I would like to begin by saying that I am not a fan of self-help or motivational books. I have nightmares of being the woman in that aisle of the bookstore crying, while searching through the stacks for a solution to my problems. I feel the same way about motivational speakers and the false sense of happiness that is often advertised. After saying all of that, there is one book that has snuck its way into my life and has undoubtedly changed me for the better.
Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution by Brené Brown was purchased by my cousin and given to me for Christmas. I admittedly let the book become a coffee table decoration for about six months and, after an especially hard day, decided to take a glance. I began to read the book and found that Brown’s concept resonated very strongly with me. It didn’t advocate for the easy route out or a simple tell-all solution as many self-help books do, but instead demanded hard work and acceptance.
Rising Strong begins by explaining the importance of vulnerability. People are often taught to reject feelings that aren’t necessarily comfortable. They are told to tuck these emotions away by laughing it off or drinking it down. Brown recommends looking these feelings in the eye, and by doing so embrace our inherent human vulnerability. She also lightens the mood by saying “people who wade into the discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses”.
Once this idea of vulnerability is introduced, the idea of embracing it becomes overwhelming. How do I embrace such a scary emotion? How do I even begin to look at myself and my darker truths? How do I become this badass? Brown gives a set of steps to follow that are simple and direct. This is what appeals to me about Rising Strong: the path to self-realization isn’t ambiguous or complex. Instead, the presentation of the steps is straight-forward and unpretentious.
It begins with “The Reckoning”, which is the realization that if you are vulnerable, you will get knocked down. You will fail and life will hurt. This is the trade-off to living a fully authentic life. Brown’s next step is “The Rumble”, which is when you decide to embrace the uncomfortable feelings of being knocked down. “The most dangerous stories we make up are the narratives that diminish our inherent worthiness. We must reclaim the truth about our lovability, divinity, and creativity,” she writes.
The book helps you to learn how to question the common self-damaging narratives we create and how to understand that parts of those stories are merely assumptions created out of insecurity and fear. “The Revolution” is when you rise up and are truly stronger for having faced some of your issues.
An essential component to Rising Strong includes learning how to question whether we judge others too often by asking yourself the simple question:
“Do you think people do the best they can?”
Brown explains that setting high expectations of ourselves in turn causes us to hold these same standards for people around us and it is bound to cause disappointment. Instead, understanding and empathizing with others helps to create appropriate boundaries and expectations in our relationships.
Brown has a Phd in Social Work from the University of Houston and has published a series of motivational books. The companion read to Rising Strong is Daring Greatly, and the series has sparked Brown to create workshops (including a free workshop on trust!) and a community to continue discussing her method. Brown was arguably popularized by her TEDx talks on vulnerability and shame. She has also been on Oprah.
Rising Strong is filled with examples and details of how to obtain a sense of self-assurance and an understanding of living an authentic life. I would definitely recommend reading this novel if you have often felt lost and afraid of your own vulnerability. There is nothing stronger than embracing your own emotions, and Brown will show you a way to do this that will make you a stronger and more badass woman.