rising strong by brene brown

Rising Strong Summary (How To Bounce Back After Falling Flat)

Think of the last time you were vulnerable, and took a really big risk…and then fell flat on your face. Life is full of struggle and setbacks, ranging from barely noticeable in the grand scheme of things to completely world-ending. This Rising Strong summary of Brené Brown’s essential book will show you how to get back up again after falling flat.

Rising Strong Summary: What is it About?

In Rising Strong, Brené Brown explains how to rise strong when we show up as ourselves, dare greatly, and then fall down. She explains that it is natural to want to hide our emotions when we experience a setback. But as Brené Brown puts it in Rising Strong: “when we deny our stories, they define us. When we own our stories, we get to write the ending”.

Rising Strong is a book that is all about how we get back up when it was so hard to be vulnerable in the first place. This gives us the power to learn and grow from our ‘face down in the arena’ moments, and create a new ending on our own terms.

Overcoming setbacks and finding growth opportunities in challenges is something that we write about often at Joyful Through It All. We believe this is one of the keys to living the life you want to live, full of big goals and dream chasing.

Rising Strong: the Reckoning, the Rumble, the Revolution

Rising strong is the term Brené Brown gives to the three step process you can use to get back up after a major stumble. In this Rising Strong summary, we will take a look at the steps involved in this rising strong process: the reckoning, the rumble, and the revolution.

This process is very similar to what we see in many movies. The first act involves the protagonist encountering an event that causes them to have an emotional reaction of some sort. The second act of the film shows the protagonist wrestling with the emotions and making sense of what has happened. The third and final act is where we see the protagonist rising as a stronger version of themselves.

This three-act story is very familiar to us. But for some reason we don’t jump into the rising strong process ourselves when we make mistakes leading to down-and-out moments. Let’s dig further into this Rising Strong summary and take a look at the reckoning to find out how we can change this!

The Reckoning

The reckoning is the beginning of your story. It is the part where you mustered up the courage to do something that required you to be vulnerable and take a risk. Then, you entered the arena… and fell flat on your face.

Obviously there are lots of emotions that come from a failure or a setback. This is especially the case when we let our guard down and expose ourselves to the world.

Difficult emotions are uncomfortable. When we feel embarrassed, scared, disappointed, ashamed, or vulnerable, it is natural for us to want to push these emotions away and hide in our comfort zones. But the problem is, the feelings of being hurt do not go away just because we run from them.

Brené Brown explains that it is common to ‘offload’ feelings of hurt by bouncing them away in the first place, numbing them with quick fixes, or stockpiling them to unleash in the form of anger at a later date.

Rather than avoiding these emotions, she explains that we should get curious about them, and start to integrate them as part of our stories. How many times have you ‘steamrolled’ over your emotions? It is so easy to just call someone a jerk and move on without acknowledging the emotion that popped up and caused this reaction in the fist place.

The Rumble

The next part of this Rising Strong summary will explain the next phase of the rising strong process: the rumble.

Once we’ve acknowledged the negative emotions we felt during our setback, it is time to ‘rumble’ with them. This is the time to face the feelings of hurt in a way that allows us to come out stronger.

In the reckoning phase, unpleasant feelings showed up as a result of some sort of setback. And instead of slamming the door in our feelings’ faces, we opened it up and said ‘oh, hello shame. Nice to see you again. Come on in’.

This is the phase where you put the kettle on, grab your boxing gloves, and get ready to do some rumbling!

But wait, what exactly does ‘rumble’ mean?

Well, the emotions you felt when you had your setback come with a story. Think of how you would describe what happened to you if you were going to summarize your setback as if it were a story.

In Rising Strong, Brené Brown explains that the story we tell ourselves about our setbacks is not always the most accurate representation of reality. When we face a struggle, it is natural for our emotions to color our interpretation of the events.

The rumble is the part of the Rising Strong process where you get down to being honest with yourself. This is the time for you to figure out the parts of the story that are true, and the parts that are distorted.

We want to place blame elsewhere because it is easier then facing those emotions head on. But running and hiding is not what the rumble is for! This is the time to get down to the root of what is happening!

Write Your Sucky First Draft

One of the most helpful pieces of advice in this Rising Strong summary is to write a ‘sucky first draft’ of what happened during your setback. This is where you write out your gut reaction to the events that led to your setback.

Brené Brown explains that the key here is to write without filtering yourself. You don’t want to edit out any of the emotional turmoil you feel that you have experienced! That is all the good stuff that you are going to rumble with.

This is where you will wrestle with shame, blame, resentment, vulnerability, and other feelings.

Once you have written your sucky first draft, tuck it away and go for a walk, or use another one of your favorite self care ideas. When you come back, take a read through your draft. The odds are that you will find it easier to see past the color of emotion for a truer version of the events.

An important tool for this step of the process is a growth mindset. A growth mindset is what will help you hunt through the story of your setback to find opportunities for growth.

When you are ready, it is time for the revolution!

The Revolution

This is the part of the Rising Strong process that Brené Brown describes as ‘tumultuous, groundbreaking, no-turning back transformation‘. This is where the growth happens.

In the reckoning, you felt strong emotions in response to a setback. During the rumble, you wrestled with your emotions, made them part of your story, and sorted fiction from fact.

When you come out of a rumble successfully, you are ready to take the new learnings that you developed and put them into practice. The revolution is where you get to write a new ending to your story. One where you don’t run from your emotions.

It becomes a story with a braver ending. In this version, you embrace negative emotions rather than running from them. This will help you engage with the world in a new, wholehearted way.

What’s Next After Rising Strong?

So, you had a setback, wrestled with your emotions, and experienced some growth. That’s the end of the story, right?

We can all agree that life does not have a shortage of setbacks, and another one is probably right around the corner! But you are now equipped with a new perspective that is going to help you rumble with whatever comes your way.

One final key takeaway in this Rising Strong summary is a lasting piece of transformative advice from Brené Brown. One revolution that she describes having is developing the assumption that everyone, regardless of the situation, is trying their best.

Having this assumption will help make you more willing to engage with the emotions that you experience during setbacks. Instead of steamrolling over your emotions and just calling someone a jerk, remember that they are trying their best with the tools they have.

Then, enjoy the feeling of fully embracing your emotions, rumbling with them, and emerging a stronger person ready to continue living a wholehearted life.

For more on Brené Brown’s tools to help you live a wholehearted life, check out our The Gifts of Imperfection summary and our 5 key takeaways from Daring Greatly.

Don’t forget to share this post with your friends and family on social media! If you know someone who is working through a setback, this post could be just what they need!


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