Book club: Rising Strong by Brené Brown

Hi! Welcome to book club, our little corner of the internet where we can all sit down with a cup of tea, read on our own schedules and then share what we learned. Perfect for our introverted lifestyle.

All joking aside, Nicole and I got to meet face to face a handful of times to discuss the book Rising Strong by Brené Brown. We spent most of February and some of March mulling the lessons of the book around and sipping lattes, it was fabulous.

Here’s some of the things we learned;

NG: I learned a lot about myself and in some ways I have a better understanding of, what I like to call, my anxious brain. I’m often critical of guides that promise X number of steps to make life sparkle with rainbows. I am on Team Glass Half Empty. I appreciate Brené Brown for her practicality and honesty. She doesn’t make promises of a life free from heartbreak and hurt feelings because hey, that’s life, right? Brene reassures us that a conscious effort to rumble with those emotions can lead to healing. It’s all about taking responsibility for our reactions, which for me, is pretty life-changing. In many ways, this book has redefined my perceptions of strength and helped me realized my own quiet courage.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes/passages:

 “The story I’m making up is…”

Ah! This was completely life changing for me. Anxious brain’s best skill is making up stories and running with assumptions. I am currently making efforts to be more honest with myself and with those I love. It takes a lot of courage to talk about our assumptions and can even be embarrassing. But admitting that you may be making a situation up can be so freeing.

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

As I mentioned before, Brené completely redefined my ideas of strength and courage. Vulnerability is scary territory but breaking down those walls we build and opening up is actually what can give us the most strength.

“Having the courage to reckon with our emotions and to rumble with our stories is the path to writing our brave new ending and the path that leads to wholeheartedness. It’s also the beginning. Understanding our fall and rise, owning our story, taking responsibility for our emotions—this is where the revolutions starts.”

Clearly, the theme of courage is really resonating with me. And I really just want to hug her for giving me all the words I could never think of myself.

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

These words are something I hope to hold on to when life feels really hard and too big to handle. As a person who often feels alien in her own skin, I am starting to realize I am not alone in my anxieties, my frustrations and my questions. Growing up can be hard for anyone and most of the time I felt uncomfortable because of this odd (possibly imaginary) pressure to prove my worth. I understand now that I don’t owe anything to anyone who doesn’t appreciate me for simply being me. And while it’s taken me 20-something years to find some real gems of friends I can truly rely on, I’m beginning to slowly lower my defenses. I don’t have to choose isolation. And I’m quite grateful for the comfort I’ve found in the relationships I have now.

You-Cant-Skip-Day-1 (1)AF:  Here are some of my biggest takeaways from the book. Just a note that there were many but these are some that I keep referring two and are helping me grow the most right now.

“You Can’t Skip Day Two”

Day two, or whatever that middle space is for your own process, is when you’re “in the dark”—the door has closed behind you. You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light” Brené’s section on what she calls “Day Two” was so eye opening for me. It was something I’ve so desperately needed to hear. It’s something that I feel our society needs to hear. It’s her way of communicating to us that we can’t have it instantly. We can’t skip the hard part, the messy part. It’s part of it. Knowing that it’s just part of the process makes it so much easier to forge ahead in the hard, dark parts. WE CAN’T SKIP DAY TWO, we just need to keep going. “Just keep swimming”.

 “Experience and success don’t give you easy passage through the middle space of struggle. They only grant you a little grace, a grace that whispers, “this is part of the process. Stay the course”

Experience does not create even a single spark of light in the darkness of the middle space. It only instills in you a little bit of faith in your ability to navigate the dark. The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens.” This quote is said so much more eloquently than I could say it. But, I’ve used part of it s a mantra for the past month or so. “The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens”. If it truly is where the magic happens I know for sure it’s a part I can’t skip. I’ve seen Harry Potter, and I know the true value of finding and keeping ‘magic’ alive in our own lives.

“People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.”

I love this one, I love that she uses the word ‘wade’ I feel like that could be part of my job description. 24/7 I am wading through my thoughts. I find alot of affirmation in this piece, that I’m not just a loner, but that all of my wallowing and wading could be worth something big, like story.

“Living BIG: Boundaries, Integrity, and Generosity. Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”

Boundaries and integrity are a big part of who I am and part of what ensures that I am both comfortable and successful. I just loved Brené’s definition for Integrity. The more adult I’ve become I’ve realized that so much of my life, so much of my happiness, my feeling of security and success comes from me choosing courage over comfort. It takes waking up and doing what is right and best for you and those around you that day. It means there is a lot of self sacrifice that goes on but I ultimately agree that it’s by choosing to practice our values that we start creating the life we’ve always envisioned.

Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted


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