Build Emotional Resilience: Review of Rising Strong

By Brené Brown

This September, Brené Brown will be releasing her latest book titled Braving the Wilderness. So, I'm taking the time to review and summarize her last book, Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. The theme of Rising Strong is, in Brown's words, "Fall. Get up. Try again."  

Brown's rising strong practice involves three phases: The reckoning, the rumble and the revolution. During the reckoning, we acknowledge our emotions in real-time. During the rumble, we look into the story behind those emotions and own that story. We also build emotional resilience. 

When we own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling.
— Brené Brown

Once we reach the revolution, we take what we've learned from the rumble and create a new story. "Rumbling with our story and owning our truth in order to write a new, more courageous ending transforms who we are and how we engage with the world," explains Brown.

Here are a few takeaways from the book. 

The Reckoning

According to Brown, the reckoning requires us to recognize emotions and then become curious about them. Once we recognize these emotions, we become aware of how enmeshed our thinking, feelings and behavior are. We become vulnerable.

What is vulnerability? Some define vulnerability as leaving yourself exposed, giving other people, places or situations the power to hurt you. Brené Brown describes vulnerability as this:

Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it's having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it's our greatest measure of courage. ~Brené Brown
Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.
— Brené Brown

When we show up, our instinct will be to run, hide or lash out. Few people enjoy the discomfort of growing. But it's better than the alternative.

Denying feelings, don't make them disappear. It does the opposite. The feelings grow undetected, they surface in a hurtful and often explosive manner.

Here are a few ways we deflect emotions. We bury them until they inevitably explode in surprising ways. Think road rage and workplace meltdowns. We numb our emotions with food, new clothes, alcohol and so on. We do anything to lessen the pain. 

Or we bury our emotions. Instead of exploding, the emotions physically manifest. We may become depressed or anxious. We may lose our appetite or get sick more often.

Sometimes we default to the ego trio of anger, blame and avoidance. Why feel the pain when you can blame, get revenge or procrastinate?

To avoid this: "Give yourself permission to feel emotion, get curious about it, pay attention to it, and practice," Brown writes. That means: Don't run. Don't hide. Don't ignore it. Don't hope it'll go away. Wade through the discomfort. Learn. Grow.

The Rumble

How do we rumble? We lean into the reckoning. Look for the true story behind our emotions. And ask, what really is the issue? 

When unconscious storytelling becomes our default, we often keep tripping over the same issue, staying down when we fall, and having different versions of the same problem in our relationships—we’ve got the story on repeat. 
— Brené Brown

What is your story?

Brown suggests writing your story down. What do you tell yourself about your experiences? How do you feel and how does it play out? What can you learn? 

More important? Is your story true? Or have you distorted reality at some point to protect yourself? The deeper you delve into your story, the more likely you are going to uncover that it's mostly fiction. 

The story is driven by emotion and the immediate need to self-protect, which means it’s most likely not accurate, well thought out, or even civil. In fact, if your very first story is any of these things, either you’re an outlier or you’re not being fully honest.
— Brené Brown

Why is it important to know your story?

Stories can be self-defeating and dangerous, especially when they attack our self-worthiness. These stories ignite shame and self-loathing. They may encourage us to act in ways inconsistent with who we really are or want to be. They rob us of hope and tenacity.

The Revolution

We can change our story and change our lives. "The revolution starts when we own and embody what lives at the heart of rising strong--the story rumble-in our everyday lives."

It's not enough to read the book, which goes into far more detail on how to rise strongly. We have to use the reckoning and rumbling process consistently. Consist action encourages change. And this change can help you achieve the previously unreachable goals.

"Courage is contagious."

When you have the audacity to try to achieve your goals, despite the inevitable setbacks along the way, you become a role model. You help others embrace their vulnerability. And get back up again when they fall. 


If you struggle with feeling or expressing your emotions in a productive way, check out Rising Strong. This book is also helpful if you want to build emotional resilience. Rising Strong provides us with a glimpse of what true bravery is. 

If you get a chance, check out Brown's other work. While I enjoyed RIsing Strong, I believe her earlier work was stronger. My favorite book was, I Thought It Was Just Me

To learn more about Brené Brown and her work, visit her website.


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