Brené Brown talks a lot about the notion of rumbling, or wrestling with our stories. We all tell stories about our lives. I have been telling stories about my life, and most of those stories have a narrative where I own very little of the responsibility. I think wearing armour for most of my life has me making up stories to help me explain my sense of isolation, and my lack of community. I think that being a risk taker, doing it alone, not needing any help have all been part of my narrative. This narrative though is one born out of need to protect myself, and are not born out of a place of being vulnerable.

I am actually a pretty good story teller. I can hold court, so to speak, and when I get on a roll, people tend to engage. I actually believe that I can (to some extent) talk my ideas into reality, and perhaps that is true, I am actually not sure anymore. What I am learning is that these stories that we tell ourselves are often not accurate, and are instead the things we tell ourself to protect and deflect. Brown defines these protective stories as confabulations, or fictions told in earnest. So in other words, we tell ourselves lies, but actually believe our own lies, because we see them as true. I guess it is looking at my life through rose coloured glasses. Brown says

the goal of the rumble is to get honest about the stories we’re making up about our struggles, to revisit, challenge, and reality-check these narratives as we dig into topics such as boundaries, shame, blame, resentment, heartbreak, generosity, and forgiveness. Rumbling with these topics and moving from our first responses to a deeper understanding of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviours gives birth to key learnings about who we are and how we engage with others. The rumble is where wholeheartedness is cultivated and change begins.

I have been starting to look more closely at my Teflon coated life, my stories, and my bottled up emotions. To be honest, I don’t much like the squirmy process. I don’t like how it makes me feel, I don’t like the emotions and pain it is welling up. Frankly, I am not good at it; I am so much better at avoiding this stuff, not leaning into it. With that said, I know if I want to grow into a place where I can live more wholeheartedly, I need to give space for the rumble. Frankly I need to get some help with this (anyone know a good therapist) as already, it is self evident that I can’t do this on my own (ironically, that is one of the most powerful stories I tell myself, I can do it by myself). Admitting my need is a very vulnerable space for me, and it flies in the face of my narrative of being a generous person. My version of generosity is about giving, but my version rarely if ever receives.

I have lived with the narrative that it is better to give than to receive all of my life. I have lived with the narrative that we are not to let the right hand know what the left hand is doing (or in other words, you never talk about the good that you do). I think the problem with these stories that I tell, is that they inherently keep me from be honest about my own needs, my own expectations, and as a result I often live in a self made shadow of isolation and frustration. I blame others “I just am not into small talk”, or we don’t have anything to talk about, we just don’t connect. But I am learning that vulnerability is built on being curious, curious about one’s own fictional stories, and I think curious about what drives others. If looked at from that vantage point, we all have intense points of interconnection, where, if we are willing, we can practice being vulnerable, and perhaps in the process be heard, and understood just a little bit more?

To be honest, I don’t have any clarity or answers at this point, and that in itself frustrates me. So instead, I will take Dr. Brown’s advice and lean into the rumble for as long as it takes, continuing to struggle with my own made up stories, and trust that the process in and of itself will provide some reckoning..