Documenting my life

Tag: brene-brown

How to deal with criticism Bravery and the Man in the Arena

I came across this quote from Theodore Roosevelt in Daring Greatly by Brené Brown, a book I highly recommend. The quote touches on others’ judgement, criticism, self-worth and expecting and preparing for hardships.

It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbled or how the doer of deeds might have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred with sweat and dust and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, if he wins, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt

There are three key messages in this text, which I will detail below.

Pick whose opinion you value

This is something to keep in mind when trying something new, taking up a new project or putting yourself out there. Especially if you are worried of others’ opinions and judgement or people criticise you. Ask yourself who the negative comments are coming from. Is it someone who is in the arena? Are they as courageous as you, or do the not have any first hand experience? It’s important to consider all feedback if it is constructive, but usually the unnecessary and unwelcome comments that are not helpful come from folks who do not have more or, at least, equal experience or knowledge as you. In this case, their opinion doesn’t really count.

It will be tough, be prepared

The second takeaway is the acknowledgement that being in the arena will lead to sweat, dust and blood and you will probably come short, i. e. have setbacks multiple times. If we expect messiness, hardships and fatigue, we can prepare ourselves and try to put some strategies in place to pick ourselves back up. If we don’t know this is to be expected, we might find ourselves doubting our capability and wondering if we should give up 

Know your worth

Closely linked to both points above is the fact that you need to be strong in the knowledge of your abilities and resilience to be able to ignore criticism that is sterile. You must also be willing to fight and spend a lot of time and energy into the project you are tackling, which is easier to do if you have faith in yourself and your capacity to overcome issues.

I have found the image of the man in the aren useful in multiple occasions and hope it can be helpful to you too

Atlas of the Heart by Brené Brown book review

In this post, you can find my notes and a personal review of Atlas of the Heart, Brené Brown’s new book.

Who is it for?

I would recommend this book to anyone curious about emotions and who wants to learn more. Particularly about when/how they can arise, what they can tell us, and what are the subtle differences between similar ones.

It’s especially interesting for those who spend a lot of time with others, to have a clearer understanding of different experiences and emotions. This will improve their ability to connect more effectively.

Book structure and style

Atlas of the Heart reads like a dictionary or an encyclopedia, so you can jump from one section to another, or skip something entirely.

Each section describes emotions related to a specific scenario, in the form of “Places we go when…”. It’s very practical to skim through and look for what you need.
It is nice to read about many different examples, both from the author’s personal experience and from the years of research she has collated. 

The final chapters discuss cultivating meaningful connection and gratitude.

Brené Brown’s writing style is clearly recognizable, despite this book being similar to a consultation manual. She is often encouraging, especially when describing an unpleasant emotion.

Personal experience

I paused reading the book on multiple occasions, to reflect on my own experience and take notes. This helped me to better take in the messages shared. I will also be able to go back to them and revisit specific paragraphs that resonated.

After reading Atlas of the Heart, I went back to it again, when I was trying to process and uncover what I was feeling. It was useful to dig deeper and it was nice to feel validated and read about others’ experiences.

I will definitely go back to this book multiple times – I am positive it will become a pillar book to reference.

Key takeaways

Brené Brown points out a few things in her new book that stood out to me:

  • The difference between envy and jealousy: “Envy occurs when we want something that another person has. Jealousy is when we fear losing a relationship or a valued part of a relationship that we already have”
  • Expectations: we need to make them explicit within ourselves and other people involved. This is something that feels scary, but will strenghen the connection, help set boundaries and feeling less hurt in the future
  • I discovered the definition of freudenfreude: being happy for someone else’s success. It’s something to look for and treasure any relationship. It can be nice to be more open and celebrate more often, even the small things

Notes and personal thoughts on expectations
Managing and setting expectations is something especially important to remember. It’s easy to assume others “will know” what our expectations are, when in fact they might not be clear at all – sometimes they could be quite different!

It can also help in setting boundaries and having well defined limits as well as key milestones in place.

It’s also key to remember to ask for others’ expectations. Aim to have a clear picture of when they will consider something to be completed or what the final outcome should be. It’s critical in a work environment, but it is useful in other areas as well.

Interestingly, it’s also key to be aware of our own personal expectations for projects or tasks. We want to ensure that they are reasonable and doable. This means we are not setting ourselves up for disappointment or failure, with unrealistic outcomes in mind.

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On being a beginner – advice by Brené Brown

I recently started a new project, which uses a tool I have never used before. It was interesting to notice how I deal with new things, learning to do something for the first time, and how I respond to challenges and roadblocks.

I am usually a very determined person and I have a growth mindset, i.e. I believe things can be improved and I can learn and change my behaviour.

However, I found myself struggling when I felt like I didn’t have a clear path ahead of me.

This is what I did:

  • I reminded myself of other times when I was a beginner and how I was actually praised on multiple occasions for being a fast learner
  • I took a step back and defined the steps I needed to take. This includes searching for information and educating myself online
  • I identified two people I could reach out to and ask questions to

Having a plan is useful because it means you know what you need to do. Any task can be broken down into small and relatively easy steps, so you should not feel overwhelmed.

In the moment it can feel like something is really tough and difficult to manage, but it’s key to remind ourselves that starting something new means the initial learning curve will be steep and that this is normal.

This situation and the frustration I felt reminded me of a podcast episode by Brené Brown, in which she discusses the topic and calls this type of situation an FFT, i.e. a F****** First Time.

Brené Brown is a research and expert on vulnerability. She defines it as uncertainty, risk, emotional exposure. Being new at something is the epitomy of vulnerability. The only way to get to the other side is to push through.

New is hard and we don’t like the discomfort. […] Sometimes we get so afraid of the vulnerability that we actually stop trying or doing anything that we’re not already good at doing.

When we just give up being new and awkward, we stop growing. And we stop growing, we stop living.

The more we’re willing to embrace the suck, and try new things, the more new things we’re willing to try.

And it’s not because being new gets comfortable, it’s because we learn how to normalize discomfort.

Knowing we have the strenght to survive those [though] moments […] is how we get braver.

She advises to do the following:

Name it and understand it. Recognize you are in an FFT. Discuss the situation with someone you are close with and acknowledge your feelings of disappointment and fear. “When we name and own hard things it gives us power, to effect change and achieve purpose

Naming your FFT allows you to do these three things:

  • Normalize the situation. Knowing this is exaclty what it’s supposed to feel like, it’s something that we haven’t done before. We don’t have previous experience to draw on, so it will be difficult and scary.
  • Put it into perspective. It will feel like it’s ok to struggle, since you are doing something new and that’s just how it is. The important thing is to know it will get better with practice and that some time in the future we will look back and think of how much progress we have made.
  • Reality Check expectations. With yourself and others. I am generally quite optimistic and tend to underestimate the time and effort required to do something. And actually, when you are doing something new, there is no way of knowing how much time it will take you to complete a task, of course. And since we might be very good in similar aspects of our lives, we tend to underestimate the effort for something new. Know that it will take time, that you will do many mistakes. Ask questions if you can, take notes and try and not repeat the same errors. Remind yourself that it’s normal for this to take a lot of time and that you will feel stuck multiple times

It’s very encouraging to think about this and to know that although being a beginner is tough, it’s the best way to learn and improve and that I will make progress and the discomfort will end.

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