I finished reading Rising Strong last week. I flew through it, and I can’t wait to go back over it more carefully, giving myself time and energy to absorb it all more thoroughly. As previously stated, I don’t like writing book reviews, but I do like listing takeaways – things Brene Brown writes and says and preaches that I would like to remember and to practice in my everyday life.
Sidebar: Sometimes I am writing or talking about Dr. Brown and I feel like I am totally all over the place. How do I take my thoughts and keep them organized? How do I take my feelings and my reactions to Rising Strong and other Brene Brown works and put them together in a way that makes sense, to me and to others? Sometimes lists help me; I’m going to give that a try.
One of my favorite takeaways from Dr. Brown’s previous books is this: You can’t selectively numb.
I numb. I numb when dealing with anger, sadness, uncertainty, stress, physical discomfort. But, says Dr. Brown, when you numb sadness, you also numb joy, excitement, contentment. You can’t choose what you numb. That statement is profound, and is helping me to take steps toward engaging with emotion rather than fighting it off.
Sometimes, though, I want to numb! I want to be released from whatever exhausting emotion is ruling my universe. On those days, I have to remind myself that trying to cover up my feelings with TV, Skittles, and diet Cokes also keeps me from noticing the sunshine all around me.
Brene Brown Takeaway # 2: You can’t skip Day Two.
In Rising Strong, Dr. Brown talks about The Daring Way, a community of practitioners who are certified in Dr. Brown’s work. The practitioners participate in a three-day intensive training in order to become certified. (There may be other components involved in the certification, but I don’t know what they are.) Dr. Brown talks about how Day Two is always the worst day of this training – it’s the day when “we are moving into the shame and worthiness part of the curriculum, and people are feeling raw.”
I think there’s a Day Two involved in just about every life experience. You start something, and you feel energized and awesome – then you move into the grunt work part, at which point you either abandon the quest or suffer through Day Two – and then you get to the awesome, proud final phase.
I suck at Day Two. Day Two is usually the part when I stop taking care of myself, stop moving, start numbing. But – you can’t skip it. It’s non-negotiable, as Dr. Brown says. That’s important for me to remember.
Brene Brown Takeaway # 3: Your ego is your inner hustler.
“Our ego is the part of us that cares about our status and what other people think, about always being better than and always being right. I think of my ego as my inner hustler. It’s always telling me to compare, prove, please, perfect, outperform, and compete. Our inner hustlers have very little tolerance for discomfort and self-reflection.”
-Brene Brown, Rising Strong
I’ve learned a lot about ego since I went into recovery three years ago, and I’m always learning more. My ego thinks that I can do anything if I struggle hard enough. (I tend to use struggle when Dr. Brown uses hustle.) It thinks that if I struggle hard enough, I can control the universe.
I’ve been struggling lately. A lot. And I’m trying to stop struggling.
In fact, I’m trying to stop thinking that if I struggle hard enough, things will be better. Struggling has never been effective for me; what’s been effective for me is learning to let go. Living in the present. Trusting that the universe keeps everything in balance and that things will fall into place.
I’m sure that I’ll have more takeaways as I reread; I’ve been reading the book out loud to Tee, which is a way for me to re-experience the book. Plus, I get to introduce it to Tee! Look for more takeaways in the future.