Excerpts from “Rising Strong”


I finished reading this book this week, the third I’ve read by Brene Brown, and her most recent publishing. Here are my excerpts I loved, the ones without quotations are my paraphrasing, the ones with quotations are exact quotes. I’ve also included some of my favorite viral memes of her quotes from this book. The gist of this book is about the process of falling flat on your face in the dirt via a reckoning, then rumbling with the truth of something, then how to journey and rise up however long that takes, into becoming your authentic real self that owns your story.

  • “Fortune may favor the bold, but so does failure”
  • “Men and women who rise strong are willing and able to rumble with their stories. By rumble I mean they get honest about their stories they’ve made up…”
  • When we don’t allow ourselves to feel emotion, we feel deprived. So we seek emotional stimulus in horror movies, reality tv, etc. Emotional pornography makes us feel intense emotions to feel alive that we are otherwise detaching from.
  • “Curiosity is a shit starter”
  • “It often takes just a single brave person to change the trajectory of a family or any system for that matter”
  • “If we numb compulsively and chronically, it’s addiction. We are still the most in debt, obese, medicated, and addicted adults in history.”
  • “Depression and anxiety are two of the body’s first reactions to stockpiling hurt…unrecognized pain and unprocessed hurt.”
  • “Trauma literally reshapes the brain and the body…Interventions that enable adults to reclaim their lives must must address the relationship between our emotional well being and our bodies. There is so much wisdom in our bodies. We just need learn how to listen and trust what we’re hearing.”
  • “Denial of emotion is what feeds the dark”
  • “We are wired to be emotional beings. When that part of us is shut down, we are not whole.”
  • Mindfulness and flow are never at odds
  • In the absence of data we will always make up a story. It’s built into our self-protection wiring.  “There is no rising strong without a true accounting of the stories we make up.”
  • “Just because someone isn’t able or willing to love us, doesn’t meant we are unlovable.”
  • “When shame and fear visit, everything can unravel in a heartbeat if we are not willing to be vulnerable in the exact moment when we most want to self protect.”
  • Her husband Steve said that his life is better if he chooses to believe people are doing the best they can. It keeps him out of judgement and keeps him in the moment.
  • Boundaries mean you say no when you need to, when you say yes you mean it, it keeps people out of resentment, makes people not put up with a lot of crap and be able to ask for what they need.
  • “Self righteousness is just the armor of self loathing.”
  • “This doesn’t mean that we stop helping people set goals or that we stop expecting people to grow and change. It means that we stop respecting and evaluating people based on what we think they should accomplish and start respecting them for who they are and holding them accountable for what they’re actually doing. It means that we stop loving people for who they could be, and start loving them for who they are. It means that sometimes when we’re beating ourselves up we need to stop and say to that harassing voice inside, ‘man, I’m doing the very best I can right now.'”
  • “Integrity is how we set those boundaries. Integrity is choosing courage over comfort, choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy, and choosing to practice our values instead of just professing them.”
  • When in a conflict, ask yourself ‘what is the most generous assumption you can make about the other person?'”
  • “Boundaries are simply a list of what’s okay and what’s not okay”
  • “Believing the best about other people can fundamentally change my life.”
  • “Our silence about grief serves no one. We can’t heal if we don’t grieve. We can’t forgive if we don’t grieve.”
  • “We can’t rise strong when we’re on the run.”
  • “Perfectionism is not healthy striving. It’s not asking how can I be my best self. Instead it’s asking what will people think.”
  • The Thin Book of Trust author Charles Feldman describes trust as “choosing to risk making something you value vulnerable to another person’s actions.” He describes distrust as “deciding that what is important to me is not safe with this person in this situation or any situation.”
  • “Self trust is often a casualty of failure.”
  • “Powerlessness leads to fear and desperation.”
  • “When we stop caring what people think, we lose our capacity for connection. But when we are defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable. The solution is getting totally clear on the people whose opinions actually matter.”
  • “We can’t be all in if only parts of us show up. If aren’t living, loving, parenting, or leading with our whole integrated hearts, were doing it half heartedly. I can’t rise strong unless I bring all of my wayward girls and fallen women back into the fold. I need them and they need me.”
  • “I am large. I contain multitudes.” quote from Walt Whitman
  • “There is no greater threat the critics and cynics and fear mongers than those who are willing to fall because we have learned to rise.”
  • A whole-hearted revolution is “a small quiet grass roots movement that starts with each of us saying my story matters because I matter. A movement where we can take the streets with our messy, imperfect, wild, stretch-marked, wonderful, heartbreaking, grace-filled and joyful lives. A movement fueled by the freedom that comes when we stop pretending everything is okay when it isn’t. A call that rises up from our bellies when we find the courage to celebrate those intensely joyful moments even though we’ve convinced ourselves that savoring happiness is inviting disaster.”

My absolute biggest takeaway from this book is that EVERYONE makes up stories in their head when there is little data to go off of and it’s not just me with what seems like the fastest-tangent-traveling brain in the world. I’ve learned to start hard conversations with “So here’s the story I’ve made up in my head” and then allowing the other person to explain what they really mean and how they really feel. Everything goes SO MUCH SMOOTHER when I acknowledge that I’ve made something up on limited data and I request more data calmly with the most generous assumptions possible about others!  I also realize I need some more work in working through my perfectionist gremlins.

My favorite part of the whole book was towards the end in her description of bringing her 11-year-old wrestling tomboy self into her current self, how we need all of our versions of ourselves to be acknowledged, all parts of our story owned, an understanding of where we’ve been and who we are must be owned and integrated for us to feel whole. “We can’t be all in if only parts of us show up. If aren’t living, loving, parenting, or leading with our whole integrated hearts, were doing it half heartedly. I can’t rise strong unless I bring all of my wayward girls and fallen women back into the fold. I need them and they need me.” It’s so beautiful. We need all parts that make us up to be present, to love and give and experience and strive, and we need that presence so we can feel alive and authentic.

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