Wednesday, September 9, 2015


Bestselling author Dr. Brené Brown doesn’t waste time delving into her message. On the cover, she provides a succinct, two-sentence summary: “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fail. This is a book about what it takes to get back up.”

In the introduction, she is even more direct (and vulnerable) when describing her own ability to rise strong: “I’m not great at falling and feeling my way back.”

So why should we listen to her message?

Very simply, Dr. Brown has the ability to not only write and speak about vulnerability but to also live with it. Throughout the book, she provides many examples of her struggles, not sparing any of the details. I particularly enjoyed the chapter entitled, “Sewer Rats and Scofflaws,” where Dr. Brown describes her encounters with these unsavoury characters and also includes her own experience as a chubby little sewer rat in a battered jacket and torn jeans.

In addition to sharing her own stories of struggle, she interviewed a wide range of people: teachers, clergy, parents, couples in long-term relationships, artists, military personnel, leaders of Fortune 500 companies. From her research, she concluded that the Rising Strong process is the same, regardless of circumstances such as divorce, death, job loss, and workplace conflict. With practice, each life challenge can be addressed using a unique set of 3 Rs—Reckoning, Rumbling, and Revolution.

In the Reckoning step, we recognize and develop a healthy curiosity about our emotions. Instead of labelling ourselves as failures, we should simply recognize that emotions and feelings are in play. And not be afraid to ask ourselves about triggers and strong emotional reactions. While the instructions sound straightforward, Dr. Brown reminds us that shutting down or disengaging is the usual default.

In the Rumbling step, we get honest about the “stories” we have been making up about our struggles. Dr. Brown suggests that we engage our creativity and write SFDs (sloppy first drafts). The process is clearly stated: “Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends.”

The Revolution is the final step of the Rising Strong process. Here, we integrate the lessons learned during the Rumble.

Rising Strong is an excellent book, chock full of Dr. Brown’s trademark wisdom and humour.

Joanne Guidoccio is the author of A Season for Killing Blondes, Between Land and Sea, and The Coming of Arabella. Visit her website at

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