Brené Brown on ‘Rumbling with Forgiveness’

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Brene Brown, PhD, LMSW

School started back up a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been running around all crazy-like ever since.  I made the decision at the end of last year to move to a different grade level, so now I’m teaching first graders again – after about 20 years of teaching third graders.

To say this has been a total adjustment is an understatement.  And I’m feeling old, tired and overwhelmed. 

I needed a bit of inspiration and motivation to keep me going and one of my favorite persons to provide this for me is Brené Brown.  I just love her work!

So the other day as I was picking up a pile of children’s books at the library, I also picked up a copy of “Rising Strong.”  In general, it’s a book meant to help us with the process of “regaining our footing in the midst of struggle…”

In the book she says that the Rising Strong process has the goal “to rise from our falls, overcome our mistakes , and face hurt in a way that brings more wisdom and wholeheartedness into our lives.”

Her process includes 3 elements:

The Reckoning.  Recognize emotion, and get curious about our feelings and how they connect with the way we think and behave.

The Rumble.  Get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggle, then challenge these confabulations and assumptions to determine what’s truth, what’s self-protection, and what needs to change if we want to lead more wholehearted lives.

The Revolution.  Write a new ending to our story based on the key learnings from our rumble and use this new, braver story to change how we engage with the world and to ultimately transform the way we live, love, parent and lead.

The book’s focus is certainly not on infidelity (though it is a mountain of a struggle, for sure), but there was one section that dealt with forgiveness (something she has never really written about previously) that I wanted to share. 

So here are a couple excerpts from the book that I felt were quite worthwhile:

rising strongRumbling with Forgiveness

I was at church listening to Joe talk about forgiveness.  He was sharing his experience of counseling a couple who were on the brink of divorce after the woman discovered that her husband was having an affair.  They were both devastated by the potential end of their marriage, but she couldn’t forgive him for betraying her, and he couldn’t seem to forgive himself, either.  Joe looked up and said, “In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die.  If you make a choice to forgive, you have to face the pain.  You simply have to hurt.”

I instantly buried my head in my hands.  It was if someone had finally put the right sequence of numbers into a giant combination lock that I had been carrying around for years.  The tumblers started turning and falling into place.  Everything was clicking.  That was the piece that was missing.  Forgiveness is so difficult because it involves death and grief.  I had been looking for patterns in people extending generosity and love, but not in people feeling grief.  At that moment it struck me:  Given the dark fears we feel when we experience loss, nothing is more generous and loving than the willingness to embrace grief in order to forgive.  To be forgiven is to be loved.

The death or ending that forgiveness necessitates comes in many shapes and forms.  We may need to bury our expectations or dreams.  We may need to relinquish the power that comes with “being right” or put to rest the idea that we can do what’s in our hearts and still retain the support or approval of others.  Joe explained, “Whatever it is, it all has to go.  It isn’t good enough to box it up and set it aside.  It has to die.  It has to be grieved.  That is a high price indeed.  Sometimes it’s just too much.”

She goes on to quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu…

To forgive is not just to be altruistic.  It is the best form if self-interest.  It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and anger.  These emotions are all part of being human.  You should never hate yourself for hating others who do terrible things:  The depth of your love is shown by the extent of your anger.

However, when I talk of forgiveness, I mean the belief that you can come out the other side a better person.  A better person than one being consumed by anger and hatred.  Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator.  If you can find it in yourself to forgive, then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator.  You can move on, and you can even help the perpetrator to become a better person, too.

So, forgiveness is not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act; it’s the process of taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live.  What the Tutus found in their work on forgiveness validates not just the importance of naming our experiences and owning our stories but also how rumbling with a process can lead to clarity, wisdom and self-love.  So often we want easy and quick answers to complex struggles.  We question our own bravery, and in the face of fear, we back down too early.

I’ve never met anyone – personally or professionally – who didn’t have to rumble with forgiveness.  That includes self-forgiveness too.  Within families and in other close relationships, we love each other and we hurt each other. The question becomes, What has to end or die so we can experience a rebirth in our relationships?

 

Here’s the promotional trailer for “Rising Strong” which I thought was pretty energizing. (Click on the graphic)

 

Thoughts?  Experiences?  Comments?  Please leave them below.  Thanks!

 

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The Real Journey to Forgiveness
It’s for You, Not for Your Spouse

There are misconceptions about forgiveness that cause many misunderstandings and also serve as roadblocks to the healing process.

We clear up the misconceptions, provide the real scoop on forgiveness, and show you how to get rid of lingering feelings in such a way that allows forgiveness to become a healing force in your life.

 

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12 Responses to Brené Brown on ‘Rumbling with Forgiveness’

  1. Shifting Impressions September 2, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

    Linda, thank you so much for recommending this amazing book. I have been reading, underlining, crying and reading some more for hours. There is so much food for thought in this book.

    All of us dealing with infidelity were thrown into an arena we never expected to be in. But nevertheless here we are fighting the fight of our lives. Just the term “leaning into the struggle” brings me to tears.

    I hope you and Doug never underestimate the difference you have made and are making in so many lives by “Rising Strong” in you own lives.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    • Linda September 3, 2015 at 6:07 am #

      Shifting Impressions, Isn’t that a great book?? Like I said, I just love her work, and it has helped me through many a tough time – even dealing with a bunch of first graders for the first time in decades! Take care and thanks for the kind words.

  2. Tryinghard September 3, 2015 at 7:15 pm #

    Linda
    As a teacher can you recommend any good reading for my grandson who started kindergarten this year? He is having a terrible time with behavior issues and it breaks my heart. His parents divorced, he’s moved around 5 times since the divorce. His father got his girlfriend pregnant and a new baby came 9 months after the divorce. He’s had so many changes and upheavals and is really acting out aggressively. He even pulled a chair out from under me causing me to fall and break my tail bone!!! It’s a mess. I’m a mess over this. My son married the GF but she’s the proverbial wicked interfering step mother. I so feel for my grandson but also my hands are tied. Oh yeah, my son and I don’t speak. Not my wishes but new wife’s manipulation to keep him from his family and friends. Lol. Did I mention it’s a mess????

    • Linda September 4, 2015 at 7:03 am #

      Hi Tryinghard, One book that comes to mind right away is Monster Goes to School which addresses behavior issues in school. Our counselor mentioned several books for similar situations and if I see her today I will ask her for a list. (I’m assuming you are referring to books for your grandson to read} Most of my first graders can’t even count, much less read! It’s going to be a long year!

      • TryingHard September 4, 2015 at 8:16 am #

        Thank you Linda. I will look for it. But yes I was looking for something to read toend support. My grandson is very bright. He can count, reads some words, he writes but most of all he is very aware but he acts out. All the turmoil in his little life is t helping. My so. Is going through a lot and unfortunately doesn’t have the best influence in his life right now. I’m sure this has a bearing on his son. My therapist told me about a book called What Ki dervarten Teachers Know. I’m going to try that one for sure. Ugh trying to keep this family together is like herding cats!!!

  3. TryingHard September 4, 2015 at 8:17 am #

    Kindergarten that is

  4. Beckyb2 September 5, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    My husband can’t seem to understand his serial cheating has created a shit load of anger and yes even hatred which he thinks should disappear with forgiveness . His problem is I am overwhelmed at forgiving 17 years of his serial cheating STI STD my miscarriage and three kids conceived by me while he was in whore land porn land plus 4 years of complete BULL shit. My forgiving him has absolutely NOTHING to do with him and his treating my anger as if I have no reason to express it to him has in the last week made me look him straight in his eyes and tell him HE has to get help or we are going to have the lawyers file divorce papers and yes that means serving every whore with papers as I intend to sue the pants off every single one of them and yes I am still pissed off I am from the south where during the whores can become ugly and VERY PUBLIC. I am never gonna sit quietly and I’m not about to shut up and go away. If my husband can get the help he needs that will be a big help for him and all of us who love and need him to be his best we all survived his worst we all DESERVE his best. Perhaps this is more of like the end of his lifetime of lying he may learn lies never help they only hurt.

    • TheFirstWife September 7, 2015 at 7:31 pm #

      This is a sad situation all around. For you, family, your extended families and even him.

      One thing I learned through therapy and my H’s emotional affairs and most recent affair, is that we, the ever loving supportive spouse cannot change them or their behavior.

      No threats or ultimatums will change him. He either wants to change or he does not.

      Second thing I learned through this blog, thanks to all who have contributed is that ACTIONS speak volumes and words are often times empty hollow promises. Watch what your H does, ignore what he says.

      Third thing is to have your plan B ready at all times. Know where every asset and dollar is. Save every email and text and everything you may need in case of divorce. Not saying to fight dirty but sometimes people become very vindictive and you need to be prepared.

      Fourth and this is from my therapist. Your H will do whatever it takes to make amends and get you to stay (if he chooses that option). However it will not last. I am not saying he will cheat again but you will start to see certain patterns or behaviors re-appear. As s example my H has communication issues with me. Doesn’t feel the need to talk or respond to me (his whole family just tunes people put). For 6 months he made sure I was not tuned out. One year later and I see some evidence of that behavior. My point is some habits are hard to change completely. Don’t be surprised by it if it happens.

      I pray this works out for you – whatever the outcome is. I hope it is the best thing because you don’t have the relationship you deserve. I hope he gets it. Soon.

    • TheFirstWife September 7, 2015 at 7:39 pm #

      Also find a good therapist. I just recently got over the anger issues and his first EA was 18 years ago. He always denied it. He made me out to be crazy and jealous.

      However his last EA/PA almost led to divorce. I had anger over that too.

      And my anger lingered until 3 weeks ago (2 years from DDay 1 and 18 months from DDay2) because I was able to say things that were still rumbling under the surface.

      And NOW he decides we should go to counseling. My take is I don’t need counseling because I stopped being a doormat and finally stood up for myself. I am good. Bye is scared. Haha I finally have the upper hand. He is now afraid I will leave him.

      But you need to deal with the anger and resentment in some way. Therapy can help?

  5. Scott October 17, 2015 at 9:40 am #

    I simply will never understand the new age definition of forgiveness. Despite all the professional proclaimations the only beneficiary of forgiveness is the offending party. You can accept the past and move on without giving a cheater a get of jail free card. All forgiveness ever does is make shitty people feel good about being shitty. The best way to get over the past is to just get bored with it. Accept it and move forward. But telling someone you forgive them for cheating or betrayal does nothing. In fact it satisfies nothing for the forgiver. Just move on with your life and be happy.

  6. TryingHard October 17, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Scott
    I love that “the best way to get over the past is to get bored with it”. Brilliant and true.

    Personally I’ve given up on the whole idea of forgiveness. I call bullshit on forgiveness. What’s more is I don’t think my h even wants or expects forgiveness so why am I gnashing my teeth over it??

    They say forgiveness frees you. Well I found trying to reach that whole judeo-Christian idea of forgiveness pretty elusive. And know what, I feel more free trying to attain it.

    Accept your hand that’s dealt, live yourself first, be vigilant and move on. And now LOL, get bored with the whole thing. I love it:)

  7. TryingHard October 17, 2015 at 10:31 am #

    Should have said, giving up on trying to attain it

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