it pour, let the child-like tyrant pour onto the page and let it romp all over the place. No one see’s this. The idea is to just write the words that the voice in your head is muttering. Let it speak through you and to get it onto the page. Let it release.

The release alone lifts the weight of those thoughts. The words on the page provide some kind of clarity. The goal here is to just get it out; true, false, lies, justifications, fabrications, all of it. Get it out.

Stealth Expectations – “Disappointment is unmet expectations, and the more significant the expectations, the more significant the disappointment (Tweet this).”

“The way to address this is to be upfront about our expectations by taking time to reality-check what we’re expecting and why. Expectations often coast along under our radar, making themselves known only after they have bombed something we had high hopes for into rubble.”

The one thing that helped me understand the information in Rising Strong better

What I enjoyed about this book are the stories. The real stories of struggle, disappointment, unmet expectations, confabulations and conspiracies. Stories allow us to connect.

As unique as the details may seem, the feelings are universal, thus, story brings us together. That’s what I enjoyed the most and that’s what tied all the findings and data points and processes together.

The one piece of information I found most interesting in Rising Strong

Wholehearted living. So, the whole book.

It’s so fascinating to me that our wholehearted selves are just beneath the surface, but yet, we can go our whole lives without ever scratching the surface leaving it in the shadows until death.

It’s a shame that we can live a lifetime without ever truly living through our wholehearted selves. The truth. Our true selves. It hurts me to see people running from their history, a past hurt, believing that this is the path to freedom.

The opposite is true. The harder we run away from the hurt and struggles of our past, the less freedom we actually have. Something that seems so easy on paper (confront your pain, own it, accept it for what it is, accept that it’s part of your story) goes a lifetime without ever putting any kind of action towards it.

We can go our entire life fearing the very notion of confronting this pain. We can go an entire lifetime staring fear in the face, allowing it to defeat us, drown us in our own self guilt and shame.

The fascinating and magical thing is that it doesn’t have to be that way. Staring fear in the face and choosing to take action, not running further away, but moving closer to the hurt, the pain, and the struggle will pave a path to wholehearted living.

Until then, it’s tunnel vision with layers of hurt. Your soul wants to break through, but your hands are tied. Your creativity want’s to discover and wonder and explore, but your legs are stuck in the mud.

Questions that I still have after reading Rising Strong

The wisdom that is garnered through our falls, how do we create the space to fall for others who are overly cautious and non-risk takers? How do we, or can we, nudge them to a space of falling knowing that the term society places on it is failure, but upon wisdom being gleaned from it, turns into a “learning experience”?

How do we get others to fall? How do we make it part of the dialogue with our youth, our colleagues, our partners? How does it become part of society and not the outlier of it?

New vocabulary or terms I learned from reading Rising Strong

Reckoning – “Men and women who rise strong are willing and able to reckon with their emotions. First, they organize that they are feeling something… Second, they get curious about what’s happening and how what they are feeling is connected to their thoughts and behaviors. Engaging in this process is how we walk into our story.”

Rumble – “Men and women who rise strong are willing and able to rumble with their stories… they get honest with the stories they’ve made up about their struggles and are willing to revisit , challenge and reality check these narratives… the rumble is where wholeheartedness is cultivated and change begins.”

Revolution – Revolutionary change fundamentally changes our thoughts and beliefs. “Men and women who rise strong integrate their key learnings that emerge from the rising strong process into how they live, love, lead, parent and participate as citizens. This has tremendous ramifications not only for their own lives, but also their families, organizations and communities.”

Integrating – Is the engine that moves us through the rising strong process; the reckoning, the rumbling and the revolution.

Emotional Bandwidth – Judgement and anger take up emotional bandwidth. We have only so much disk space, unnecessary emotional baggage eats away at that space. It’s knowing when to make a change, to cut ties, to release that anger or judgement in order to free up the emotional space for feeding the good wolf.

Stealth Expectations – “…expectations often coast along under our radar, making themselves known only after they have bombed something we had high hopes for into rubble.”

The most interesting quotes from Brene Brown in Rising Strong

“Vulnerability is not a weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

“Rising strong changes not just you, but also the people around you.”

“Choosing to write your own story means getting uncomfortable; it’s choosing courage over comfort.”

“Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty.”

“Recognizing and feeling our way through the emotion is choosing freedom.”

“If you are struggling, your partner and children are also in the struggle.”

“When you judge yourself for needing help, you judge those you are helping. When you attach value to giving help, you attach value to needing help.”

“If you don’t put value on your work, no one is going to do that for you.”

“When we stop caring what people think, we lose or capacity for connection. But when we are defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable.”

“Our identities are always changing and growing, they’re not meant to be pinned down.”

“… running from the past is the surest way to be defined by it.”

“We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to.”

“The wisdom in the stories of our falls make us braver.”

My favorite quote by Brene Brown from Rising Strong

If you are struggling, your partner and children are also in the struggle. — Brene Brown Tweet this

This hits home. This is why I have taken a vow to always take care of myself first; physically, emotionally and spiritually. As “selfish” as this might appear to a non-intentional individual, it’s quite the opposite. It’s selfless.

Realizing that my struggle was creating friction in my family because it became their struggle shifted everything for me. It made me realize that nothing is going to get better, overall, with them or myself if I didn’t start looking myself in the mirror and coming to terms with the pain and darkness.

I realized that if I didn’t just accept the “failure” for what it is/was and move forward, nothing was going to get better. I had to care an awful lot for anything to change.

As I devoted my doing to being intentional towards this shift, or this idea of a shift, a funny thing started to happen. The lens in which I saw this very “failure” began to change.

I soon began to change my dialogue from referring to it as a big failure to being grateful for the experience in which being face down in the arena brought.

Because of this my life has changed. And more importantly, my family tree has changed. Because in the end “my struggles are also my partner’s and children’s struggle.”

I am grateful for experiencing this shift (this failure) when it did for it has impacted me as a parent and has transcended into who my children are and who they are becoming.

Rising Strong is a book we all need to read and reread. Regardless if you are currently in the arenea face down with struggle or not, it will equip you for the next one. Life will bring you another struggle, that is a certainty. Having the space in a crowded mind and awareness to pull out these nuggets of action so that you can be brave enough to get back up while in the arena will forever change your life. Enjoy!

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About Eric Ungs

Eric Ungs writes about a journey of intentional self growth, nudging you to let go; to give yourself permission to be vulnerable and honest with yourself so you can give your best self to others. Author of 10 Incredible Ways to Live a Fulfilling and Joyful Life ebook.

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