Book Conversation: Rising Strong: The Rumble

Welcome to the weekly book discussion. My hope is that it starts a conversation, as if we were sitting in a coffee shop discussing over lattes. As such, it’s not intended to be a review or critique. So, please read, share, and join the discussion! This week is our fourth week reading Brené Brown’s most recent book Rising Strong.

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“The reckoning is how we walk into our story; the rumble is where we own it. The goal of the rumble is to get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggles, to revisit, challenge, and reality-check these narratives as we dig into topics such as boundaries, shame, blame, resentment, heartbreak, generosity, and forgiveness. Rumbling with these topics and moving from our first responses to a deeper understanding of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors gives birth to key learnings about who we are and how we engage with others. The rumble is where wholeheartedness is cultivated and change begins.” (loc. 1290)

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In the moment, when hurt comes, I’m mostly good at masking my hurt. It wasn’t always this way. By nature I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I had an older-than-me pastor once tell me, earlier in my career, “You’ve got to develop more of a poker face in meetings. Everyone in the room knows exactly what you’re thinking all the time.” And so, I’ve learned.

So, I’m in a conversation, and someone says something that hurts. Maybe they mean it to – I’ve had a couple of those over the last year, where the person intended their words to hurt. But I’ve also had conversations where it was unintended, the person was just saying their version of the truth, or expressing their own reality, which it conflicted with mine.  It hurts nevertheless, and probably even more than the intentional hurts. In the moment, though, I stuff it down. Then later, when the replays roll in my head, the hurt comes.

The rumble Brené is talking about comes after we own our stories and acknowledge our emotions. It’s the deeper work of trying to understand oneself. It means digging up the skeletons that we may have buried a long time ago. Journaling is a helpful exercise here, as is a spiritual director, a therapist, or someone who will ask hard questions and patiently await our response. (Because the deeper we go, the more elusive the answers.)

It starts with writing a shitty first draft (SFD), in which we simply spew out on paper exactly what we think – no refinements, no editing – but which serves as the baseline for exploration. This is kicking curiosity into overdrive, and it can take YEARS to rumble on something and get to a place of “settled.”

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About a week ago, I was going through the back of my closet and discovered an orange Denver Broncos – Peyton Manning jersey. I was pretty excited, but I didn’t know where it had come from. Jennifer reminded me that she and the boys gave it to me for my birthday last year. I can’t for the life of me remember anything about my birthday last year. I don’t remember where I was, who I spent the day with. Nothing. My birthday rolled around right about the time that I was in my darkest hole, (I wrote a bit about it here.) and it’s just not in my memory.

In that time, about 9 months ago, there was a lot of stuff swirling around: a house I was building, church stuff, personal stuff, and in my utter exhaustion and feeling completely overwhelmed, the worst parts of my psyche were steering the ship for a good long time. And in the process I stuffed things. I just pushed on, moved forward, kept walking.

This 3-month sabbatical came at just the right time. I didn’t take this sabbatical because I was burned out. The conversations about it started long before that. But when, on September 2, it actually started, I was broken down. Jennifer describes it as there being a heaviness about me that isn’t usually part of me.

“The Rumble” is how I’m finding my way out. Yes, I probably should have seen a therapist – it would probably have moved faster – but funds are always an issue. But, as I’ve gotten deeply curious about myself and the stories I’m making up, as I’ve given myself space to probe for answers as to why I act and think the way I do, I’m finding peace.

A lot of it comes in the time I spend running. Running gets me away from distractions and gives me the space to rumble. And the kinds of podcasts I listen to while I run –  The Robcast, This Good Word, Magic Lessons – are the kinds of podcasts that help me rumble.

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So, what do you need to rumble with right now? And how do you rumble? Journaling is one good way, talking is another (but be careful rumbling with the person you’re rumbling about … because it’s likely not them, it’s you and you can cause harm). I’ll end with a list of questions Brené suggests for rumbling:

  1. What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation? (What do I know objectively? What assumptions am I making?)
  2. What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the story? (What additional information do I need? What questions or clarifications might help?)
  3. What more do I need to learn and understand about myself? (What’s underneath my response? What am I really feeling? What part did I play?)

Okay, now I want to hear how you rumble!  Talk to me, Goose!

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