Rising strong is about being emotionally honest and vulnerable and facing your mistakes and shortcomings bravely and without self-blame will bring wisdom and personal evolution. This candid openness also will enhance your ability to connect to other people, to love and to accept love.
The Rising Strong Process: The Reckoning, The Rumble and The Revolution
Brown describes a three-step strategy for dealing with failures, setbacks or trauma, coping with blunders and “facing hurt.”
- First, to recover from any of these events and to own an accurate narrative of what happened to them, we must “reckon with our emotions.”
They must embrace what they feel, not deny it since our emotions affect their “thoughts and behaviours.”
- Second, to come back from disappointment, you must “rumble” with your narrative.
“Revisit, challenge and reality-check” the truth of the tales you tell yourself.
Face your “boundaries, shame, blame, resentment, heartbreak, generosity and forgiveness.”
We need to own our narrative.
- To come back from hurtful situations and thrive once again, weave what you learn from reckoning and rumbling into all your daily activities.
If you examine yourself and your actions bravely, you will be empowered to respond to new challenges as a different and much stronger you.
Rising Strong and Yoda’s Teachings
She describes “the cave in Yoda’s swamp” as a place where you hide from yourself those feelings or actions you’d rather not face up to own. Or, worse, it’s a place where, in the face of a failure large or small, you go to ground and tell yourself one negative story after another, undermining your “self-worth and value.”
As Yoda would, Brown urges you to leave that mindset, not to “try but to do.” Taking positive action involves separating the negative, despairing messages you send yourself in the swamp from the true reality of your life. When you recognize that the voices attacking you are telling lies, you can rebound from a loss.
Through the Looking Glass
One aspect of Brown’s writing that so connects her to her readers is her willingness to expose nearly to revel in her own insecurities, shortcomings, vanities, and flaws. She details her difficult setbacks and how they manifest as she believes they do for everyone. She describes her tendency to divide the world into the worthy herself and others who abide by the rules she finds valuable and those who don’t.
Breaking the world into this no-middle-ground dichotomy felt good and might make Brown feel righteous. Yet, through diligent work, she learned that this point of view also blinded her. After consideration, she realized that if she kept dividing the world with such rigidity, one day she would notice her own rat-like behaviour.
To avoid resenting those who wronged her, Brown understood she had to curb self-righteousness. She says she had to become more responsible (and more courageous) about “asking for what I need and want.” Falling back on “It’s not fair” or “I deserve” means abdicating accountability for her own well-being. If she didn’t get what she deserved, Brown now asks, whose fault is that?
Today, when something makes Brown uncomfortable, she makes a conscious effort not to “numb” herself. She wants to know what she feels and why, and she offers that as a path.
Brown connects her desire to support others with her desire to avoid asking for help for herself. If you attack yourself because you need assistance, you unconsciously attack those who come to you for assistance. If you simply offer aid as a gift, you are more likely to regard yourself with kindness when you must ask for help. If you build your self-worth around being that person who always helps others, is careful that you don’t undermine your sense of self-worth when your time comes to ask for their help. Yes, providing help to other people takes courage and empathy, but it takes as much courage and maybe even more empathy to accept help for yourself.
Gifts of Imperfection
Brown closes the book with “10 guideposts for wholehearted living.” Each one is a worthy, memorable mantra, idea or inspiration.
In her 10 rules, Brown urges readers to cultivate each of these traits:
- “authenticity” by “letting go of what others think”;
- “self-compassion” by rejecting “perfectionism”;
- a “resilient spirit” by relinquishing feeling numbed and helpless;
- “gratitude and joy” by giving up “scarcity and fear of the dark”;
- “intuition” by escaping the “need for certainty”;
- “creativity” by renouncing “comparison”;
- “play and rest” by not confusing your output with your value;
- “calm” by refusing to vest in angst;
- “meaningful work” by giving up insecurity; and
- “laughter” by forsaking your need to be “cool and always in control.”