OPRAH’S SUPER SOUL CONVERSATIONS – Episode 17 July 2018

A couple things. First, it was Jono’s birthday recently. For MONDAY MOTHERHOOD MATTERS, I want to share what I posted on FaceBook for Jono’s birthday. Second, writing my post yesterday, I found my thoughts were directed to my DAY #25 post, over and over again. Can I take the last half of today’s post to review what we learned about relationships from Brene Brown? Really really important information.

Okay, first, my FaceBook post:

It does something to my heart to witness my children knowing and going where they belong. They come to my car, after a long day at school; they come to my bed when they are scared; they never wonder where they belong at church, we save a place for each other at our pew; and on the beach, when the crowds get too thick, they seek out my umbrella, and they run to where I’m sitting in the sand, because they know, in this world, that’s where they belong. And when I see their faces searching for me, then light up with confidence and with joy at finding me, my heart fills up – fuller than I knew was possible.

Jono turned 11 a few weeks back. I spent some time reading through the journal I’ve kept for him over the years. One of my favorite entries is from when he was 2 years old:

“When Jono saw me waiting for him at the playground, he ran to me, open arms, grunting with every step, ‘hug hug hug hug hug’.”

Every night Bryant and I tell the children, in their beds or just before, “We need you in our family, you belong with us.” Happy Birthday, Jono. You belong with us.

_________________________

Let’s talk about difficult relationships. Sometimes I think, if I don’t do anything, “time will heal all wounds”. And time helps, for sure, in some situations especially. But let’s take responsibility for some things, right? Let’s do “our part”.

And the large majority of “our part” happens right in our own minds.

We tell ourselves dangerous stories about someone’s behavior or about a situation, or about whatever we are struggling with. That’s on us – that is “our part” of the problem, right?

“We are hard-wired to make sense of hurt, as fast as we can. And if we can come up with a story that makes sense of it, our brain chemically rewards us for that story. Whether it is accurate or not… We all do it.”

When you are struggling, the stories you make up about the struggle need to be REALLY tested.

An example:

When we were living in London, I was large and pregnant with Matthew when a dear friend came to stay with us. I was incredibly uncomfortable in pregnancy, but I also really wanted to take her to the tourist sites. And when we got to St Paul’s Cathedral, three children in tow, we sat down on the grass along side the cathedral, for a rest. Blessed relief.

Then my son, 4 years old at the time, came to me, his little legs dancing. “I need to use the loo.”

There are few public toilets in London, and none that I knew of in that neighborhood. Remember: I was big and pregnant and he had a small bladder. So I told him to go on the bush, aside the cathedral.

The look my friend gave me could have killed a cow. I immediately made up a story in my mind. She thinks I am a bad mom. I knew she was only ever disappointed by me. Etc etc.

“And then all the sudden I am working up a whole narrative. (And then) how I treated (her) the next time I saw (her) was off that narrative. It just keeps going and going.”

How do we stop this from going and going – these narratives, these dangerous stories?

Brene offers a practice that helps us from continuing in this thought loop – these stories:

RECKONING –> RUMBLE –> REVOLUTION

And let’s use my story above to better understand.

RECKONING:

I have to acknowledge a button has been pushed – something emotional happened inside of me when she looked at me in that way.

“Get curious about what that is, instead of immediately going to a crazy story. ‘I don’t know what just happened, but I am feeling stressed out about it, and I need to find out more. I am willing to get curious about that emotion and look into it.’”

Brene Brown calls that first crazy story we make up an “SFD”, or Stupid First Draft. Only, she didn’t use the word, stupid. Ha ha!

We make these SFDs up for survival. The minute we have a threat, our brain says, give me a story that tells me who is safe who is dangerous. We make up that story – good guys, bad guys, the whole thing. We are trying to make sense of things too quickly.

“Everything about who we are and what we need to work on lives in that SFD.”

RUMBLE:

“Let’s toss this thing around, poke it, get really curious. I need to start asking myself, what do I really know?”

A story with limited factual data points that we fill in with our own ideas and beliefs is a conspiracy. Her words. And that conspiracy – any conspiracy – is dangerous. And we are doing it to ourselves all the time.

Challenge those things! Rumble with the story – those thoughts.

  • What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation
  • What more do I need to learn and understand about the other people in the situation
  • What more do I need to learn and understand about myself

“We need to get the story to serve us well, because it will dictate how we move forward.”

REVOLUTION:

“Revolution is simply when this process becomes practice… you can’t go back.”

I love this. Brene Brown closes with a one-item list of what “risers” have in common: The willingness to be uncomfortable and feel their way through emotion. And some days I am all in – some days I can do this, and in some situations. But I think getting there, being willing to be uncomfortable and feel my way through these negative emotions, is a process. And I want to be gentle and patient with myself, and with others in that same process.