If you missed or would like to re-read the post and comments for the Introduction and Ch. 1, you can do so here.
Here we go! Thank you Sue.
Chapter 2: Civilization Stops at the Waterline
Using the story of what transpired during and immediately after a swim at the lake with her husband, Brené shows us the “Rising Strong” process. She puts her experience into a 3-act play that we can relate to, whether a story takes place over a few minutes or a few decades.
Act 1: The Reckoning
We sense something is amiss. We need to get curious about our feelings instead of quickly snapping at someone or trying to bury the hurt.
Act 2: The Rumble
We figure out what we are truly feeling, what part we play in our interactions, what is truth and what is conjecture. As Brené says, “The middle is messy, but it’s also where the magic happens.” She points out how the Rumble is often slighted or ignored when one speaks of emotional growth. For example, I can say, “I used to blow up the significance of little arguments with my husband, leaving myself in a pit of hurt and loneliness for days, but now I handle those tiffs just fine.”
Act 3: The Revolution
We have the power to change how our stories end when we face our truth and summon the courage to speak it. After Brené told her husband what thoughts were reeling in her mind during their swim, she found out he was focused on something completely different. Just before that conversation, Brené had the day scripted – and it wasn’t looking at all like a fun day at the lake with the family as planned. But because she chose to find and speak her truth, Brené’s story changed from one based on hurt and conjecture to one based on truth and love. And the day ahead looked wonderful again.
These steps are powerful and life-changing if one dares to jump in.
I want to share a “Rumble” of mine, a critical part I purposely left out in the above summarization of “Act 2: The Rumble.” Given space limitations, I’m giving highlights only.
Over the 30 years my husband and I have been together, we’ve had our share of stupid little arguments. I was able to shorten my funks in the aftermath into a matter of minutes or a couple hours. That progress was due to feeling more secure in our relationship. I hadn’t felt insecure because of anything my husband did or didn’t do. It was all about me. Imagine that!
Please don’t get me wrong – my husband and I usually get along quite well. It’s just that the transformation of how I deal with arguments has been a gift to myself (and to my husband!).
Whether I was angry at him or I thought he was angry at me, I got really scared. I avoided confrontations as much as possible because I didn’t know how to safely navigate through them. There were times when I was afraid or ashamed to say how I felt, so as I learned to do in childhood, I just kept quiet. When an argument did transpire, I’d soon slink off with my fear and anger, grab up a helping of guilt, regret or self-righteousness, and come up with this story in my head: “He may be getting fed up with me. He might want a divorce.”
Of course, the story in my head wound up being completely off-base from my husband’s reality.
Years ago, I didn’t have the courage to “rumble,” no less to head into the “revolution.” The anger, fear, etc. would dissipate over time. Sometimes I wished those feelings would go away faster; other times I held on a bit longer, as if they served me well.
Then my husband started to have serious medical problems. That was about 8 years ago. Because of the love and compassion I have for him, my responses to those once uncomfortable communications are now weighed with kindness instead of the desire to withdraw from connection. I take into account that not feeling well can make my husband’s emotional response to stress seem misguided from my point of view. So instead of jumping into old habits when he appears upset at me, I say something gently but firmly such as, “Are you upset with something I said or did, or are you stressed out about something else? You know I’m here for you. What’s going on?”
The situation usually de-escalates immediately. No argument. No funk. Wow! Next step: apply Brené’s 3-act play to other areas in my life!
Up Next: Chapter 3 spearheaded by Maria Rodgers O'Rourke. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, this post will not appear until December 3rd. But stay tuned, I have a very special post coming out next week.