Hello, Internet. I think this is where we clap. (audience applauds) Welcome to another episode of Chase Jarvis Live, I'm Chase Jarvis, your host, your guide, and wow, what a show do we have here today. The person that we are talking to, she calls herself a vulnerability expert, a researcher, a storyteller. I know her as a TED Talk maniac badass, someone who's deeply, deeply inspired me. I call her a life changer, a game changer, and she also has three New York Times bestsellers in the top right now. That's crazy. (audience applauds) I know, I don't think that's ever happened, actually. We're here to talk about her new book, how it affects creativity and a lot of the things that are near and dear to us. So, big round of applause for Brene Brown. (audience applauds and cheers)
I'm so happy. (upbeat music) Woo, hello. It's been a while.
How long has it been?
I think it's like a year and change, maybe. Maybe someone can find out the answer to that and get back to us. It feels ...
like a year, but a year of living with your material has been a very, very powerful year for me, personally, because Daring Greatly was a game changer for me, and that's one of the things that I wanted to open with is, only after you sort of read all the bits of work you have done, the books, of which, again, you have three-- is that real? Three books in the top 10 of the New York Times bestseller list, has that ever happened before?
I was upstairs, and my husband started screaming "Hat trick! Hat trick!" (audience laughing) I was like, what's happening, what does that mean? Yeah it was crazy, it was really exciting.
That's so powerful.
I've got an amazing community.
I do, they rock.
They move mountains. I consider myself a part of your community.
We move mountains, right? We move mountains. So the work really, really made sense to me, with this, not that it didn't make sense before, but it was galvanized like, oh my gosh, she's systematically knocking down these dominoes. Basically the first book is like be vulnerable, second one is put yourself out there, third one is when you're down, here's how to get up. But you have a much more eloquent way of talking about it. I've heard some of your interviews before. So tell us about the trilogy and talk about Rising Strong, what we're talking about today.
Okay, well, first of all, thanks for having me back. Everything you're doing is really exciting.
You are always welcome, any time, right there.
I walked in and I was like, oh my gosh.
We've grown up a little bit, huh?
Yeah, like, congratulations, it's a big deal.
Thank you very much.
I know a lot of people that you're really changing their lives, so congratulations.
Thank you very much. Can this get back to you? It's getting awkward. (audience laughing)
Let's talk about you for a...no.
Could you imagine, vulnerability, be on stage, not a bad mix.
Trained as a mental health professional, I could really mess with him, right? Wouldn't that be fun to watch for just a little while?
We'll talk about me when it gets to the gold-plated grit part of this conversation. But back to you, please.
Okay, so I guess the way I think about it-- I don't think it meant to be a trilogy, it was just kind of the organic growing of the research. So I think of the Gifts of Imperfection as be you, and then Daring Greatly as be all in, and then Rising Strong is get your ass kicked, learn something, get up and go back in. And so it made sense, and there almost felt like an ethical imperative after Daring Greatly, because we would get thousands of emails of like "I dared greatly, and she left me." Or "I dared greatly, and I got fired." And so I thought yeah, because the only thing I know for sure about being courageous with your life, and you know this, as everyone knows this, is if you're brave enough often enough, you're gonna fall. And it's so funny 'cause I spend the majority of my time now with leaders. And I'll say if you're brave enough often enough, you're gonna fall, and they're like I'm willing to risk falling. I'm like, that's not what I'm saying. I'm not saying you're going to risk falling. I'm saying you're actually...
100% guaranteed, you will fall.
You're guaranteed you're gonna fall, you're gonna get hurt. They're like I believe if we mitigate the risk, I'm like, no. You can mitigate the risk all the way to the point where you're not being brave anymore, right?
That's so painful to hear, but so right.
Yeah, I live it, I know. I got a lot of face plant experience, personally and professionally. So I think this seemed like the right next thing to do.
And the beauty of it is we need recipes. We're humans, I think life is a big, ambiguous thing, especially for the large part of the audience in this room and that pay attention to what I do on Creative Live, are creatives. And I think it's fair to say that there's sort of an emotional sensibility that people who are creative for a living, or classify themselves as such, there's sort of a vulnerability or sensitivity I feel like, just knowing myself and my peers, and we haven't really ever been given the toolkit to get back up. And so this book--I'm gonna actually maybe get a nice (whistles) right, right? It's just been a tremendous toolkit that I'll go back to over and over again. And I would love to, in your own words, talk about what you've done. And there's this great line, you're in the arena... Actually do you know the quote by heart, the arena quote?
So this was a big part of Daring Greatly and we talked about it the last time you were on the show, can you just give us that quote again? 'Cause it's awesome.
It was. It's the total arc of it. I came across this quote after the TED talk went viral. I was in every online outlet you could imagine, from the BBC to Al Jazeera to what is this TED talk, and why vulnerability? And there were just, I made the mistake of reading all the online comments, against the advice of my therapist and my husband. And in those comments was every single thing I feared and everything that kind of kept me keeping my career kind of small and safe. And so I came across this quote that day, and it was Theodore Roosevelt, "It's not the critic "who counts." It just says "It's not he critic who counts, "It's not the man who points out how the strong man "stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done "it better, the credit belongs to the person who's "actually in the arena, whose face is marred with "dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, "who errs, who comes up short again and again and again, "and who in the end may know the triumph "of high achievement, and who, when he fails, "at least does so daring greatly."
And so in that moment, I just knew that I want to live my life in the arena, that's who I want to be. I want to be brave with my life. And so it was a huge game changer for me, too.
The being in the arena, it used to have one connotation because it was reserved for the people who were selling out Madison Square Garden and were on television professionally and in the news, and now we're all creators, we're all, we no longer require permission from anyone to be putting our stuff out there. We used to require permission from the gallerist or the newspaper, or the person who manages Madison Square Garden, but we no longer have that, so again I go back to toolkit. Now that there are so many more of us and it's so easy to actually be in the arena, we need this toolkit. So thank you for writing it, first of all.
Well and let me go back and say thank you to you and all the creatives, 'cause I spent a huge portion, for the first time really in my career, a huge amount of time interviewing specifically creatives for this work. Because what's interesting is you have the toolkit.
Tell us about us.
Do you want to learn about you? You have the tools. Here's the biggest compliment to me. If I give a talk or someone watches my TED talk, usually what people will say is I already knew everything you said, I just had no language for it. I had no way to think about it and hold it. Creatives have the tools. Because what I wanted to do going into this research, is I asked myself, who rises strong? Who gets their asses kicked on a regular basis and they get back up with more tenacity and courage, just in the course of a day? That was my question. So the very first answer I had: creatives. And it was a weird mix, it's creatives, special forces, veterans, people who just, you have to rise because it's part of your job. And so the thing, when you're a creative, every day you wake up, you walk into the dark. Every day you do this with your life and your work, and you show us something that you've made, and something that you've done and something that's important to you, and it never goes well every time. But it's your job to either dismiss the feedback that's just hurtful and not gonna be helpful, or bring in the feedback that's helpful and to get back up. You have to get back up for a living.
And so to me, what was the craziest thing about creativity, and talking to makers... And you know, for me, a creative is, I don't care whether you're rebuilding an engine, or you're a photographer.
That is so true. Creativity with a capital C is... The wheel is mechanical engineering plus creativity.
E equals mc squared is theoretical science plus creativity. So creativity with a capital C is literally the solution to every fundamental human problem.
Not just painters, photographers, musicians.
And I think we talked about this last time, you know, there's no such thing as creative and not creative beings.
Right. And in fact, the big joke, I used to be like very anti-creative, then people would say hey, do you want to go do this? I'm like, oh that's cute, no. You go do your little A-R-T, I've got a J-O-B. And you can circle back when you want to do some real stuff. And then I get into this research and it's like... (audience laughing)
She's said that way too many times.
Yeah I do, I just said it. And then I get into this research and I'm like oh my God, we're all creative. And the worst part was unused--it was so clear in the data-- unused creativity. Creativity that's been disowned is not benign.
It's powerful and it's painful.
It's painful. It metastasizes and turns into dangerous things. And so talking to creatives, y'all have the tools, you just do it every day. So what I wanted to do is just pluck 'em out, pull 'em apart, look at 'em, and name them. What is the process, men and women, who fall and get back up and are braver haven fallen in the service of courage, what do they have in common?
And it's a three step process, right?
It is kind of a three step process. I always hate to call it that because it makes it sound like it might be easy.
It's not a three step process. (audience laughing)
Yeah, it's not a three step process. There are things that people have in common across the data, and so the first is, let me--let's tell a story.
I love--you're a professional, I love story time.
A story, okay. So Chase and I leave this interview, and we walk out and I'm talking to Kate. And I go thanks so much for having me, Chase. And he goes (sigh). And I'm like... So I get in my car, and I'm going back to my hotel and I'm like oh my God, what did that--I sucked. I must've screwed it up. I must've said something wrong. What did I? I've never liked Chase. You know what, I don't even know why I did this. (audience laughing) All of the sudden... Yes or no?
I can't even hear those words for pretend, it hurts.
Yeah, no. Why? Because when something hard happens, we are neurobiologically wired for one thing, and that's survival. So when something hard happens, when you show someone a piece of your work, or something, or you get a dirty look, or someone makes a comment, the first thing our brain does is scramble to make sense of it. And the brain recognizes the narrative structure of a story, beginning, middle, and end. So the brain wants a story that says, here's what's happening, but the story can have no uncertainty or ambiguity. Chase is maybe being a jerk, he doesn't like you, he didn't think you were very smart on the show.
I don't like this story. (audience laughing)
Let me tell you a real story. Y'all want to know a real story?
I don't like the painful part of the fake story.
No, let me tell you this real story. This just happened. I spoke at HubSpot last week. Okay, 13,000 people in this Boston Convention Center. It's like 10 minutes before I go on, and I look at Twitter, and this person sends this tweet out that says "why is Brene at HubSpot?" "why is @BreneBrown at HubSpot 2015?" And he'd just tweeted like "love Seth Godin, "love Amy Schumer", all these people, but "why is Brene Brown...?" I'm like oh my God, why am I at HubSpot? What am I doing here? (audience laughing) And then I start sweating and it's like a Convention Center, it's like "Ladies!" and I'm like oh my God, what am I doing? And I'm the opening keynote. And I'm like... And then he tweets it again, and I'm like oh my God. And so these are my marketing people. And so I start googling on my phone, marketing terms 2015. And the first term that comes up is incentivize. And I'm like I've gotta work the word incentivize into this keynote. What does that mean exactly, I don't know. But I'm gonna say, we're gonna incentivize... I'm like what is happening? And I have a total crisis of confidence. 'Cause you know shame drives two tapes, not good enough and who do you think you are? And I'm like, who am I? Right, snaps, terrible. And so then all the sudden, I'm like, who is it? 'Cause what happens when you get backed into a corner? My brain is making up this story, you don't belong here. I'm like that story's not gonna work, 'cause I'm going on in five seconds. I'm like, so okay, the best case scenario, attack. Attack, attack this guy. Maybe attack him from the stage.
Maybe use that as my opening.
Maybe say like John Doe asked what I'm doing here, well let me tell you all... And then I click on the tweet to figure out what his name is, and I actually hit the link in his tweet, and it goes to this page that says what is Brene Brown doing at HubSpot? She's talking about vulnerability and that's so important, here's her TED talk, here are her books. (audience laughing) Could you imagine if I would have gone out there and been like a crazy...
Yeah, totally. And that's a true story. It just happened.
Oh, so this is, can we go back to me now? (audience laughing) You were just telling a fake story about me and it wasn't really that you were mad at me.
No. No, but we need to understand the story. We need to understand.
There's a story and you're missing pieces.
Yes, so what happens is, when something hard happens, and we're captured by something difficult, our emotions get the first crack at making sense of something--a bad look, a hard phone call, a disagreement at work. We think that we're rational beings. We think that cognition is going to carry us through and make sense of it, but it doesn't. Emotion's driving, Thought and Behavior are not even in the front seat riding shotgun, they're not even in the back seat. Thought and Behavior are in the trunk, going, "Hey!" and Emotion's driving. So the first thing we do is we tell ourselves a story that reduces ambiguity about what happened. So, oh, I'm not supposed to be here, I'm not good enough to be here, oh in my fake story about you, I did something that pissed him off, I said something wrong, I didn't do something right. Men and women who have the greatest capacity for rising strong, in the moment something happens, they hack into that neurobiological process of making up a story. They stop and say, wait a minute, what's actually going on here? What am I feeling? What do I know for sure? 'Cause what is a story? There's a name in research for a story that has one or two limited data points and we fill in the rest with fear, it's called a conspiracy. (audience laughing) A conspiracy is a story with limited data points, so here's what I know, I know a guy sent a tweet. I know I'm getting ready to talk. That's all I know. So now that I'm ready to ruin his career and use him as a whipping person as I talk, what is going on? Why? Because I'm making up a story to minimize... How many of you have ever gotten in a conflict at work and you walk out of the conflict with a whole story made up about what's happening.
Put your hands up. (audience laughing)
Not rhetorical. Right, or your partner says something. Like Steve, the other day, was like, no I don't think... I was like I have nothing to wear to your party tonight. I'm so stressed out, I just got home, I'm on this book tour and he's like maybe we'll stay home. I'm like, do you think I'm not gonna look cute at the party? (audience laughing) Are you worried that I'm not gonna be rocking out at the party? I'll look good for your party. He was like, no, I'm just trying to be helpful, do you not want to go? No. Look, if you want to go to the party but you want to take somebody else to the party? He's like what's happening? How many of you've ever been in that? This poor guy is looking like, is that what's happening?
Yesterday. (audience laughing)
So how do we, in the moment of hard things happening-- a fall--and a fall can be anything. And let me tell you for sure, a fall can be heartbreak, a fall can be failure at work, a fall can be a disappointment. But the minute something happens, emotion gets the first crack at it, and so we have to stop in that moment, and instead of conspiring or confabulating, which is one of my favorite words from the book, isn't it a great word? What's a confabulation? A confabulation is a lie told honestly. And so as a social worker, we study confabulation when we talk about traumatic brain injury, or we talk about dementia. So a confabulation would be Steve's like why don't we just stay home tonight, I know you're exhausted, you just flew in, and I'm like, you know what, dude, whatever. And then I go into my room, I call Kate, and I'm like, you're not even gonna believe, Steve doesn't want to take me to the party 'cause he thinks I look bad in my dress. Is that a lie?
Or is it a confabu--is it a lie told honestly? It's what I believe.
I know, that's painful.
But it is.
But it's a lie, right? Do you see how it gets crazy? What if I would have...
And you go there 100 miles an hour.
100 miles an hour.
Transported there instantly.
Right, so that's the trick, you're 100 miles an hour. Here's what I almost did at HubSpot, I almost looked up at the person coordinating the event, and almost said, before I went on stage, you know, really and truly, if you're going to have me at these events or you're going to have speakers at this event, you should really make sure that people who work for you around the country are not being hurtful. Could you imagine if I would've...
Ugh. (audience laughing)
And you're this close from doing it, right?
I'm that close, I got the whole speech. 'Cause who are you when you get hurt? Let's talk about you, Chase.
I was afraid this was gonna happen.
So something hard happens. Someone makes a really hard criticism of something you're doing with your work. What is the first thing that you do? What is your go-to response when something hard happens?
Is to decide if that's valid. And I read the thing and I'm like--generally, I've trained myself to not, but it's a response to my human, cellular level says I'm gonna apply that filter to reality, or apply that statement using my filter to reality, and my default is that person probably knows something I don't know. And so I actually, my human response is to read it and to take it personally. And I have trained myself through reading YouTube comments--you guys done that lately? It's not pleasant. (audience laughing)
That's not smart.
But I have trained myself, my response now is I go back to the arena, I got back to my little list. She told me to make a little list, which is here are the people who you give a shit about.
Yeah it's so good, she's got it in her bag. So I'm like okay this person's not on the list of people that I love, and I've done this professionally for a long time. If you do any great work, you're gonna create naysayers. The part that I'm sad at and the part that I'm sharing here is that it does kick off a little, there's a little conversation that happens, even if I'm at the end, like cool, you're still you, you got this. But I hate that I burn the cycles thinking about it.
Okay, so let's do...
This is therapy here, folks.
No, this really helpful, 'cause I can tell you right now, when something emotional happens to me, you know, some of us want to hide, and some of us come out swinging, and some of us come out people pleasing. I come out swinging.
Got it. I would say, so if I was given a, b, or c, it would be like processing, and I'm still good, I got this, but let me show you. For sure, so I'm a swinger. It's like I don't even know you, fool, like pfft. So and then I would try and compensate by doing something more awesome.
Improving even more.
Which is a terrible thing.
It is a terrible thing 'cause it's exhausting 'cause then you're like what am I doing? Now I'm on the stage making fun of somebody, putting him down, I'm probably getting him fired, and for what? Because why? Because of a tweet.
And a tweet that was actually incredibly complimentary of you and your work (laughing).
So that thing that you do, and I know you do this, 'cause we've talked about it before. The thing where you pause and you ask hard questions is exactly what men and women do who rise strong.
Yeah, I know, yeah, no, they do. In those moments, they reckon with emotion. So the first step of rising strong is recognize you've been snagged by emotion, and get curious about it. That's it. But how many of you were raised in families where you were raised to get curious about your emotions and talk about them and explore them? (audience laughing) Right? Versus how many of you were raised in families where you were taught, hey, suck it up, push through and get it done? So the first thing is really reckoning with emotion. What am I feeling and what do I need to know more about? And so that thing that you say, does someone know something that I don't know? Do they have information I don't have? That's a huge part of the reckoning. We just don't do it. So in that minute, in the backstage when I was on my phone, I could have just said, whoa, Brene, your heart is racing, your teeth are clenched and you're going in for the kill here. What do you know about this? Nothing. You know nothing. And what if you knew everything? Who cares? Who gives a shit? There are 13,000 people. You're gonna spend an hour targeting one guy you don't know?
And 12,999 are gonna walk out of there with their mouth wide open like, what just happened to me, that was incredible.
But have you ever watched it? Have you ever watched someone take down someone because they were hurt?
What does that feel like?
It's so painful, it's so painful. Look I'm getting sweaty just talking about HubSpot. Really, let me tell you, when you're getting ready to go on and you look at your phone and it says why is she here? You're like... So, the first part is to reckon. But what do most of us do with emotion? Instead of reckoning, most of us offload emotion. We push it down, we numb it, we rage. We are much better at inflicting pain than feeling pain. Much better at causing hurt than handling hurt. So the first thing is we have to really reckon with emotion. We asked hundreds and hundreds of people, and we don't know a lot about emotion. We asked hundreds and hundreds of people, list every emotion you've ever felt that you know about, that you understand. Do you know what the average number was?
Less than 10, has to be.
[Audience Members Call Out] Three, four, five.
Three? Did you study before you came here?
The average person acknowledges that they're familiar with or know or can recognize three emotions or affects in themselves. Happy, sad and pissed off.
So how can we reckon with emotion and recognize it if we don't even know what emotion is? We weren't raised with an emotional lexicon. You know, we weren't raised to understand, wow, something is going on.
So to take it back to 30,000 feet for just a second. If you're just joining us from somewhere out in the world, I'm Chase Jarvis, I'm sitting here with Brene Brown, and we are talking about her new book, Rising Strong. We're taking questions in just a couple minutes at hashtag CJ Live on the Facebooks and the Twitters. You folks in the in-studio audience, I know there's a lot of people taking notes and writing questions.
Y'all are note takers.
Yeah, we'll get to you in just a second, but to frame the conversation again, right now you're talking about sort of one of the steps towards the process of rising strong, right. So reckon--what was it?
Reckoning with emotion.
That's right, reckoning with emotion.
Yeah, we just start with the basic premise. If you love somebody, anybody in your life, you're gonna get your heart broken. If you're engaged enough in your work, in your life, you're gonna get disappointed, and if you're creative enough, and innovative enough, you're gonna fail. So we start from the premise that you're gonna fall. The question is, getting back up. First think reckon with emotion. I'm snagged, something's going on, and what are you...? Can I ask them questions?
Yeah, please do.
Okay, so how do you know when you've been snagged by emotion? Think about it. Someone gives you a look, or you read a comment, or someone says something, how do you know you're in emotion?
Nisha, what's your answer to that question? Hey, Nisha, that's my wife, Kate, you guys should know each other.
Yes, we said hi. So I know I'm snagged by emotion...
Can you stand up, Nisha?
Yeah, when I'm unable to see any other perspective or there's an emotion that's--sorry, a story that's crashing around the emotion, so it's not the purity of sensation, it's like all the sensation and oh my gosh I'm horrible, oh my God, there gonna see me, ah, he's an asshole, you know whatever the story that's contracted around the emotion.
So the story's crashing around you and you have lost perspective. Okay that's exactly right. What else, what other, just think about what is a response? Yeah?
Do we need a mic?
We'll give you a mic.
It's a physical experience that is different, it's a rapid change to a different physical experience than where I was before that emotion.
So you got heart beating...
Yeah, sweat, or happy. It doesn't necessarily have to be that gut clench with fear.
Emotions are both sides of the coin here.
It can be just like the world looks shinier, I feel lighter inside, just as much as it can be I feel tighter.
So there's a physical shift.
Okay I think what you're describing and what you're describing points to everything we know in the data, which is there is a physiological response to emotion. So what you're describing, some people will break down and say I get tunnel vision. I can see only what's happening in front of me, I have no... So we have a physiological response. So men and women who have the best capacity for rising strong know the physiology of emotion. So they get tunnel vision, something shifts in them, you end up in the pantry and you don't know how you got there, but you're foraging for carbohydrates, you know. (audience laughing) Right? You want to punch a wall. Your heart's racing, my ears are burning, my armpits tingle, there's a physiological response to emotion. So then all you need to do is get curious about it. You don't have to be like oh, shame is washing over me, I feel small and terrible. You just say, okay, something's going on. What is it? That's the whole first step. If you can intervene there, you can change the course of your story. The second part is, that first story we make up, we have to rumble with that first story. So with the HubSpot example, what am I doing here? I don't belong here, I'm not smart enough. I don't even understand this. I don't belong here, I'm not good enough. If you--so let's go back to this example, you and I walk out, I say thanks for the interview, and you go ugh. And immediately I make up a story, God I screwed up that interview, I must have said something bad. Something must have happened. So let me tell you how that ends. The story I make up is that I did something bad, Chase is mad at me. Maybe I don't even like Chase, well, yeah, we're not friends, it's over. That's okay, that's all right, we're done. 70% of the men and women who rise the strongest, well, all of them recognize that first story, 70% of them write it down.
They write down the story. Why? Why would you write down the story? I have a thing on my phone called SFD. I call these stories the shitty first draft. (audience laughing) Yeah, 'cause Ann Lamott has this great book about writing, Bird by Bird, and she said all good writers start with a shitty first draft. Don't all good photographers start with some kind of...
For sure, you take a picture, you look at the back of your camera, yeah, absolutely.
Right, so that first story that we make up is super important, it tells us everything that we don't know and everything we're afraid of. So if you own that story and you put a handle on it by writing it down and look at it, then you can ask the three biggest questions of rising strong: what story are you making up, what's true, and what do you really need to know more about? So how I would handle this today, I think five years ago I would have gone off and said you don't like me, I did something wrong, I'm not enough, and it could have even turned into a really big shit show, because then I could have started talking to people we both know, saying, do you think he's a jerk? You all know how that goes, in a split second.
And before I know it, Oprah thinks I'm a jerk.
Not possible. Not possible. But what I would do now is I would probably sit in my car or I would sit in the dressing room and I would be like what story am I telling? What is going on? I'd test it to myself or write it down. And then I would circle back with you and say, hey, do you have a sec? So let's just role play it. Do you have a second?
Yeah, sure, what's up?
Hey, when we were walking out of the interview yesterday I said thanks and everything, and you kind of shrugged your shoulders and like rolled your eyes at me, and I'm making up that you're pissed off about something. Is there anything we need to clean up?
Oh my gosh, just that you thought I was mad at you for even a second, I'm not mad at all. I just remembered that I left my phone in my car.
Like, we did not practice that. But he knows that's the answer, because that's the answer 90% of the time. I almost fired somebody I was so frustrated with this person, because like two or three meetings in a row, we'd walk out and they'd be like (sighs loudly) and I was like, man, if this is not working for you, we can arrange something else. (audience laughing) And then finally I just said, hey, I need to talk to you. We've been getting out of meetings for the last two weeks and every time you're like huffing and puffing and rolling your eyes, and I'm making up that you're unhappy, something's going on, you're feeling like... She goes, oh my God. I started Zumba a couple weeks ago and when I sit down now for more than 30 seconds I'm not even kidding you, it's like my hip locks from Zumba. And I'm like immediately I'm transported to like, I love Zumba, where do you take Zumba? (audience laughing) But in that minute, how many of you would have more respect for someone who said, hey, something weird happened yesterday and I'm making up that there's something going on. Can we clean it up? Is there something I need to... How many would respect a person... And it's awesome. Here's a great story. I'm in a meeting with my leadership team, and it's like a three hour huge meeting, and we're under a lot of stress, we're growing something big and new, it's hard, and I look down, there's three agenda items left, and we have like 15 minutes or something and we're already in hour three, people are just like, ugh. So I'm like let's just take all this stuff off, except for this one thing that's tactical and in the weeds and we gotta get this stuff answered today, so let's just do it. So we start talking, and then like five minutes later, my CFO looks at me and says, I'm sorry I've got to interrupt. I was like, what's up? He said, I'm really frustrated. The story I'm making up right now is you took this off the agenda 'cause it's not important anymore, which is fine, except for the fact that I'm spending 90% of my time and resources as is my team on this issue right here. So if it's not important anymore, I'd like to know about it. And I'm like man, thank you for having the balls to do that.
That's big time.
Because do you really want someone on your team sitting there in resentment and not listening? I said, no, I'm pulling it out because it's the most important thing on the agenda and I will not cram it into 20 minutes. We will have another meeting where we spend an hour dedicated to just this. And he's like, thanks.
But I mean, how many times do we just sit with these stories we make up?
Why aren't we given these tools early in life? (audience agrees) Like that's the part that kills me is that I'm too old to be not knowing these things. And yet I find, and I think one of the reasons your work is so spectacularly popular is because we don't have these tools. Imagine a world where we're given these tools as young people. And again, talking to the creative community that's largely listening here, imagine the work that would be possible, and the work that's shut down because of these feelings that we wrestle with, we don't have the toolkit, my gosh.
And I will tell you that, I write this in the book, there is nothing more profoundly dangerous than the stories we make up about our creativity. There are no--our creativity, our lovability, and our divinity are the three most dangerous stories we make up. And we have to reclaim those narratives. We have to say just because someone didn't understand or put value on something I created doesn't change its worth or my worth.
No one is ordained to take our story of faith, our story of spirituality and say it's real or not real based on who we are or who we love or what we believe in. You know, and the biggest one is really our lovability. Just because someone doesn't have the capacity or the ability to love us, doesn't change our lovability. It doesn't make us unlovable because someone couldn't love us. And one of the first stories we lean into when we have someone in our life who couldn't love us, is there something about me that's unlovable? And that is a profoundly dangerous narrative.
For sure, drives addiction, drives pain.
It drives everything, yeah. And so I think for me it's really all about when you own the story, you get to write the ending. When you say here's this crazy story I'm making up, and I'm gonna own it and it's super uncomfortable, but I am the author of my life. I will decide how this story ends.
I'm the decider.
I'm the decider. And I think creatives do that every day.
I actually credit my profession as being the thing, because you are--or especially very public figure like both of us, you're out there and your goal is to put work out into the world but do so very publicly. That is a very learned response to say--I can say that it didn't go like this at first, or early on the internet-- but to be able to say is this a story that I need to pay attention to? And I actually find this about not just reading YouTube comments, but the 4:00 a.m., the 3:00 a.m. voice when you wake up to go to the bathroom. That's a mean one, right? That's a mean ass voice.
Why is the bathroom voice so mean?
I don't know. (audience laughing) I just listened to a great podcast between Tim Ferris and Tara Brock. Tim's a good friend of both of ours. The voice, can we just shut that thing down, because it gets you when you're not ready for it. It's 4:00 in the morning and you're making your way to the bathroom. Did you do that thing? You didn't do that thing, did you? You were supposed to do the thing, and you didn't do the thing, and you call the person and say you didn't do the thing. Why do we get hijacked then?
Because our guards are down, because we're vulnerable, because we're just waking up to go pee. That's what happens. But I have to tell you, I have a great hack for that voice.
Ooh, I love this. Practical advice.
Yeah, this is practical advice. I thought at first, when I first started researching shame, because it's a shamey, gremlin voice that happens, I thought at first that you just like "shut up, go away," but then all the sudden, now you're awake and you've got all this fight energy and you're like oh my God, it's 4:00, I think the best thing to do is, I think it's Rumi who said invite your enemy to tea. But I think what you do is say you know what, I hear you. I get it, I get how you're trying to protect me, but I'm good, thanks. It's such a...
I can't wait to have that conversation tonight. (audience laughing)
If you've ever raised a toddler, you know that if you engage, you know, and you're like, if you engage, they will do things that you will not do, so they will win. They will throw themselves on the floor, they'll scream, they'll yell. And shame is the same way. But if you turn toward that voice that says oh my God, you forgot the email to this person, or you were supposed to do this, or why didn't you do this? And you say wow, I hear ya'. I got it, thanks. Or, the voice that says, you can't do this thing tomorrow, you're not good enough. It's so easy to turn toward it and say, I really get how you're trying to protect me, appreciate it, I'm going in anyway. Thanks. And just go right back to sleep.
Oh, this is such good...mmm I love it!
No, it's really helpful as opposed to getting all fight energy with it.
Yes. I'm gonna take a sip of water, because we're gonna try and find a person in the audience who's got a question for Brene. We've got the two people who've already spoken. Anyone else? Anyone? Anyone? Yes, my good man.
So if you could give any advice to your 25-year-old self, what would it be? As far as countering vulnerability and moving forward, 'cause you guys have both obviously made it, but for someone like me who's young and that gremlin voice is constantly on me, I was just wondering if you could share any words?
I don't know if I can phrase it how I would say it to my--well I guess what I would tell my 25-year-old self is this--and my 25-year-old self would have flipped me right off... (audience laughing) so let me just tell you, let me just preface it that way, but I think I would have told my 25-year-old self all the pleasing and proving and perfecting that you're doing is getting the way of what you're supposed to be doing. You will never--I would have just grabbed myself by the shoulders and shook myself and said, you can never live the life that you want to live and not disappoint other people. You'll need to choose now. That's what I would have told my 25-year-- you're gonna piss some people off. You're gonna let down some people if you're yourself.
'Cause not everybody can like everybody, right?
Not everyone can like everyone, and you spend the first, you know your 30s are notoriously difficult for this. Your 30s are like (audience member snapping) (audience laughing) Yes, the 30s. Yeah, the 30s are like I can be me and be authentic and make everyone around me happy. (audience laughing) Yes or no? Yes. And then you get, this is the gift of midlife.
I'm too tired for that.
The gift of midlife is like, something's gotta go. (audience laughing) And for the first time in your life, you're like, it ain't gonna be me. So that's what I would tell my 25-year... You're gonna--not cruely or with intention, but you have something that only you can bring to the world, whether you're a photographer or a writer or a thinker, you've got something that only uniquely you can bring. And if you try to keep everyone around you happy while you're bringing it, you will not bring it. And not utilizing your gifts is dangerous.
That is awesome. I ask people to try and find pictures that only they can take. What is a picture that literally only you could take? And people say well anyone can take a picture of the Grand Canyon, and I'm like, yep, so don't take a picture of the Grand Canyon. Like what is a thing, a story that only you have access to? And whether that's access to a personality, to a whole group of people, and you're shooting portraits of them, whether it's a story that you have lived the life you've lived and now you have this perspective that is unique. Tell that story. Because that makes, that's the difference between something that's benign and general and simple, and something that is complex and human, and in the particular, lies the universal.
That's so true.
I ripped that off from somewhere, I don't remember where. (audience laughing)
I'm gonna rip it off. And I'll tell you this. I looked at some of your photos. I have a book, a beautiful book that you--a Seattle book.
The Seattle 100.
But even though I see your heart in those pictures of other people.
I have a unique relationship with those people that allowed me access that I don't think anyone else could have...
Yeah I saw you in them.
So it doesn't matter if there were 1,000 people as talented as you, no one can bring that.
That's the point. And as creatives, that is a message that we will never hear enough. That you are enough, and you have some angle, and your job--when people talk about finding your vision, your voice--your job is to find that. Like that's the work, that's the work that you need to do as a creative, and whether that's creative in hobby or career or just life, your job is to find the thing that you have a unique angle on and embrace that. That's authentic, that's sort of where authenticity comes into the conversation.
It is, totally.
Awesome question, I want to keep on truckin'. We've got one question here in the front. Tell us who you are and what's the question.
I'm Laquiba. So I have a question about when you're writing that story and then you go to the person, and you're gonna go to them authentically and say what you said. So, when that happens for me, I end up in a battle between my authentic voice and saying what you said, and the fear that comes over me. Like for some reason--well another story, I guess. I start to think I'm gonna hurt them, they're gonna be mad...
This is what I should do?
that I'm even telling them the story that I was writing in my head.
I think those are real fears. And I think those are reality. So I think there have been times when I've said to someone, and let me tell you one thing, you know your shitty first draft is honest when you can look at it and you feel like you would die if anyone ever found it. 'Cause those SFDs should be totally unfiltered. They should say, mine all sound like a really pissed off five-year-old, they're like, it's not fair, I hate this person, because it should be unfiltered and honest. And you need to ask yourself, what do I need to know more about the situation, about myself, and sometimes I don't even go to that person, sometimes I realize you know what, I'm only gonna go to you... Like if I go to you and say look, I'm in struggle and here's what I'm making up about what's happening between us right now, that is a complete vulnerable investment move, and if I don't have a relationship with you that is of some value to me, I'm gonna work that story out on my own. The other thing is, and this is huge, I think, part of this. We never share these struggles with people until our healing is not dependent on their reaction.
All right, snap, snap.
We like that speech there. (audience applauds)
So like let's say it's a hard story between me and someone in my family.
Steve. Steve's a hard one, because he and I use this, that line, the story I'm making up, he and I use that line in our marriage probably two or three times a week. I use it with my kids, our leadership team uses it. But let's say it's a parent or an in-law. For me, I've already worked through the hurt attached to that, so I want you to know this. And here's what happens. Let's say you're my mom, and I say look, this happened yesterday after church at lunch, and the story I make up is that you were embarrassed, you thought I was saying something I shouldn't have been saying in front of my sisters, and you were squeezing my knee under the table. And it really hurt my feelings, and so I'm making up that you think I was talking out of turn or something. And she comes back and says well you were talking out of turn. And you need to zip it. I don't think my mom would--my mom would never say that, but then it gives me a great opportunity to say okay, let me hear your concerns. I got it, I understand. Here's what's okay and here's what's not okay. It's okay for you to talk to me about your concerns, it's not okay to squeeze my leg under the table. And don't put me down in front of everybody at the table, those things are not okay.
Boundaries. So what ends up happening... It's totally boundaries. Every time I've come back telling someone here's what I'm making up about what's happening, and they're like damn straight I am mad, it's been a boundary issue. And so you gotta be... Your rise is never dependent on other people.
That's powerful. And I think about that, I went to the creative, the professional creative where you're putting your work out there all the time, and where it might be my job or someone else's job to say I don't know what you're thinking here, we need to go a little bit taller, a bit more black and white, a little bit whatever, and it's their job to process that and go on and make the next thing. And sometimes there's a different filter that they're applying to the feedback, like you can give the same feedback, you have a session every... The creative director rolls in and reviews the things and they do it every day at 3:00, and then one day at 3:00, you hear the same thing that you heard the day before or the day before that, but today it feels different. To me, that is something that the creative community, I went back to saying earlier we don't have the tools for it, and just literally the simple framework of... It's the professional creative's job to take feedback and then change their thing, but it's also to be able to say on that one day where you're like, I'm making up a little story that we've had feedback three days in a row and they think I'm a bad designer. And you could say oh, gosh, no, I don't think you're a bad designer. I think you're an awesome designer. I'm being extra hard on you because I want to push you to be the best designer you can possibly be.
That is so huge.
Yeah, but it's real and we don't have, I don't think, culturally, we don't have this, specifically in the creative community I see a lack of it, is the ability to ask that question. And the way you phrase it is very powerful. I'm making up a story right now, help me fill in the parts that are true and aren't true. And it just gives me this sort of open canvas to say what I really feel, and if I really feel that you're doing something wrong, it's an invitation to engage in a discussion about it.
That's it. Instead of reacting. Let me give you a very simple formula for the headline for this whole discussion today. He or she who has the greatest capacity for discomfort rises the fastest.
I think that might get tweeted a couple times.
Say it one more time.
He or she who has the greatest capacity for discomfort rises the fastest. And where I learned about discomfort is really from, I don't know who put this on Instagram, but the creatives, that whole creative process. Have you all seen this on Instagram and other places, it's like, this is gonna be awesome, this sucks, I suck, this is shit, this is awesome. That is the creative process, right? I mean, when I write, I sit down and write a chapter I'm like, this is gonna be awesome. Then I get an hour into it, I'm like, who cares? I don't care. No one reading this is gonna care. This sucks. I suck. And then, what happens, because it's your job, it's who you are, born makers, we keep pushing through and then you get to the place where you're like, this is awesome. And you know what? This is the thing about, in storytelling, there's act one, act two, and act three. Act one is the inciting incident. Something happens that's hard. Act two is where the main character tries to solve the problem by every easy way possible without being vulnerable. And so that's that part of the creative process where you're like, I want to do this and I don't want it to hurt. It's the darkness. You know the darkness, right?
Oh gosh, yeah, you're right about that.
It's the darkness.
Day two, it's day two. The thing about the darkness that creatives taught me, which is so beautiful to me and has changed my life, is that if it is your 500th meeting with a creative director, and you're in the dark and things are not getting better, and you've redesigned and redone this, and it's not better, you can't skip day two. You cannot skip act two, even if this is your 20th year doing this. The only thing experience gives you is a little grace that whispers in your ear, you've been in the dark before, you know your way through. Stay in the dark.
It's gonna be okay.
It's gonna be okay. And so when you say you know, the two of you have some success now, the difference I think in probably what you feel when the gremlins are saying you're not enough, who do you think you are? And the gremlins are saying it to me and I would venture to say maybe you...
is I know that I will come out of this. That's it.
That's another tool in the toolkit of we've referenced the internet several times. We should probably go to the actually internet and get some questions 'cause there's people from Texas and--literally there were people from Africa, from England, from Ireland, from Switzerland, just in the questions before the show even started, from all over the universe, talking about this. So Nassa, you got a couple of question from the universe to ask us? To ask Dr. Brene?
So I got one from Daniel Vuong and he wants to know I struggle at the failing test, it's in my opinion a fear of failing. What should I do about that?
Fear of failing, is pretty natural, man. This is your show, take it away. Fear of failing.
Yeah, I mean, I think the best thing I can tell him, the best thing I can tell myself is you're going to fail. Like the only people who don't fail are people who never put anything out into the world. There are a million cheap seats in the arena today, people who will never, ever, step foot. They'll never fail.
I have cut and pasted that quote and sent it to people on the internet. Like, oh yeah, sorry, you're not in the arena, I'm not actually interested in hearing your feedback. I try not to do that, 'cause that's not... Don't engage trolls. But that's the point, again, if you're just now joining us from anywhere around the world, I'm sitting with Brene Brown and we're talking about Rising Strong. She's giving us the very wise advice that if you are actually putting yourself out there, it's not mitigating failure. You will fail, and you will be face down in the mud, as you say, and you have to actually get back up. And you're giving us tools to get back up.
So let me give you this tool for failure, there's the two most important seats in the arena. And let me tell ya', the arena for me, the hardest arena in my life, not the books, not the TED Talks, not my work, for sure, my marriage, parenting, those are hard. The two most important seats in the arena, self-compassion and empathy. Have one person in your life, you don't need a whole crew, one person in your life who when you fail, not if you fail, will pick you back up and dust you off and look at you and won't bullshit you, and will say, that sucked as bad as you thought it did. (audience laughing)
Your knees are all dirty.
That spill was as hard to watch, as it was to do. But you know what? I'm pushing you back in because you're being brave. So you gotta have one or two people who will rally around and then just the expectation, like, it's gonna happen, we're gonna fail.
So true. Next question. One more from the internet if you've got one there, Nassa.
Yeah, it's Tony Sully and he wants to know when you've been saying mean things to yourself all your life, how do you switch and start saying kind things?
Is it a switch that you can flip or are we taking the not three-step process?
You know, it's really, if you really, if that's your self-talk, which we all have it, if that's your self-talk sometimes, the gremlins, I think even more than Rising Strong would be Daring Greatly or the Gifts of Imperfection, about really talking about shame and self-talk. For me, I have a big thing at my desk over where I work and write that says talk to yourself like you'd talk to someone you love. And that is really hard. So the best story I can give you is... I sent a really horrible email. I thought I forwarded... I got a really mean email from someone that just was horrible, like you suck, you're not wholehearted, 'cause I'd turned down an event with this person. And I was like, I forwarded it to Steve with a little note like, this guy's a total... (Chase whistles) (audience laughing) I mean yeah, every word you can think of. There were four or five of them hyphenated. (audience laughing) and I actually hit reply instead of forward.
Where's the mic so you can drop it.
And I looked up and I was just getting ready to berate myself for doing it, and I saw that sign. And it says talk to yourself like you'd talk to someone you love.
And then you went, high-five self.
Yeah, way to go! No, and I thought what would I say to my 16-year-old daughter, who is emailing for the first time, a lot now, and she's gonna make this mistake, right? And I would say, look, if you email enough, you're gonna do this. So let's take a deep breath, not dog down on yourself, figure out how to clean it up and make amends, and that's what I did. So I think we have to get clear on shame, and understand shame if that's our self-talk. And it's a practice to talk to ourselves in a way that we would talk to people we respect.
I'm gonna take us back in time to the last time you were on the show, and we had a great conversation. This is gonna be awesome, actually.
So, you're talking about being judged and shamed, and oh, bless your heart, is a thing that when people are judging you, in the South, say...
Texas, like well you want to give a little color on the bless your heart, and then I'll...
Yeah, no I remember exactly what I said, because talk about something that went wild on Twitter. So I was saying that in Texas it's a very passive-aggressive way to judge people, is to say, oh she thinks she looks so cute in that outfit, bless her heart. (audience laughing) And it's like a way of saying, like, I'm judging you and God is on my side. Like, even God is against you. And so I made the comment on this show that I will never be able to live down, that one day I'm gonna get a t-shirt made that said if you bless my heart, I will punch your face. (audience laughing)
I will kick your ass.
I will kick your ass, is that what it was? Yes, even when I was tweeting yesterday about coming, people were coming up to me, only if you wear the bless your heart t-shirt on there.
Well, I will say that an artist who works here at Creative Live named Marcos, when he heard that statement, whenever, a year-and-a-half ago, he designed this actual thing, which does say if you bless my heart, I'm gonna kick your ass.
Oh my God.
And so we're having t-shirts made. (Brene laughs)
That is awesome.
So shout out to Marcos, thank you very much, man.
Marcos. Oh my God. That, I don't know what happened with that.
Let's get a shot of that one, that's pretty good right there.
'Cause let me tell you something, this is great, going back to that question that just came from the internet, what is the opposite of shame? What is the antidote to shame? It's empathy. Empathy. So if you call me and you say God, Brene, you're not gonna believe what happened at work, I'm in such a shame spiral. And I listen to you and I respond empathically like oh, dude, I know what that feels like, like you're completely alone in this and there's no way out. And you're like yes! Shame can't hold on. But there's a huge difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is feeling with someone, like, oh, dude, I get it. I've been there, you're not alone. Sympathy is, aw, you poor thing, I'm so sorry, that must suck to be you, I'm really...yeah. I think that bless your heart thing is a really sympathetic, like sympathy, I feel bad for you while I'm happy I'm not you. Do you know what I mean?
It's weird that sympathy like culturally and contextually is, oh, I have so much sympathy for that person, which is like oh, sucks to be you. That's not, like--you need to sit with someone in the dark and just hold onto their hand and just, I'm with you.
That's it. I'm with you. The two most powerful words when someone's in shame or in pain: Me, too. I get it, you're not alone. Shame hates it, it can't hold on.
Well thank you for that, we'll figure out what kind of t-shirts are the right ones to make so that you'll actually wear them, 'cause I can't wait to see you in that t-shirt, it's gonna be awesome.
I'll totally wear that t-shirt.
So we're gonna go back to the internet for one more question, then we're gonna go to the in-studio audience, but we've got about 15 minutes left, so please, Nassa, one more question from the World Wide Web.
All right, so Kieran Liggins. What's up Chase and Brene, tips on idea expansion and getting the best out of idea sessions?
The best idea sessions. Boy that says something like brainstorming, how do you turn off the criticism voice, something like that.
Well, I immediately go to Ed Catmull, the CEO of Pixar, and his whole idea of a brain trust, and how if you can put together... Ideas are really fragile things. And in order for--like with my team, if we're in an idea session, we really have to set a safe container before that starts. Even though they're people we know and we trust, we have to, we usually start with a check in, about what do we need to rumble. It's a word from the Rising Strong process, rumbling with a story. What do you need to rumble today? Meaning, what do you need to speak your truth and say what's on your mind? And then we do permission slips, so we use post-it notes, and everyone writes themselves permission for the meeting, and then we go around the table and share our permission slip. So like a permission slip for me might be I give myself permission to feel tender today and to listen more than I talk. And Chase might say, I give myself permission to be honest today. And then we just check in with each other because this container building is a term that they use a lot in mental health. But what I've learned from working with a lot of leaders in organizations and with my own team, is you have to build a container.
Yeah, there's a lot of assumption that exists, especially in the creative world like, oh yeah, we're creatives, we can take it. We're tough, let's get to work, people.
Yeah, but build it. It's five minutes to go around the room with eight of us and say what do you need from us today, and what are you giving yourself permission to do today in this meeting? And then you know where everyone is, and so I say the best ideas can only be born with very trusting midwives.
That's powerful. The notion of safety, can you talk about safety and trust? You talked about trust a fair bit in the book, and we talk at Creative Live about trust and accountability on our team, or if you make a sports analogy, you pass the ball, right, you're expecting someone gonna be there. You're trusting that that's gonna happen. Accountability is like you either were there or you weren't there. I'm gonna do my best to be there every time, and if I can't I'm gonna let you know. Talk about trust through the lens of Rising Strong.
So trust really emerged as a huge construct in this work, and so I was very interested. I came across this work by Charles Feltman, who talked about, he gave this definition of trust that I love. Are you all ready for this? Don't attribute it to me if you're on the web, it's Feltman, like felt and then man. But his definition of trust is great. It says I'm choosing to make something important to me vulnerable to your actions. I'm choosing to take something important to me and make it vulnerable to your actions. That's trust, right? And so he talks a little bit about the importance of understanding what trust is, 'cause if I looked at you and we worked together and I said, dude, I don't trust you on this. That's a big word, and that's a heavy thing. And so I went in asking this question, what is trust? What do we talk about when we talk about trust? And so I went through all the way back, 13 years through the data with my team, looking through what do people talk about when they talk about trust? And I put together all the concepts, and I looked at them and I was able to put them into an acronym that really helps me, and it's braving. B-R-A-V-I-N-G, braving. And so what trust is, and you nailed it, talking about your team, we trust people with whom we have boundaries, there's reliability, you say what you're gonna do, you do what you say you're going to do, accountability, the vault, meaning what I share with you, and this is crazy about the vault, this is what people don't get about trust and confidentiality. I trust you if I share something with you and you don't share it with other people, right, 'cause we're in the vault. But let me tell you what else the vault is, and this is where people screw up trust all the time, but if you and I sit down, and you're like oh my God, did you hear what's going on with Kate? You're not betraying me, but the fact that you're betraying someone else to me changes my trust level with you. Does that make sense? But we don't ever think about that because what we do is we actually try to gain trust by sharing secrets with each other about other people.
That's so messed up.
Right, so the vault. Meaning, you don't share what I share with you, and you don't share with me that which is not yours to share. I, integrity, which is a huge thing in trust. I have a very simple definition, in my opinion, for integrity. It is choosing courage over comfort, it is choosing what's right over what's fun, fast or easy, and practicing your values, not just professing them. So that, to me, is integrity. N is non-judgment. I trust you if we can be in a relationship where we can both fall down, ask for help and screw up, and not judge each other, and the last is generosity. I trust you if when I make a mistake, you make the most generous assumption about it first, and check it out with me.
Do not ascribe to malice that which can be ascribed to ineptitude or...
Yes, exactly, the hypothesis of generosity. What's the most generous assumption I can make about this person's words, actions or behaviors? So if you think about, and the reason why I think it's helpful to break trust down into concepts is then if you want to sit down and I work for you and you're really having some struggles with me, you don't have to sit down and say Brene, look, we've got some trust issues. You can say, Brene we have some reliability issues that's affecting our trust level. Now I don't have this big, gauzy thing that I can't fix. There's something very specific I can work on, while we can acknowledge the other stuff is doing really well.
You should be a professional. (audience laughing)
I'm gonna try it one day.
I'm glad we're recording this, 'cause I'm gonna play that back over, there's so many--you've given us so many nuggets. I heard something and I'm trying to remember where I heard it and I'm not gonna get it right now, so I won't burn the time, but it was like look at everybody else as if you were their mother. There's something that's really sympathetic--no empathetic-- I almost said it, was that a cultural slip right there.
Yeah, when someone cuts you off and you're driving you can either look at them and have the whole list of adjectives we want to say to that person, they are probably late to help someone who needs help right now, or there's something, a great story, like oh there goes Ricky, he's gonna help out Sally, as opposed to the thing that we normally say. Is that a good tool or is that a crutch? Is that fair for me to think like that?
No, it is a life changer. It is the part of the research, chapter six, that I was so pissed off writing it. It's part of the research for me that I find the hardest to do that. I am not--I think it's really hard. Yeah, I wish we had time, we would do the exercise. But we don't.
How much time does the exercise take? Do it.
Should we do it?
Of course. Come on, we have time.
All right, here's what I want you to do, do you believe in general that people are doing the best they can? Eh. (audience laughing) Right okay. So people are mixed on this. Okay so here's what I want you to do. I want you to think of someone in your life that you have a lot of judgment around, like this person just--you are just--- everyone's like, we got it. You already got your person? (audience laughing) You got your person? So here's my question for you. What if I came down from on high, whatever being or thing you believe in, the universe, nature, God, whatever. And I said that person you're thinking of right now, I looked you right in the eye and said, that person is absolutely doing the very best he or she can do. Tell me what's behind the face you're making right now.
Well, total empathy, totally shifted my view.
In a quarter of a second.
Feel very sensitive about it, emotional.
Feeling tender, right?
I totally get that. Thanks for being brave and sharing that. Who else is feeling something? Yeah.
I immediately turn around and say well they're clearly doing the best they can, then I'm shit. And it comes back and all of that animosity I direct at myself.
Okay if they're doing the best they can then I'm an asshole. That would be my first response, too. So one of the things that happened in this research, is this question emerged, are people doing the best they can? And of course, my answer was hell no. (audience laughing) Oh my God, hell no, they're not doing the best they can?
When everyone was like yes, I was like heck no. (audience laughing)
Right, and so here's the thing, are people doing their--and I was like no, no, no, they're not doing the best they can. And so my therapist really pushed me on this. And so I was like, when I'm pushed in something in therapy, I usually open up a research study on it to disprove my therapist. (audience laughing) So I started asking, interviewing hundreds of people, like asking, do you believe people are doing the best they can? And so we don't know the answer, there's no research answer, there's no definitive answer. But my husband was like so brilliant, so I said do you think people are doing the best they can? And this was after probably like 50 interviews where it was completely saturated. Well here's what I was learning, the people who said, oh, hell no! Were absolutely the people who were hardest on themselves, struggle with perfectionism. And the people who said yeah, I think in general, people are, were much kinder to themselves and much more fell into the wholehearted category. And so my husband's like thinking about it, and he's a pediatrician, so he sees the worst in people and the best in people. And his answer was so profound. He said I'm not sure whether they are or not, but when I move through the world assuming they are, it makes my life better. And so what I came to the conclusion of, and so I call it living big in the book, because people who assume normally that they're not are people who usually lack boundaries, like myself. Because I'm constantly pissed off, wondering why you're doing all these dumb things. Are you trying to aggravate me on purpose? Why don't you make better choices? Why are you putting all of us through...you know. But the question becomes this. Think about your person. You got your person in your mind? What boundaries need to be in place for you so you can stay in your integrity and extend the most generous assumption about this person? What boundaries do you need to put in place to stay in your integrity and be generous towards this person? So for me, it would mean if that person's really doing the best they can, and I want to be generous, I need to put some boundaries around my relationship with this person and say I gotta stop trying to fix you and help you out, in return for an unspoken condition that I'm putting on our relationship. Does that make sense? Like I did this with a group of priests and deacons in the Episcopal church. And I asked everyone in the room to think of someone, and this couple who were both deacons in West Texas, very tough, rural, they both thought of the same person. And when I said what boundaries need to be in place, I said why does this person bring up so much judgment? And they said we keep bringing money and diapers and formula and they have six kids and they live in this trailer without electricity, and he sells the diapers and the formula sometimes for money to gamble, and they were just like, we can't stay out of judgment with this person. And I said, so what boundaries would need to be in place for you to stay in your integrity and be generous toward this person? And they both, they were a couple, and they just started crying. And they said either bring stuff or leave it with grace, or stop helping. But the thing that's not working is we just keep going and judging. Does that make sense? And so I think that ascription quote...
Do not ascribe to malice what could be otherwise explained by incompetence or any other...
1,000 things, right? And so for me it's always what boundaries need to be in place so I can be in my integrity and be generous toward other people? And it has made me very fierce with my boundaries. Things like I really care about you, I like you, I love being neighbors, but you can't drink as much as you normally drink when you come over to our Christmas party, 'cause it's uncomfortable for me and my family and the kids that are at the party. Like, who's saying that? Because what I'm better at doing is not saying anything, not setting any boundaries, and then talking bad about you later, right?
Yeah, and then you're taking that badness and you're passing it on in the trust vault to somebody else and you're eroding that relationship that you have. It's sort of like a bad set of dominoes.
It's a bad set of dominoes. And it's exhausting. So I think whenever I'm wondering why everyone's trying to piss me off on purpose, I go back to the living big, right? Yeah.
We're gonna have one more question from the in-studio audience. We're gonna go to you right here, you've been visibly and vocally excited about a lot of stuff throughout the show, which has been really fun, so...
First, thank you, I'm a super fan, saw you at UCLA on Saturday, we'll be a the book thing tonight with my wife, who's not here, who's watching. So she probably wants me to say something. So this is my question from a friend who's also watching. What happens when people we love and value most don't know how to adapt when we start living more wholeheartedly, and she said to say asking for a friend, and that's Victoria. She knows who she is.
Outed. Asking for a friend. Yeah, let me tell you something, the wholeheartedness thing about living and loving with your whole heart and being authentic and showing up and being seen and being vulnerable, you're gonna shake loose some people in your life that... I think first of all, I never know how to say this without sounding like it's wrong, so maybe you can fix it for me. (audience laughing) No, try to understand what I'm saying here. I haven't come up here with it yet, exactly. I don't want to say that we're accountable for making other people understand our changes. 'Cause that sounds like enmeshment and some bad stuff.
I don't even know what you just said, but yeah.
But what I'm trying to say is if we were really good friends or you're my partner, or your my brother, and I'm really changing and trying to work on the way that I live, you gotta understand that's gonna be scary for the people who care about you. And to say to them, at least, you're not accountable for bringing them along, but if you're invested in a relationship, to look at that person and say here's what I'm trying to change and why. And here's this crazy TED Talk of this interview with Chase and this person, or here's what's speaking to me right now and what I'm trying to do in my life, and I want to share what I'm thinking with you, because our relationship and you matter to me. So you're not accountable or responsible for changing people along with you, because that's a non-starter, but you are... It's like when I was getting my master's degree in social work and I was taking Women's Theory, and Feminist Practice and all these things, and I would come home and Steve would say, hey, do you want to go to the movies, babe? And I'm like don't call me babe. (audience laughing) And he's like, what do you mean? I'm like just don't call me babe, it's super oppressive and I don't appreciate you--and you know what, in fact, in general I think your behavior... And he would almost be in tears and he's like what's happening? Because I didn't say man I'm in these classes and I've come to this new understanding about gender and internalized oppression, and how I value... I just punished him for not knowing and changing with me. But I think the thing is that when we really feel comfortable with our growth, we can understand how that can really freak people out sometimes. Does that make sense?
Yeah, it's beautiful, and I feel like that's what you have done so well, if you haven't actually answered everyone's questions, which I think you've done an amazing job, but all the stuff about vulnerability, trust, shame, you've opened the conversation in a way that our culture hadn't had it open before.
Thank you. I hope so. I want to.
Like no other. That is so powerful. That's powerful medicine. I already have three copies of your book, one on my iPad, one on Kate's and a physical one. If you're at home and you don't have this book yet, please pick it up. I don't want to just--your book has sold itself, it's already at number one, so there's nowhere for it to go, (audience laughing) from a cultural standpoint, you've really changed the dialog. You've moved it in a direction that it was hidden under the cloak of fear. I grew up, my entire childhood was around something, I felt... It's hindsight, I had a great middle class upbringing, like I have nothing to complain about, but when I think of all the stories that I told myself and the actions that I took, so much of it was bathed in fear and darkness and not a conversation about the conversation that you've started around all these things. So thank you very, very much. (audience applauds)
And thanks, you know, I'm excited about this conversation, I really want to be a part of it, but I don't want--a conversation is something between people, and so without people like you giving me a place to come and talk about it,
We are happy to provide that.
but really I'm grateful for that, because that's hard when you have something you really believe in and you're passionate about it, but you can't do that without people. A conversation is between people, so thank you.
You're welcome, but it's very, very easy to give someone a gift who you feel like has given you so much. Me personally for sure, but so many people. Again, we've mentioned it several times throughout the show, I feel kin to the creative spirits that participate in Creative Live and pay attention to my work and the work of my peers, and I know that there's so much goodness that's absent because of some of the problems that you are uncovering and bringing out into the open, and we owe you a huge debt of gratitude. I gotta wrap the show up right now. Thank you so much from Creative Live. (audience applauds) Big, big, big applause for Brene. Signing off, we'll be back next time, stay with us. We love you, goodbye internet. (audience applauds) (upbeat music)