Here is my single biggest takeaway from Rising Strong:
When I am feeling overwhelmed, I need to ask, “What is the story I’m telling myself?”
I am too quick to assume – that the person who just tore into me is irredeemably ornery, that I’m not good enough, or that I am too good to be the one creating the problem. None of these default narratives points me toward reflecting more deeply on the situation, reaching out for help, or looking for a solution. They are interpretations, and narrow, blame-inducing ones at that.
As an extreme introvert, I am especially prone to spinning a whole story in my head without fact-checking it, then acting on it like it is true. “What is the story I’m telling myself?” is a way of getting out of my head and sharing my perspective without making hearers defensive, since I’m not claiming that my outlook is gospel.
Instead, Brené Brown suggests I get at the whole story by asking myself:
- What am I leaving out in my default narratives?
- What am I feeling? Why?
- What am I thinking?
- What am I believing?
- What am I doing?
- What information do I need to flesh out and own this story?
- about myself
- about others
Not only are these the questions that I often neglect to ask, they are the ones that congregations need help raising to address subversive narratives of shame and blame. Churches – especially well-established ones – will have trouble moving forward until they are able to unearth and discuss sources of resistance. Only when they are well-aware of feelings and dynamics will they be able to love and trust enough to risk doing new things.