Chapter 11: The Revolution
I will start this off by saying how honored and grateful I am to have shared this experience and growth with all of you over the past months. I have learned so much from all of you, and from everyone’s unique perspectives and openness on how vulnerability, shame, courage, fear, insecurity, forgiveness and trust have shaped your lives.
I knew I was in for an emotional post when I realized I had highlighted pretty much the entire chapter…
“Revolution might sound a little dramatic, but in this world, choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance.”
This one sentence captures the essence of this chapter, and really the entire book, and therein lies the problem. Our society places unlimited street cred on perseverance, hard work, conformity and stoicism, and infinite judgment and shame on vulnerability or “failure”. I half believe that the unofficial definition of authenticity in our culture is “dangerous and unacceptable non-conformity”.
We desperately need a revolution to change our culture. The key takeaway in this chapter is the idea that in order to make any impact with this work, the practice of rising strong needs to expand beyond individuals and into workplaces, family units, and communities. This is the only way to achieve revolutionary change.
Case in point: I’ve been called infectious before. “In a good way”, my colleague assured me. I teach a training program in sustainable operations, and have worked with hundreds of people on behavior change in organizations. And trust me, behavior change is freaking hard.
It’s also completely doable. The woman who called me infectious was commenting about the fact that she can never go into a hotel room again without noticing if the cleaning staff still gives her clean towels every day, even when she hangs them up as instructed on the pretty little “we’re environmentally friendly” card. All because we had a conversation about this, and I made her think and question things, rather than continue on autopilot through life.
Behavior change is incremental and evolutionary, much like the rumble and the reckoning. Personally, I have experienced incremental, evolutionary change, in both good ways and in bad. In my marriage, the descent into fear and self-doubt and captivity happened so slowly that I couldn’t see it until I was up to my eyeballs in shit with no idea how I got there from the happy-go-lucky kid I used to be.
And again once I left that marriage, and trudged along on the slow road to recovery and reclaiming my life. On this road I have experienced more growth and change than I could ever have believed possible, and it happened by taking baby steps one day at a time.
Brené talks about the rising strong process being nowhere near as powerful as the rising strong practice. This practice is what guided me along that road, and kept me going every time it got hard, every time I wanted to turn back to the comfortable world of conflict avoiding and people pleasing.
On this road I experienced deep, tumultuous, groundbreaking, no-turning back transformation, as Brené describes. This is where the magic happens, and is a direct result of the incremental, evolutionary change. This is where the revolution starts.
Over the past 8 years, I have evolved from a paralytic conflict avoider who was so steeped in shame I almost believed I didn’t have a right to exist in this world to unapologetically owning my truth and telling it on the TEDx stage. (Watch Heather's Tedx talk here.) It has led me to share my experience, strength, and hope with others who are struggling.
It has taught me to be curious without judgment, to feel my feelings—all of them. It has led me to starting my own coaching business, helping women who are steeped in fear and judgment and insecurity and self-doubt learn to open themselves to vulnerability and discover their authentic selves to show up wholeheartedly for life.
One of the most impactful parts of this chapter for me was in The Story Rumble at Home.
My daughter is 9. She and I have always been very close, and I’ve worked my hardest to create a safe, loving environment where she feels comfortable and allowed to experience any and all feelings.
She’s struggled with anxiety and chronic constipation for the past 7 years, since I left her dad. He has been involved in her life at varying levels, gotten remarried, had a kid, and then divorced, and is now engaged again. My daughter has a step-sister and half brother that she is not allowed to see. From what I can discern, she is not really allowed to have inconvenient feelings when she’s over there.
Over the years, she has come home from time at his house so emotionally constipated that the first day or two home are a veritable shit storm of feelings and emotions. They come out sideways and cover the walls of our home and my heart, pent up fear and confusion and hurt. Recently, she came home devastated and frustrated because her dad got angry with her when she said she missed me, and told her she was “old enough to not miss your mom anymore”.
I haven’t yet practiced the SFD or “the story I’m making up” with her, but after reading this chapter I’m excited to try this with her. I see her starting to stuff her feelings, to not allow herself to feel uncomfortable, and to hold on with all her might to those shitty first drafts as if they were written in stone. It’s breaking my heart. I also have to remember that I did this for more than half my life, and being face down in the arena looks completely different at 9 than at 29, when I started my rumble toward revolution.
A revolution starts with one or two or 10 people. It ignites when their flicker catches their children’s, or their neighbor’s, or their church group’s wick. And those flames spread to the next wick, and the next, propelled by love and courage and support and truth. This is how a revolution is fueled, and becomes this raging fire that started with the spark of one person who had the courage to let themselves be vulnerable.
P.S. Thank you Maria, Cheryl, and Nancy, so very much, for your participation here during our bookclub.
I wanted to add, since I forgot to include it when Maria spearheaded her chapter, that my friend, Maria Rodgers O’Rourke, is a mom, wife, author, and speaker who cries at movies! There's a whole lot more to her, too. Find out more about Maria and her writing here.
Up Next: Good question! And sadness over the end of our time together. Thank you all! Please feel free to contact me here or via email if you have comments or suggestions for future posts or future projects we can do together.