Ep. 96: Book Review: Brene Brown’s Rising Strong

    Our book review for April is Brene Brown’s Rising Strong. The entire premise of the book is how to get back up when life has thrown you down. Given that every one of us will get knocked down in life, learning how to rise and write your own story is one of the greatest skills we can cultivate.
    Especially during this uncertain time of a global pandemic, Brene Brown’s insights can help us weather the storm and regain some control.
    Here is what we cover in this episode:
    - What the 3 steps of Rising Strong include
    - Why it’s so important to get curious about your emotions
    - Why the messy middle is a non-negotiable
    - How to deal with grief
    - How to own your story
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    Show Transcript:
    Goli: Hey friends, how are you all? Welcome to another episode of Lessons From a Quitter. I'm so excited to have you. If you are just tuning in, I've started doing a book review once a month the last Tuesday of the month and so that's what we'll be doing on this episode and then we'll go back to interviews for the other episodes before we jump in and just want to make sure you guys are all well. The COVID crisis is still in full effect. I was actually just on Twitter and I saw one of our past guests, Paula Pant post something along the lines of: She's having a really hard time focusing and she was asking if anybody else felt that way and everybody obviously responded and was like, yeah, I can't do anything. I used to devour books in one day and I can't even read. All these people were talking about how they are feeling this and I just want to bring that up again.
    I know I talked about it in the episode about how to respond to this, that these aren’t normal times, and I'm not trying to say that you should use this as an excuse to lay on the couch all day and eat chips because that'll likely make you feel worse. You have to figure out what you have to do to prioritize your mental health. And maybe that means going for a walk or exercising or taking a shower or maybe laying on the couch and watching TV. But I do think it's a good reminder that it's not just you. I've been having the weekly coaching calls and it comes up a lot where I can't seem to get motivated right now. I can't focus. And it's like, yeah, because there's a lot happening in our brains and we are not used to dealing with this level of uncertainty.
    And so it causes a lot of us to constantly want to check the news, which I don't recommend. But I just want you to understand that whatever you're feeling right now is normal and it's okay. And if you are focused, that's great too. But I think that a lot of times what our brain does is tricks us into thinking that it's just us that for whatever reason we just can't get it together. I really want to dispel that myth in general, but particularly in this time because it is a difficult time. I know I feel like the range of emotions on a daily basis and so I want you didn't know that is okay. We're okay. This week I'm reviewing Bernie Brown’s Rising Strong. I have to tell you that this was the first of the three books that I've done before this. I had read them all and I loved them.
    I felt very sure in recommending them and reviewing them. I had not read this book and it was recommended by a friend, so I thought, you know, it is about how to get back up when we stumble and fall, which so many of us do and I think, I think in a time like this I figured it would probably be helpful. So I read it with you all. Whoever has read it. I have to say in the beginning I didn't love it. I was kind of getting scared and I was like, Ugh, I don't know why I recommended this. I liked it. But it seemed, I dunno how to, I'm not fluffy, but let's just say I wasn't as in love with it as I was with Big Magic or Martha Beck's book Finding Your Own North Star. But as I continued to read, I do think it is very valuable and I think that she talks about a lot of stuff that are really important and that can help, especially if you feel like you are in a position where you have failed or fallen.
    You know? And I think that we create these meanings around these events. We go straight to this didn't work out. So that not only means I failed at that, but it means that I am a failure and I will never be happy and I am not lovable. You know? I mean we just go to such extremes and it is really helpful to see that everybody goes through this and that our brain is making up stories and she gives a lot of tactics that I think are really helpful in how to deal with that stuff. The book really does go through how to rise strong as she talks about it in various instances, like whether it's with vulnerability or shame or identity or nostalgia or grief or forgiveness, whatever. And so each thing kind of has its own little chapter. Our segment, we're obviously not going to go through all of that, but what I do want to talk about as a general theme and how I think that it relates to a lot of people that listen to this podcast and a lot of people that are really struggling with finding another career or wanting to get out and reading it now.
    Aye wish I had a lot of these lessons when I was going through it because I did think that I was just crazy and that it was just me. And it's really helpful to see how this applies in kind of this career journey. So I'm just going to talk about it in that sense. Basically the entire process of rising strong that she talks about is three phases, reckoning, rumble and revolution. The reckoning is basically really coming to terms with the fact that you have either fallen or you're becoming aware of whatever the problem is. The rumble is really going through it, going through the mental and emotional anguish and rumbling with it to figure out how to write your own narrative and how to rise from that. And the revolution is how you rise and how you kind of keep going. Okay, so starting with the reckoning, this seems like a simple thing accepting what has happened, right?
    Accepting maybe that something didn't turn out the way we want. It's something that has caused us grief or pain or trauma in some way. It's actually really difficult and the reason is that none of us have been taught how to sit with our discomfort or our vulnerability. None of us have been taught how to deal with pain. And so we are taught how to dump it and pretend it's not happening and move on. And what happens often is that we will keep doing things and ignoring what is actually happening, which happens a lot of times in the context of these types of career changes. So many of us, no, that we are unhappy, no, that we've picked, let's say the wrong career. And yet it is so painful to think about the loss of that identity changing all the work that comes with having to do that.
    So we just keep going year after year and we pretend to maybe not see the pain or we see the pain, but we don't know what to do with it. And so we ignore it. It's oppressive, we numb it, we distract ourselves. So I really want to highlight the fact that just accepting that I have fallen, that doesn't mean that I'm a failure. It doesn't mean all these things that we like to create. But as she talks about, you cannot rumble. You can't rewrite your own story if you're not willing to acknowledge it. I love that she says, that hurt happens to all of us without exception. The only decision we get to make is what role it will play in our lives. Do we want to write the story or do we want to hand the power over to someone else? One truism of wholehearted living is you either walk into your story and own your truth or you live outside of your story hustling for your worthiness.
    I love that ending so much because that is so much of what all of us do is if I just keep going, if maybe if I make it to the next level, maybe if I get that promotion, maybe then it'll somehow fix any everything right and our story gets written, but it isn't in our control where letting other factors and other people control the outcome of that and I think it's really important to acknowledge that you have to decide. You have to decide to do it and engage with your feelings and to realize that something is happening. She says, the process of this is engaged, wanting, engaging with your feelings and to getting curious about the story behind those feelings. I love that she uses the word like getting curious because I think what happens is typically we might engage with our feelings or we find our feelings and then we're so ashamed of them or we feel so guilty for having them.
    We jumped to the story that we've made about it, right? We've created some kind of story about what it says about us. And so really being able to put the judgment aside and just get curious about what that story is saying about you and why you're making it mean something is so key. And she talks about how we have such a hard time with curiosity because choosing to be curious requires you to be vulnerable because you don't have certainty. You're going into something cause you don't know how it's going to turn out. And a lot of us have learned that curiosity can hurt. And so start choosing certainty even to our own detriment. She says that we need to be brave to want to know about our emotions. And I think that's so true. I love it. She says that curiosity is a shit-starter because once you start engaging with your feelings, you feel like it invites trouble.
    Maybe you learn something that you don't want to know. Maybe the hurt is just going to be too much and you don't know how to deal with it because again, we haven't been taught with that, but denying that or ignoring it doesn't mean it goes away. It festers. It grows. It defines you. That becomes your story. I always like to talk to the people in my programs about the fact that you're choosing your pain, right? Yes. It's painful to deal with the fact that your life didn't turn out the way that you wanted or all of these visions that you have didn't come to fruition or you got there and it was different and you have to go through the painstaking journey of really uncovering who you are and what you want, but doing something you don't want for the rest of your life and looking back is also painful.
    The pain of regret and realizing that you, mr. Opportunity at this one life to live it the way that you wanted. That is also painful and it's sort of kicking the can down the road. But I mean maybe not because I think it's also painful to be frustrated and feel unfulfilled and feel like there's something missing and have that hurt kind of buried deep within it. So you've got to pick your poison, right? It's hard to deal with emotions 100% but what can come from it is so beautiful and such a feeling of being whole and alive and understanding yourself. Don't trick yourself into thinking that just by not dealing with it, you're avoiding pain. Somehow she talks about how that is the first step and I think it's one of them, the major steps, cause obviously you can't get to the rumble if you don't have the reckoning.
    And so it really comes to a point where you're willing to face yourself in the mirror and accept that it's going to be hard. Now, the other thing that I actually think is genius in this book, and it really put language to something that I've been thinking about for a really long time, is what she calls day two she says you can't skip day two and in the book, cheers referring to day two, day two of her three day seminar and she talks about how day two is really the hard day and it's no fun and it's, you know, everybody hates it but you can't skip it cause that's where the magic happens. That's where all the growth happens. And she likens this in this story of you know, your hero's journey of you finding out a problem and then doing this rumble. Day two is the messy middle and it's in the dark and she talks about how this is the part where the door closes behind you and you're too far in to turn around and you're not close enough yet to the end to see the light.
    It's the point of no return. And it's where it's raw and where you really have to face your demons. But it's a non negotiable part. And I love this because I see it so much and I did this. I say this with the utmost compassion. I still do this. We notice a problem in our life and we just want to fix it. We just want to know where that end result. We just want to get to that success, right? And so many people I talk to are just looking for that answer of what is the right career for me? And they take these aptitude tests and they talk to career counselors and they're so frustrated and it's because you're skipping the entire middle part where you have to actually figure out who you are and what you like and what you would be doing if you didn't take on all of societies programming and socializing of what you should do.
    You know, you spent your whole life following what teachers and parents and everybody else told you you should do. And you've sort of lost yourself in that. [inaudible] Is a journey to discover that and it is a painful and a tough journey, but it is so worth it. Without it. You don't just magically come up with this right answer of what you should be doing and it always reminds me of, I don't know if it's Jim Rohn who said this quote, there've been a ton of different variations of the quotes. I don't know who the original person was, but the quote was something like the major value of achieving your goals is not to acquire it, but it's the person you become while acquiring it and now having gone through this part of the journey for myself and I have many other rumblings that I ha I have to do in my life, I see how true that is.
    I look at myself now where I am and it's not whatever business I have or the podcast I have or the community, it's I am a completely different person than I was five years ago. I had to deal with my people pleasing issues and my worry of what everybody else thinks and my need to be liked and my need to do what, you know, people thought was successful and my identity that was wrapped up in that I had to hustle to prove my worth. You know? And I felt like if I wasn't productive and somehow I wasn't good enough, whatever, all of that stuff was extremely painful. It's still something I'm working on. But dealing with that has changed every aspect of my life, not just my career. And yes, it has given me unbelievable parenting and what I want in my life, but it was really soul crushing work.
    Right? Because it's almost as if you're killing off an old identity. I hate having to be the bearer of bad news when people ask me about how they find their calling because there is no right answer and it requires you to go through this journey of figuring out who you are. In the book she talks about meeting with the people from Pixar and how they talk about the hero's journey in movies. And how it's, you know, the same kind of hero arc, but she was saying day two is when the protagonist looks for every comfortable way to solve the problem. But by the climax he learns that it's really going to take to solve the problem. And that is the lowest of the low because he realized how hard it's going to be. And again, we've all seen this, right?
    We've never seen a movie where the protagonist doesn't have hardships or it's not a difficult process. If figuring out what your dream career was going to be, it would be easy. Everybody would have their dream career by now, right? If it was just an answer that you could take a 20 question test online and then they can tell you what your perfect career is, then I wouldn't have a badass and we wouldn't need to have this discussion. And yet we're always looking for that tactic or looking for that right answer. We get overwhelmed because we're just, we don't know where to look. And you need to look inside... And it sounds woo woo. But the reality of it is it's like you have to figure out who you are. And so I honestly think the best thing out of this book was really figuring out this concept of the day-two or the messy middle because that is, it's the scariest thing.
    And I see so many people resisting or so many people staying in careers that they hate because they know what's coming, right? They know that it doesn't just work like you quit and then it's going to be all great. I really want to encourage you not to shy away from that part because that is where the magic happens. That is where you discover who you are and it is painful and it is beautiful and it's incredible and it is necessary. So if you take nothing else from this podcast or from this book, understand that everyone feels like that. And I'm going to try to do a better job in the interviews to talk with my guests about that because I realized reading this book that I focus a lot on, you know the reckoning of figuring out that you're miserable and knowing you want to jump.
    And then we talk a lot about the revolution where you've kind of had the success and you figured out the dream career and the messy middle. Every one of my guests has gone through it and I do think that it is a harder time where it's a lot of self doubt. It's a lot of, as you're going through it like is this the right way? Is it not right? There's no light in there, you're just figuring it out. So that was clearly my favorite part. But so you go on from this reckoning and understanding that you have to go through this messy middle into that rumble, which is this messy middle and this day too. And she says that this is the most difficult part because we attach stories to what is happening in our life. And the most difficult part of our story is what we're making up about ourselves or how we're perceived by others.
    And this rumble is where you start owning your own story. And the goal is to get honest about these stories. This is the same kind of stuff that a lot of thought work is around a lot of mindfulness. It's about seeing the patterns in your brain, seeing all of the negative thoughts, seeing the thoughts that you have and understanding that you are putting a filter on that you are putting your bias on, that you are creating it out of thin air sometimes and really being able to be curious instead of judgmental so that you can change that story. And one tactic that she uses that I love and I think is really helpful is when she's talking about what she thinks about a situation that is happening that is painful for her. She [inaudible] the phrase the story I'm making up before it. An example she talks about a fight that she's had with her husband.
    She said that the story she made up was that you don't find me attractive anymore. Right? So instead of just asking, I know you don't find me attractive anymore. Right? (And that's what we all do and we project our thoughts onto other people.) She's taking a step back so she can give her brain and ability to see that it is biased and her husband does the same thing. And I actually think this is a really good tactic. So when you're stuck in something that feels really heavy and hard to deal with, just putting that in front of it can give you a little bit of distance to see that. You are making up a story about whatever it is and you can change that thought and it doesn't mean that it's going to be easy or that it's going to be instantly just because you thought a new thought.
    You may have thought that old thought for years and years and it takes time to change these things. But I think that this is a good tactic to kind of help you be able to observe. And maybe hopefully observe with less judgment and get more curious about the patterns that your brain is creating. And so she goes through the book, like I said, and she deals with each different hard emotion. And she talks about how to rumble with each one and she gives really good examples. So I think that's worth reading if you're dealing with something like perfectionism or you know, failure and whatnot. But one thing that I really love that she talks about is grief. She talks about three foundational elements of grief and she lists them as loss, longing and feeling lost. But it may not be the typical way that we think of loss.
    You know, it's not just losing a person. And I think sometimes just acknowledging the fact that there is grief when you want to leave your job and go do something else. And a lot of times we have a hard time accepting that because we're choosing to leave and we were unhappy. So we wonder why we have these feelings of sadness. And the thing is loss can be the loss of normalcy. The loss of what could be the loss of what you thought you knew or you understood, Oh, there's a loss of that world that you were in. You were going after that prize and you get there and it's not what you thought and that feels like the rug was pulled out from under you. And that is a normal feeling. She talks about longing as being involuntary, yearning for wholeness, for understanding, for meaning.
    The thing is we all want certainty. Our brains are evolved for that. And oftentimes the reason we even get trapped in going after these careers that don't turn out to be the right ones for us is because we think there's certainty at the end of that, right? We think that this is going to be the stable right thing for me and I'm going to get there and I'm going to be happy and then we get there and we're not. And I think when you lose that certainty, it's disorienting. It's okay to understand that this longing of wanting to be in a place where you just love what you do and you climb that ladder and why can't I just be like these other people that seem to be fine here? And the last one is the feeling lost. And I was just saying that a lot of times, it feels as though the rug was pulled out from under you and you have to reorient yourself.
    A lot of us flail about for a while and feel completely lost because we don't know in which direction to go. Nothing it seems right anymore. We always knew, we always knew the path and you knew how to go and now all of a sudden there's no rules. And that is a very scary thing for us as humans because again, we like certainty. And so I just think understanding that, understanding that grief is a part of this process, it's okay to be sad. It doesn't mean anything went wrong. I think a lot of times we ended up staying stuck for a lot longer because we think, well, if I'm sad to leave this, maybe aye can make it work. Or maybe I actually like his career. But it may not be that you're sad to leave the job. It just means that you're sad to leave that identity.
    You're sad that it didn't work out the way you want it and you're sad that you don't get to have the identity of a doctor or a lawyer or whatever. And I know I felt that a lot when I was quitting law and I didn't know what that was and I wish I'd known that. She talks about how through all the research it's basically come up over and over again that writing down these experiences of grief is one of the most helpful ways of clearing that feeling. I think she was saying even a couple of minutes for about four days had proven to vastly make people feel better. And so a lot of times we just store things in our head and clearly that's not the best way. So if you're feeling these feelings, I mean make some time to journal everyday, doesn't have to be that long.
    It could be 10 or 15 minutes and that can help you just understand what you're dealing with and understand the story that you're making up about it and understand the thoughts behind it and why you feel sad about losing that identity. So that was the only emotion and I really wanted to cover, but I think that this rumble, the whole point of the rumble is to really confront that emotion and understand more about yourself and it takes a while and it takes, you know, it's not like as soon as you deal with it, you understand everything. It's uncovering all of your traumas, all of your history, what happened when you were a child, all of these things. It requires you to take a look at them so that you can understand, why do I get triggered with shame when somebody questions my intelligence, why do I get triggered when I worry that people well think I'm dumb for leaving, whatever it is.
    A lot of that is tied into your patterns and your history and it takes time to rumble with that. So obviously that is the majority of the book and I think that's the biggest amount of time that it will take you going through that rumble and figuring out how to come out the other side. And lastly, it's the revolution which is being able to get back up and rise strong and she has a couple of quotes that I love. At the end she says, choosing to live and love with our whole heart is an act of defiance. You're going to confuse, piss off and terrify lots of people, including yourself. One minute you'll pray that the transformation stops and the next minute you'll pray, then it never ends. You'll also wonder how you can feel so brave and so afraid at the same time.
    At least that's how I feel almost at the time. Brave, afraid, and very, very alive. I mean obviously I love this quote. I can say that it resonates so much for me because I've realized now that it's a never ending process and there are definitely days that I just want the transformation to stop. I don't want to keep digging. I don't want to go back to all these painful memories. And then I realized that it's made me feel more whole and more brave and more myself than I've ever felt in my life. And I know we talk about this a lot on the podcast. I ask everybody, you know, if they were afraid and every one of my guests is that of course I'm afraid, I'm still afraid and I, I really want to drive that home. That being brave or doing, you know, living your life the way that you want takes courage.
    But everybody's afraid. Everybody still wrestles with this thing so that it's not a sign that there's something wrong with you, that you can't do it. And ultimately she talks about going through this process to own your own story. Just owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the bravest thing we'll ever do. She talks a lot throughout the book about her own upbringing, you know, in Texas and in the country and, and how a lot of her own shame triggers are about not feeling academic enough and smart enough in her role as a researcher and as an academic and how she always used to pray or wish that she was a new Yorker and she thought it was, you know, so much more sophisticated and she's learned that wow, she's a PhD and as this researcher she is still that girl from the back road country of Texas that, you know, goes fishing and does all these things that people do in the country apparently.
    But she talks about owning her own story and until she can love herself and understand that story, then these things of shame will always follow her around. And so many us are trying to disowned part of ourselves. So many of us have gone into these identities in careers and we so badly want to contort ourselves into what we think that identity is. I dunno flick. We want to feel smart enough. We want to feel like we're accomplished. So many of us come from different backgrounds where maybe you were the first person that went to college or you're carrying on your family legacy or whatever it is, and we are just trying to ignore or suppress so much of us that doesn't fit with that story. So many parts of us that doesn't it quite, there isn't room in that life for and she talks a lot about how you can never be whole like that and your whole Nass and your whole heartedness depends on you integrating all of your experiences and really accepting who you are so that you can figure out what you want your life to be like.
    I think a lot of times though, when I see people that are so unhappy in their careers, I now see that it's them trying to contort themselves into one aspect of it, who they are and really letting go. And not even just in a career sense, you know, maybe it doesn't mean that you change your career, but how do you embrace other parts of you that want so desperately to come out like creativity and fun and play, you know, and all these things that maybe you loved as a child. We try to shed a lot of that and I think accepting that that is the only way we will be whole is allowing for that to be a part of our lives is a really powerful realization. She ends it with a quote from Carl Giang who said, your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart, who looks outside dreams, who looks inside awakes and without sounding so, which I know some of this sounds, I have a lot of these conversations with people that come up to my free coaching calls for the people in my program or the people that I just have conversations with through email or Instagram.
    And again, people are constantly looking for how they figure out what their dream career is. I always try to explain that. Nobody else can tell you what your dream career is going to be. Nobody else could tell you what path is right? And we so desperately want someone to just tell us because that's how we've been raised, right? Teachers told us what to do and our employer told us what to do, like our parents told us what to do and we just followed along and we just so desperately want someone to tell us that. But none of that is on the outside. None of that is looking at different career websites. It's really going inward and figuring out who you are and what you love and what makes you tick and what makes you light up. And until you're willing to confront that and rumble with that, then you'll never have the rising right. You'll be stuck hustling for your worth. And I hope that all of you do, you have the courage to rise strong. And I know you do. And if I can help in any way, please let me know. I will be back next week with another episode.