This is the first book I have read by Brene Brown and I must say I’m hooked and can’t wait to read more of her work.

In this book, she examines the process of Rising Strong; bravely “showing up” being vulnerable and rising from falls that invariably happen in our personal and professional lives. Brene draws on her personal experiences, the stories of others as well as research to outline steps to rise strong and to live a more wholehearted life. She says “My goal for this book is to slow down the falling 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.”

She begins by exploring failure. “Embracing failure without acknowledging the real hurt and fear that it can cause or the complex journey that underlies rising strong is gold plating grit.” She acknowledges the importance of our willingness to “be in the arena” as she calls it. In other words our willingness to be vulnerable and to show up in our lives and our willingness to live our lives and take risks even when we have no control over the outcome. She points out that vulnerability is not a weakness but instead “our greatest measure of courage” often in front of people who are all too willing to criticize and put down. She stresses that once you fall you can never go back to where you started before you took a risk, and about how this experience “transforms the emotional structure of our being” This is all part of the process of Rising Strong. This process should also spark our creativity to take what we learn about ourselves to change how we’re living.

Brene Brown outlines the Rising Strong process as the Reckoning, the Rumble, and the Revolution

In the first part of the Rising Strong process, The Reckoning, Brene reminds us we are wired for creating stories—our versions of how we perceive and interpret what happens to us and our feelings. In the Reckoning we engage with our feelings surrounding a fall, a failure, or an uncomfortable event or feeling and get curious about the story we create about those. It is important to acknowledge why the Reckoning is important and what can happen if we do not do that and we disengage from these difficult emotions. “They don’t go away,” Brene says they “instead own us and define us. Our job is not to deny the story but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think Yes, this is my truth and I will choose how this story ends.”

The next part of the Rising Strong process involves the Rumble, where we get honest about the stories we create about our experiences and we explore the “delta” where these stories differ from what is actually happening. She explores how our stories, without the reckoning can be harmful and how they can keep us stuck in reliving similar situations in similar and similar versions of failure or turning to

unproductive hurtful ways of coping such as numbing, stockpiling or getting stuck.

In the middle of the book, Brene outlines many common topics we rumble with when exploring our stories and the importance of staying curious through the process. I found this part of the book extremely interesting and insightful. She deals with topics of trust, failure and power, despair and hope, regret, nostalgia, criticism, boundaries, compassion, vulnerability, self-righteousness, generosity, self-respect, disappointment, unmet expectations, grief, heartache, forgiveness, empathy and sympathy, compassion, help and needing, shame and perfectionism, blame and accountability, and identity. She shares stories, definitions, and research around these topics in a very clear and thought provoking way.

The Revolution is the final part of Rising Strong. It is the part where we “we can rise from our experiences of hurt and struggle in a way that allows us to live more wholehearted lives” as Brene describes it. The goal is integration of the process to a point where it becomes a daily practice and away for approaching our emotions and stories in our workplaces, our families, and our communities

Book review by
Kathy Balazy