Apr 20

Boundaries: Brene Brown’s Newest Focus

I assumed that people weren’t doing their best so I judged them and constantly fought being disappointed, which was easier than setting boundaries. Boundaries are hard when you want to be liked and when you are a pleaser hellbent on being easy, fun, and flexible. Brené Brown, Rising Strong

Brené Brown defines boundaries in Rising Strong (2015) as “simply our lists of what’s okay and what’s not okay.” More of her explanation:

It’s so straightforward and it makes sense for all ages in all situations. When we combine the courage to make clear what works for us and what doesn’t with the compassion to assume people are doing their best, our lives change. Yes, there will be people who violate our boundaries, and this will require that we continue to hold those people accountable. But when we’re living in our integrity, we’re strengthened by the self-respect that comes from the honoring of our boundaries, rather than being flattened by disappointment and resentment.

On the other hand, “When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. This is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice” (The Gifts of Imperfection).

Another pertinent quote from Rising Strong: “Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.”

If you’d like to know more about how to set boundaries, Brown gives three useful tips on Oprah.com (all directly quoted):

Make a mantra. I need something to hold on to—literally—during those awkward moments when an ask hangs in the air. So I bought a silver ring that I spin while silently repeating, “Choose discomfort over resentment.” My mantra reminds me that I’m making a choice that’s critical for my well-being—even if it’s not easy.

Keep a resentment journal. Whenever I’m marching around muttering cuss words under my breath, I grab what I lovingly refer to as my Damn It! Diary and write down what’s going on. I’ve noticed that I’m most resentful when I’m tired and overwhelmed—i.e., not setting boundaries.

Rehearse. I’ll often say, to no one in particular, “I can’t take that on” or “My plate is full.” Like many worthwhile endeavors, boundary setting is a practice.

Lindsay Holmes (Huffington Post) recently asked psychologist Chad Buck to list the benefits of improving your boundary-setting. His responses are as follows:

1. You’re more self-aware.
2. You become a better friend and partner.
3. You take better care of yourself.
4. You’re less stressed.
5. You’re a better communicator.
6. You start trusting people more.
7. You’re less angry.
8. You learn how to say “no.”
9. You end up doing things you actually want to do.
10. You become a more understanding person.

Dec 30

“Rise Up”: A Year to “Rise and Fall” and “Rise Again”

Currently a top self-help best-seller is Brené Brown‘s 2015 book Rising Strong“investigative reporting on the common denominators of people who whole-heartedly get back up and go another round after getting their asses handed to them in big and small ways” (from the Amazon.com Review). (See previous post.) In other words, they rise up again and again.

Significantly, rising and falling has also been a current theme in the realm of music. The lyrics of such songs as Andra Day‘s “Rise Up,” Lira‘s “Rise Again,” and “Wait For It” from Broadway’s Hamilton share this common spirit.

I. “Wait For It”

2015 was the year of the smash-Broadway-musical-you-can’t-get-tickets-for Hamilton. Probably its most popular song is “Wait For It,” sung by Leslie Odom, Jr. (as Aaron Burr) as well as other cast members. The following excerpt includes the important theme of rising, falling, and persevering:

Life doesn’t discriminate
between the sinners and the saints
it takes and it takes and it takes
and we keep living anyway,
we rise and we fall and we break
and we make our mistakes
and if there’s a reason
I’m still alive
when so many have died,
then I’m willing’ to–

Wait for it…

Whereas the life approach of Alexander Hamilton (per the musical) is to be a dynamic go-getter, that of Burr includes the patience demonstrated in these lyrics.

You can hear the whole song below:

II. “Rise Up”

This was also the year that singer Andra Day was discovered. Although her whole album, Cheers to the Fall, was phenomenal, the uplifting track “Rise Up” is the one that most often has made it live onto telecasts as diverse as CNN’s Heroes Tribute, the BET Awards, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and various talk shows.

The opening lyrics:

You’re broken down and tired
Of living life on a merry-go-round
And you can’t find the fighter
But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out
And move mountains
We gonna walk it out
And move mountains

Below Day sings it:

III. “Rise Again”

Lira is a South African singer/songwriter whose “Rise Again” is one of the best tracks on her album of the same name. Although it came out in 2014, it’s still not so well known in the U.S.—but should be.

Sample lyrics:

At times, I feel so lost and disoriented
My life has not worked out the way I planned
Thought I was smart enough myself anywhere
But I made a few bad choices along the way
Still I rise again…
At times, I felt so lost, my dreams fade from me
A trouble I can’t seem to understand
Have I lost the true meaning of life my friend?
Maybe we fall so we can watch ourselves
Begin to rise again (Yes, we rise again)

Lira’s performance of “Rise Again”: