I love Brene Brown. Watched her TED talks, took an online class through OWN, read her books and blog – I love her. So I was really pleased to receive an advance copy of her new book, Rising Strong, to review (thank you NetGalley).

Brene’s voice is there in this book, as in her previous works. And her essential openness and vulnerability (two of the things that make her work resonate with so many people I know) are there from the opening story–more on storytelling later. And hearing her reassure us that “the process of struggling and navigating hurt has as much to offer us as the process of being brave and showing up” – I mean, who can resist that? (well, who among those of us who really love digging around in this kind of uber-instrospective self-analysis, perhaps).

The book starts rather gently, outlining the overall concept. In Chapter 4, she really starts in on specifics, going beyond her generic advice to “walk into [our] story and own [our] own truth” and gives us specific examples from her own life about recognizing the feelings associated with being overwhelmed by emotions, and (starting to get into the whole storytelling thing) how to recognize the kinds of stories we make up about why we feel a particular way and how to dive into the ugly complexity of those stories, rather than avoiding them or running from them. This is also the chapter where she reminds us that “depression and anxiety are two of the body’s first reactions to stockpiles of hurt.”

In Chapter Five, she offers a structure for actually writing out “the story I’m making up” about any conflict, situation or feeling. This can help us work through these, rather than avoid them or merely justify (to ourselves and others) our response to them. She provides examples and questions to help people uncover their own SFD (or “shitty first draft” of the story — a term she credits to Anne Lamott).

The idea is once you have gotten all the garbage out on paper, you can then think about what makes the story you’re telling yourself so appealing, looking at what the story allows you to avoid and what buttons might actually be being pushed.

I found this idea really interesting, although the whole “reckoning, rumble, and revolution” thing got lost for me a bit…

By far, my favorite chapter is “Sewer Rats and Scofflaws,” which has kept me thinking for days and provided hours of discussion among family and friends. The basic theory that there are two types of people (those who try their best, follow rules, and are respectful, and then the sewer rats and scofflaws who don’t try their best and basically go around taking advantage of people). I have been posing the question to people “do you think that people are, in general, doing the best they can???”

For example, the guy who ran the stop sign and cut in front of me in traffic – my initial response was anger, the whole “what an asshole” reaction. But, what do I really know about why he did that? Maybe he got a call and there is an emergency at home, or he is late to work and worried about being fired, or – who knows? Could be anything. But for me, the point is that me being upset about it isn’t all that healthy for me, and I could really benefit from a shift in my initial negative perspective…so really, would it make a difference if I knew he was doing the best he could? Gotta admit yes.

I think there are tons of things in this book that will stay with me. Like being reminded that “disappointment is unmet expectations.” (Or, to quote Anne Lamott, “expectations are resentments under construction.” YES!

And overall this book reinforces my love for BB, going beyond the initial epiphany I got from an earlier book (the distinction between “I failed” and “I am a failure”) to the sewer rat/scofflaw idea, which just feels HUGE to me.

I asked my husband to read Chapter 6, which he did, and we had a great discussion…when I asked him if he liked it, he said “it’s WAY too introspective for me” but he agreed it elicited an awesome discussion!

Highly recommended for Brene Brown fans…and recommended for people who enjoy this kind of introspective self-analysis…