We as humans do a great job wearing masks to hide fear, anxiety, and shame. Social scientist Brené Brown has devoted her life to researching these realities of the human experience. She has received national recognition in the social sciences and in pop culture for her pioneering research into the issues of shame and vulnerability. Here at CrossRoads, we integrate Brené’s work into our personal practices. We utilize her TED talks and her book, The Gifts of Imperfection, as a main resource for our Made for More Groups.
In her new book, Rising Strong, Brown writes that we as humans do not have the choice to avoid pain, sadness and hurt. We do, however, have a choice in what we do with these moments. She seeks for us to “slow down the fall and rising process to bring into our awareness all the choices that unfurl in front of us during those moments of discomfort and hurt and to explore the consequences of those choices.” In doing this, we can discover strength for whole-hearted living.
A strong belief we share at CrossRoads is that every human being is a story and much of life is seen through the lens created by this narrative. Story is vital to how we understand the world around us and how we connect to our own experiences emotionally, relationally, and even spiritually. Likewise, Brown teaches that the mechanism by which we honor our experiences and navigate through difficult emotions is through engaging our personal stories. To do this effectively, she advises that we use “The Rising Strong Process.” This is a three-stage process that assists in going beyond surface level change and into true transformation.
- The Reckoning: Stage one is the brave commitment to walk into our stories. This means we honestly connect and are curious about what we have experienced. Here we also notice the thoughts that have accompanied the moments of disruption. Brown calls this, The Reckoning, where we dive into the stories we tell ourselves about our experiences.
- The Rumble: Stage two is appropriately named, The Rumble, wherein we must with strength, humility, transparency, vulnerability and truth, own our stories. Embedded in this process is the deciphering of “conspiracy theories.” These are the stories we create in our internal narratives that are supported by no real data and give us the quick shot of emotional morphine we desire to escape discomfort. Often they are born out of fear, self-protection, and the subconscious commitment to hide from others and even from ourselves. Rumbling means we must be willing to lay down our weapons, take off our armor, and be committed to the “truest truth.” This is frequently a place of great tension, as we murky the waters of black and white thinking in order to see more clearly the honest hue of gray that is within us. In the “truest truth,” we find that we are broken and beautiful. That we have been hurt but we are not victims. We are invited to move deeper into faith and are called to forgiveness, mercy and grace.
- The Revolution: The third and final stage is The Revolution. This knock out, drag out fight against our self-protection is the means by which we get to our greatest end, deeper connections with self, with others and with God. The Revolution is where we learn and practice our power to choose what we do with discomfort and failure in a way that leads us into a life of meaning and purpose.
Brené Brown is courageous. She talks about the experiences of life we would most often avoid and she promotes that we do the same. In doing so, we will gain the wisdom and understanding required to view memories and moments of hurt and tragedy as redeemable and thus take steps towards healing, strength, and connection.