In celebration of Brene Brown’s latest book release Rising Strong and the recent conclusion of Social Yoga’s successful book club centered on Gifts of Imperfection, I thought it would be apt to take a look at some of the lessons I’ve learned through reading Brene Brown’s books. If you’ve checked out my writer’s bio under Social Fam, you know that I am a passionate studier of all things Brene. Even if you don’t think you know of her, chances are you saw her viral TED Talk centered on the Power of Vulnerability, one of the most popular TED Talks of all time (it’s been viewed over 20 MILLION times on the TED Talks website—yowza). Brown lives in Texas where she is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She considers herself a storyteller and a shame researcher, using the study of emotions such as anger, shame, and guilt as entry points to better understand how we can strategically use emotional vulnerability to engage more deeply and more authentically with those around us in our quest to live our dream life.
1. Gifts of Imperfection
“We cannot selectively numb emotions, when we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” —Brene Brown, Gifts of Imperfection
Feeling vulnerable is deeply uncomfortable. It means grappling with our demons, our insecurities. It means sitting with our shame and guilt, leaning into the discomfort in order to gain valuable insight. Many people without realizing it decide that this discomfort is too much to bear and choose to numb themselves. This might mean overeating, a Netflix binge, drinking alcohol, doing drugs, shopping—numbing addictions come in many forms. What you might not realize is that there is no thing as selective numbing. If we are too scared to feel the negative emotions, we accidentally also dull out our incredible joys and epiphanies. You either choose to engage with the uncomfortable valleys in order to experience the election of the peaks or you choose to live your life in a grey zone, simple as that.
2.) Daring Greatly
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.”// “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can't survive.” —Brene Brown
Brene describes shame as taking the form of gremlins that are constantly whispering into your ear. They are the voices in your head saying you’re not good enough, using evidence of how people react and respond to you against you. They are powerful simply because we don’t feel comfortable talking about them; however, negative feelings grow and fester in the darkness and as soon as we can shed some light on them through talking through our feelings with someone else, it’s as if our gremlins are vampires and we’ve just thrown the heavy curtains back to expose the sunshine. It may be scary and the gremlins will tell you it won’t help, but as soon as you start to talk about your shame and your insecurities, they no longer define you. It’s a crucial first step in the healing process.
3.) Rising Strong
“We don’t judge people when we feel good about ourselves.” —Brene Brown
Through Brene, I’ve learned a powerful trigger that signals to me that there’s something in my life that I’m not addressing which is holding me back emotionally—I start judging others. This was a huge key to improving my relationships, with others as well as myself. When I start falling into the negative talk and comparing myself to others, it’s a sign that I’m unhappy. This has become a vey powerful tool for me to realize when I need to sit back and do some serious reflection about where my emotional blockages are. This in turn has helped me avoid ignoring these blocks until they burst out in the form of an emotional breakdown of waterworks and intense emotions, which is the cycle of repression and over-expression I used to find myself endlessly repeating.
Have I peaked your interest? Are you curious about the world of Brene Brown, but find yourself unsure which book would be best for you? Brene says it best (and most succinctly) in a quote pulled from Rising Strong: “Here’s how I see the progression of my work: The Gifts of Imperfection—Be you. Daring Greatly—Be all in. Rising Strong—Fall. Get up. Try again.” She suggests to read them chronologically (Gifts first, then Daring Greatly, finishing with Rising Strong); however, I believe it’s important to consider what area of the journey you feel you most need help in the present.
Choose Gifts of Imperfection first if you want to get to know yourself better. This is a great place to start if you feel you have patterns in your life that keep repeating despite your best efforts (you date the wrong people, your friends abandon you, etc.). In Gifts of Imperfection, you receive lots of useful definitions and metaphors to understand complicated emotional concepts such as shame, guilt, and worthiness).
Choose Daring Greatly first if you’re seeking inspiration to take a leap of faith. You might be about to graduate university, considering leaving your job, debating a big move, etc. Daring Greatly will offer you plenty of tools and the courage to take that leap into the unknown despite not knowing what you might find on the other side.
Choose Rising Strong first if you find yourself too wrapped up in the fear of failure. Perhaps you take failures hard and personally, making it hard to pick yourself back up and try again. Perhaps your fear of failure is so great it keeps you from taking the chances that will help you lead the kind of life you want. Rising Strong will arm you with the tools to craft a new definition for failure and empower you to embrace the learning inherently present in failure.
This post was written by our girl Mara- you can learn more about her & read more of her work on her personal site: http://www.mfalstein.com