“I am not enough.” This is a belief/myth that has followed me around my entire life. It is my constant companion, whispering in my ear, “I am not enough. I’m not enough. I’m not enough. Be more. Do more. You’re a fraud. You’ll never be enough”. Because I’m … a woman, a person of color, not a size 0 … the list goes on. I know this is bullsh*t, but still … I believe: “I’m not enough”. And I’m really tired of it. It’s time to Rise Strong.
Rising Strong: My Story
Last month I read, Rising Strong: The Reckoning, The Rumble, The Revolution by Brene Brown, PhD and very briefly reviewed it in my February book recap. It is a book that deserves a deeper look and one that I highly recommend, especially to those of you who struggle with feelings of not being enough or question your worthiness.
Rising strong after a fall is how we cultivate wholeheartedness in our lives; it’s the process that teaches us the most about who we are.
Brene Brown, PhD
I like that. I like that a lot.
If you’re like me, you don’t like falling in the first place and when it happens, you get stuck there sometimes, simmering away in a cauldron of your doubts, your recriminations, your fears and your anxiety. Your emotions overwhelm and drown you. How are you supposed to rise, much less rise strong?
Down and Out
I’ve been laying flat on my back for a long time, almost three years. This isn’t easy for me to share but a long, hard depression knocked me down. Generally, I am a fighter, scrappy, but only numbness ran through my veins so I stayed down. I am not ashamed that I “fell” but because there is such a stigma attached to depression, I kept silent.
Finally, I shared with a few, carefully selected friends and family members. The support I received was tremendous but even more so was the fact that so many of my friends had firsthand experience with depression. It’s an ugly secret too many of us keep.
Being Vulnerable Does Not Make You Weak
One of the core principles from Rising Strong is accepting our vulnerability and leaning into our emotions, rather than running away. According to Dr. Brown, very few people have been taught how to deal with their emotions in a healthy and constructive manner. This was a big a-ha for me, even though I was well aware of the relationship between money and emotions. I never thought how ill-equipped we were to manage our emotions as a whole.
We, as a society, accept “approved” emotions, like happiness but when people get “real” about how they feel, which can be ugly, raw and gut-wrenching, most of us flee. At least I did, especially if the person trying to get real was myself.
I stomped on the emotions that I didn’t want — fear, shame, disappointment, guilt, anger, sadness, loneliness — like they were grapes ready to be made into a throaty cabernet. For a time, I silenced them, but they never truly went away. Instead, they feasted on me from the inside, playing mind games and whispering, “You’ll never be enough.”
I believe that vulnerability — the willingness to show up and be seen with no guarantee of outcome — is the only path to more love, belonging and joy.
Damn it. I want more love, belonging and joy, which means I gotta get real with those less than desirable emotions and false beliefs. With 100% sincerity, I do not want to do this, but I want to be free. To stop believing the lies I tell myself. To actually really live.
So I will do the work.
The Storyteller in Us
When I was in high school, I participated in Speech and my category was storytelling. I’d wear frou-frou dresses and bows in my hair and spin yarns about giants and beanstalks and so on. From the number of trophies that filled my family home, I was pretty good. Too good, in fact.
Another area the book dives deep on is how we make-up stories to protect ourselves. Let me tell you, I had to read this section slowly and in small bites. Truth bombs were going off all over the place.
For long periods, I stared up at the ceiling (I generally read in my bed), just thinking.
Do I make-up stories? Yup.
All. The. Time.
And I do it, not because I lack a grasp on reality, but to protect to myself, just as Dr. Brown said. Instead of being curious and simply learning the truth, be it good or bad, over whatever experience has me feeling vulnerable or emotional, I make-up a story in my mind. I fill in the blanks, not with the truth, but with what serves me best. Now I can be self-righteous and sanctimonious or go on the offense and attack or play the victim card. Or whatever my made-up story needs to do to protect me.
What’s Really Real?
Maybe, some of my so-called hang-ups, issues, dramas are make-believe stories. Sure, some are 100% real, but even those stories, if I’m being honest, have grown to epic proportions. I fed them after midnight and turned them into rampaging gremlins. It’s time to shine a light on them.
This revelation initially knocked me down, but instead of staying down, I got up immediately. Why? Because I am a MASTER storyteller. One thing I can do is rewrite, baby. I can rewrite a true story, a real story, a strong story. One that just is and nothing more.
A Few Notes about Rising Strong
Some additional thoughts about the book overall.
- This book is not just for those suffering from depression. It is for everybody, because every single person falls. Some are big falls — ending a relationship, and some are small — dealing with a snide remark. Knowing how to cope with a fall is critical, not only for our wholeheartedness, but so we can thrive versus survive.
- I really liked how Brown used herself to give examples. In other words, she didn’t pretend she was perfect. She shared stories that painted a picture of a flawed human being, just like me.
- This not a book heavy on steps or exercises. The process is relatively uncomplicated, but the real work is still intense and hard because we have to be curious and honest, which we are not always good at doing, especially with ourselves.
I’m Rising Strong and Staying Strong
As I’ve said before and will say for the rest of my life, I am a work in progress. I’ve fallen countless time and will continue to do so. This isn’t a book about eliminating falls — that is not possible — but being able to rise strong when you do fall, whether you just have a scratched knee or are flat on your back. Rising Strong definitely had an impact on me, and I will continue to use the lessons from the book because I am enough. I’d like to leave you with a quote Dr. Brown shared that has become a favorite of mine.
May we all rise strong together.
Have you read Rising Strong? Does it sound like something you would enjoy? How do you recover from falls, big or small?
Jana @ Jana Says says
I had this book a couple of months ago but didn’t get a chance to read it. I think I need to.
I relate to so much of what you wrote here. Mostly, all of it. The depression, the stories, the not feeling like enough. This all hit me in a place where I am right now because I’m working so hard to get better and let myself know that I, too, am enough.
I definitely recommend the book, Jana, and would love to her your opinion of it. Self-help books tend to be very subjective. 🙂 It was very eye-opening for me and I use many of the techniques she discusses in the book. And I’m constantly reminding myself to STOP making up stories. It doesn’t help! It seems like so many people feel they are not enough, which is so sad. We are enough. We are not perfect — no one is — but we are enough.
Jenn @ Optimization, Actually says
That sounds really good! I’m actually reading a book about mental health (Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff) and even the examples about depression and anxiety seem like things most people can relate even if they haven’t experienced it firsthand. Mental health is a topic we don’t talk about nearly enough! I went to see a counselor last year, mostly out of curiosity, but people’s reactions when I talked about were so uncomfortable. And friends that have situations they’re struggling to resolve will adamantly protest that they don’t “need” a counselor if you suggest it. And it’s so ridiculous because all we’re doing is making things harder for ourselves than they need to be by not using every tool in our Arsenal to be happy. Anyway, definitely adding this to my to-read list!
That sounds like a very interesting book and I hope you’ll review it in the upcoming Show Us Your Books link-up. It sounds right up my alley! Mental health is definitely a topic that should be discussed more. Discussing our emotions makes so many people uncomfortable, but we all have them. And our not talking about them is a huge part of the problem. I hope you enjoy the book and would love to hear your thoughts about it too.
I can relate to so much of what you wrote here. So very honest and so very truthful. You hit the nail on the head when you wrote: “I am not ashamed that I “fell” but because there is such a stigma attached to depression, I kept silent”. I am high-fiving you through my computer screen. I too kept silent for a long time and even went through denial that anything was even wrong in the first place. It is a hard road and there are days when I fall (like today) but like you said, you have to be able to rise strong when you do fall.
High-five right back at ya, Mackenzie! I didn’t go through a denial phase but I went through a really long phase where I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Why I stopped caring and so on. It finally hit me one day, which gave me a brief moment of relief to know what was going on. Of course, it didn’t fix the issue and then I went into another long phase where I didn’t do much about it. 🙂 It is a hard road and one that is never really over. I found a lot of the techniques in the book really helpful, especially when I start going down the rabbit hole.
love this post girl, so honest. i agree with pretty much everything – i’m a storyteller as well. and i love that last quote, so true. i hate the stigma attached to depression or feeling vulnerable. it’s like we all have to pretend we’re perfect and never have any issues.. which is just ridiculous. bring on the imperfections 🙂
Thanks, Kristen! That is my new favorite quote. I am a dreamer but sometimes that is not always a good thing. I get stuck there (telling stories), when I really need to “awake” and live. It seems even worse, these days. People feel like they can’t admit mistakes, have to pretend they have perfect lives 24/7 and it is all b.s., ya know. It just fuels more feelings of not being enough and people hiding their emotions. I agree – let’s bring on and celebrate our imperfections!