« Unlocking Us with Brené Brown

Brené on Comparative Suffering, the 50/50 Myth, and Settling the Ball


We have collectively hit weary. This is especially true for the brave folks on the front lines of this pandemic and for the people who love and support them. And, it’s also true for all of us. In this episode, I talk about strategies for falling apart, staying connected + kind, and giving ourselves permission to feel hard things.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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I'm tired and I'm seeing tired everywhere right now, I don't think I've been on a zoom call over the past three days and I've been on four hundred and seventy five of them. I believe I don't think I've been on a zoom call over the past few days where at least one or two people didn't break down in tears. have collectively hit weary, and this is especially true for the brave folks on the front lines in the people who love and support them and its also true for all of us. We are nearing kind of and exhaustion that we need to talk about. I think it's really important. There's one thing you can count on
For me, it's to normalize when I think we need to normalize into also say whoa. This is not normal and we need to say wow. This is not normal, but I do think its import. To normalize right now. What were in the the adrenaline surge of crisis is never as long as we need it to be. But it's often long enough to get us through the immediate danger know the flood, the hurricane, the land slide the death of someone we love. You know me, any of us have lived through natural disasters and all of us have lived through personal crises and we know there's a rhythm. We know that there is a kind of the moment of crisis and everyone comes to other and were were incredibly fuelled by get. It died and how can I help, were so focused on what needs to happen next that we barely notice how normal. And by normal I mean that sacred holy place, that we are never
full for enough until it's gone, sweet, wonderful, normal life, we don't even notice during crisis that it's been ripped away slowly. The crisis part of struggle comes to an end. The waters received or our friends leave after the funeral and what we don't talk about. I think enough in the world right now, is: there is just so much mass and so much loneliness and overwhelm once the waters recede once everyone goes home after the funeral, that is, when the loss of normal swallows asshole and
you're coming to the end of our adrenaline surge, and we are standing, I think, at the gaping mouth of the end of normal and its and were feeling swallowed a little bit, and I just wanted to normalize that for every one, unfortunately, the crisis, the covered nineteen pandemic is not going to be a crisis that follows. The natural rhythm of things. Not believe. I think it is not a sprint. It's going to be a marathon and without shifting mindsets I think the fear of collapsing will become the actual collapsing. We're going to have a long run of kind of locked down and remote working and out of school and
you're going to continue being plagued by awful politics. A lack of leadership. This is going to continue for awhile, were also gonna, continue to mercifully see the best in peace We need a new mine shift. We need a way to think about this right now that moves us out of crisis in adrenaline, fuelled thinking into something longer and enough for me The metaphor that comes out is settling the ball. You know Ellen play soccer for ten years, Charlie played for a couple of years. And I remember when they were little. The kids would kick the ball and who would come into another player like chest, high instead of using, thereby to settle the ball and get the ball down in front of them and be strategic about where they're going to kick necks? They would just is there a little legs you knew as high as theirs
holders and kick the ball, and then it would it would bounds and kick up and then someone would kick it again and then we- get onto the field next to us, and in that ball would go the next field, and we d just didn't know how to do it. The bounces were kept. The highballs work, act, there was no suddenly no using our bodies to bring the ball down to give ourselves time to read the field to pieces should the ball, where we need it with our feet and then to get strategic about where we want the ball to go next, we do not have infinite energy to continue to kick the ball at shoulder height right now. We're gonna need to settle the ball and. We're going to need to create new, normal and grieve the loss. Of normal at the same time, and I that's going to require focus, breath.
And moving from fear and anxiety to proactively developing a strategy with solid information and. I just want to say be very This aid is five times than this podcast, probably limit, Your news intake limit your screen time find one or two reliable sources that you trust around science and epidemiology and even within a good science and epidemiological crew. There are clear spreaders and fear monger so find the right folks. Lean and trust What you need to be strategic, but don't over, watch, Now I'm gonna share two strategies with you that I think will help. Set all the ball a little bit. The first reality
G is what we call our family gap plan, so I have to by debunking one of the worst myth in the world, and that is the myth that strong, lasting relationships are always fifty. Fifty I called bs. That is, the case? Strong lasting relationships are rarely fifty fifty because life does not work. That way. Strong, lasting relationships happen when your partner, our friend, to whoever your relationship with can pony that eighty percent, when you are down to twenty and your partner also knows that when things fall apart for her. And she only have ten percent to give you can show, with your ninety, even if it for a limited amount of time. Let me tell, where this started for us. When I first started doing a lot of speaking and traveling
I would be on the plane flying back to Houston and think I just need to crawl in bed. I just need to crawl in bed, please God let me get to the bed. Let me get to the bed and I had no idea that what was happening at home was that Steve was holding down the fort parenting, our kids running carpool cooking working full time and he was at home thinking. I just need to get in bed. I just. I cannot wait for that back door to open, so I can go get in bed.
I just need to close my eyes for just an hour. I need to get bad, so the back door would open and I would expect him to say- welcome home babe go get in bed rest. You been out there working so hard. I know it it so so much and he would expect me to say: hey out love, I'm back go get some rest. That is
Now how that shit went down, let me tell you, I would open the back door, I come in, I I say: hey, I'm just exhausted he's ache! Yeah me too, and I say oh really, and we go back and forth and it would turn into a nightmare. It was just a nightmare and it was like this may be for six months and one day, of course, the whole idea therapy taught not to talk about situations when you're in the situation, but when you're a good place to one day we were feeling close and intimate and connected- and I said we gotta do something about the backdoor fights. When I come in from out of town- and he said we do and as we start talking one of our sad, you know when you get back, I am. I think it was Stevie, so when you get back, I am at twenty percent- and I said that's problematic is like at home on at twenty percent. So from that moment on, we
started. Naming where we are. We just absolutely. I talked to him on the phone last night and I said, look I'm on the edge. I got a solid fifteen right now and he said I was at fifteen, I'm up to forty. We got a gap, fifteen four thousand and fifty five. We are forty five gap to one hundred percent relationship, one hundred percent parenting, one hundred percent you've, got a gap. So what's the family gap plan, this is where I think it is incredibly helpful. So about ten years ago, when we think about this for a second Ellen's twenty, she was probably nine or I guess it's probably a decade ago. We when we first came out
but this plan we sat down and put together a family gap plan, what happens when collectively, Stephen, I or one unit of analysis: we need a hundred percent on the twenty he's at twenty, our family, Also another another of of analysis know we're at a hundred and maybe we'll do a family check in in Ellen might say I've. We got ten right now. I've got papers and my friends are- and I are having problems and Charlie will say. I don't feel good. What's the gap plan so our gap plan when we're not at a hundred. We move into the family gap plan with complete seriousness. One sleep, a our minimum for everyone move, your body? It's where we store anxiety, not one of us, can get back to Where we need to be without moving our bodies in our family- and I believe that's true of all of us- it's we store anxiety. It's where we store grief. It's where we explore hard things number three eat. Well,
a crisis, whether it's this pandemic. Just any crisis at home and you're more normal times, prices can lead to buddy the elf eating. You nobody's forfeited groups, candy candy candy corns and syrup. That gives us some instant relief and then that Insulin, sugar, up and crash, and up and crash, Note is so hard on our emotions and our body so eat well limit the new again again on the anxiety fire, then this is where it gets again, if Ellen was ten, when we first started doing this and Charlie was for we sat down and we talked about when we having a hard time and we are not a hundred percent as a family. What do we do
to make sure everything's. Ok- and I still have these written down Here- was the family gap plan circa, twenty ten, no harsh words. No nice words with harsh faces. This is the peril of being an emotion researcher as a mom, because my kids have a lot of language and they can really use it sometimes against me, because you know I'll, never forget the first time. Charlie said. Why are you mad and I said I'm not Charlie the amusing nice words, amusing kind words and he goes you're using kind words, but you ve got a harsh face. So number one. No harsh words number two. No no nice words with harsh spaces number three. Say you're, sorry number for- and this was when I found this to do this. Podcast of it made me start crying now, I'm not going to not sure I'm going to get through it without crying now accept apologies with. Thank you
So we taught our kids from the time they were young, that real apologies require acknowledging the hurt that you have caused. Some one else And that when someone offers you a real apology for something they ve done, that they shouldn't say: that's ok, they should say thank you and my kids do that now I gotta tell you it's a little painful at times, because recently, I kind of I don't know was less than optimal with my son, I was super frustrated about something and I said I apologize. I did not show up the way I wanted to show up with you around this conversation and he looked at me and he said. Thank you. I accept your apology. My first reaction was like yeah grounded. Why do you meet you Because can you imagine, can any of us imagine our parents first of all may be apology with you know, by acknowledging the hurt and
saying? I'm sorry? I showed up that way, but two, can you imagine saying to your parent? Thank you. I accept your apology, it's perfect and it's good and it's meaningful, because it's not okay for him to say it's. Okay, it's not okay, but so that's that's number number four apologies with. Thank you and then five is puns and knock knock jokes. So again, our family get plan, no harsh words, one two, no nice words with harsh faces. Three three say you're. Sorry, for apologies- apologies with thank you not with that's and and five more and knock knock jokes jokes sit down with your family right now such an incredible opportunity for some container building. What does family gap plan. Have how can you number, how can you check with numbers, you know, if you say so, before a meal, sometimes when we do it or how can you check in ok
so settling strategy settle the ball strategy. One talk about where you are name. You have named the gap how the gap plan strategy number, two is around comparative suffering, so fearing. Scarcity are driving a lot of our thinking and feeling right now, so we all know what fear, as scarcity is a first cousin of fear born of fear is the I'm not enough. We I have enough winners, gonna, be enough! You know you can see scare they actually manifesting itself right now in the grocery store isles, its endearing greatly, I wrote dad you can tell us: is deeply in scarcity when this conversation at a cultural level revolves around. What should I, be afraid of right now, whose fault is it and so
You can see a lot of scarcity, leadership right now, a lot of fear, a lot of blaming, and so we are in deep fear and scarcity. Unfortunately, one of the things that immediately triggered when we go into fear and scarcity is comparison. Compare sin and who's got more who's got better. What are they doing? What's crazy about comparison at when its triggered by fear and scarcity? Is that even our pain, and our hurt are not immune to being assessed and ranked so without thinking we start to rank are suffering. And use it to deny or give ourselves permission to feel. I can't be disappointed my college, graduation right now, who am I be sad that you know I'm not going to be able to have this great ceremony, because there are people, sick and dying, or I be angry and afraid about being sick right now, because our people, sicker than me, I can't be scheme-
for my children, because there are homeless, kids who have nowhere to sleep tonight? Why should I be tired and angry? I have a job right now, so many people doubt I get it. I do it, I fight with it, but this is not how emotion or affect works. Emotions do not go away because as we send them a message that hey deleted. It did indeed message incoming these feelings are inappropriate and do not school or high enough on the suffering board. Please delete all feelings related to this. You are not in pain enough. Thank you. That's not the way this works the emotions that you're feeling that we feel when we deny them double down, they burrow they fester. They metastasize and not only do our feelings double down and grow
they invite shame over for the party. Because now we're like, I M a bad person, because I'm sad or scared or lonely or frustrated or disappointed or pissed off and other people have it so much worse than me. It's really dangerous and let's break down why this is dangerous. The entire myth of comparative suffering comes from the belief that empathy is finite. That empathy is like pizza. It has eight sizes. So when you practice empathy with someone or even yourself, there's last Go around so, if I'm kind in gentle and loving toward myself around
these feelings. If I give myself permission to feel them and give myself some resources and energy of care around them, I will have less to give for the people who really need them like one about their health care workers on the front line right now are the grocery shot. Folks are the hourly the people who are delivering packages when I am empathic with myself, there's less to go around because empathy is finite, false false. When we practise empathy with ourselves and others, we create more empathy, love- your is the last thing we need a rash in this world. The exhausted doctor in the e r room in New York doesn't benefit more. If you can serve your kindness only for her and withhold it from your cell for your co worker who lost her job,
surest way to ensure that you have a reserve of compassion and empathy, for others is to attend to your own feelings. Ok, let me break down how the shaman empathy thing work so first off empathy is the antidote to shame. So that's a really important piece to understand if you put shaman member petri dishes from high school If you put shame and a petri dish- and you douse it with secrecy, silence judgment stuffing it down, keeping quiet, shame grows exponentially into every corner and crevice of our lives. On the other hand, if you have shame and a petri dish in you does it with empathy, shame cannot survive empathy. Empathy is hostile environment for shame? So empathy is really an interesting emotion, because it is in other focused emotion. It draws Our attention outward toward
Other persons experience when were truly practicing empathy. Our attention is fully focused on the other person and we're trying to understand their experience. We only have thoughts of our itself in order to draw on how our experiences may help us understand what another person is going through. That's why to have empathy for someone you don't have to experience what they've experienced you just have to be able to connect in yourself to something that may lead to a similar feeling. Shame is a very egocentric self involved, emotion, it draws our focus inward or only concerned with others. When we're feeling shame is to wonder how others are. Judging us. Shame and empathy are incompatible. Inversely corps I did when we feel shame. Are inward focus overrides our ability to think about other people's experiences. We become unable to offer empathy and were incapable
processing information about that other person, unless it information specifically relates to us. So let's stop ranking suffering, there's enough love and sympathy to go around putting ourselves down because we're struggling, but have it so much better than others right now can kill our empathy for others. What's helpful is perspective. Complaining is ok, letting ourselves field. These hard emotions is important and mandatory to be empathic people, but we cannot so piss in Mon with little perspective, hurt is hurt, Ya'Ll and every time we honour our own struggle and struggles of others by responding with empathy, the healing that result affects all of us. Here's one caveat. I would share with you and it's a note
parents and teachers and people working with kids. I talked about this in our first podcast episode on F, Tease, Evan First times like our pandemic and working remotely and five thousand other things were doing right now perspective. As a function of experience Kids can feel like their worlds are ending because their world are smaller than ours. Kids, don't have experience to have full perspective. And understand the bigger picture of let's go nine, so what we can do is let them feel give them permission to feel and, more importantly, be super brave and let them see us feel and let them watch us, navigate our feelings and awkward, brave and kind ways. So final thoughts for today we have entered collective weary.
Yes, are adrenaline has done all it can do in and that's probably good cause it's hard in our bodies. Time to settle the ball, bring it down, get it between our feet. Read the field, be more thoughtful about Where were sending things next put together, a family gap plan really encourage you to see if the naming the percentage you have right now is helpful. I've been on the best of the best. The zoom calls for work this week other than on too many of them. I've seen everything from my favorite was I'll. Give you five dollars. If you get your sister the other room for the next ten minutes to someone not knowing that their meat. Not on and saying o my milk is coming in and the personally that call sane islets one. We push the meeting back thirty minutes and then this person saying why and everyone's saying we thought your cool coming in.
Get together a family gap plan and start naming where you are today. I have fifty you know. If Steve says you know I'm down to twenty, I can say right now. You know I got your eighty cover today. I think we're okay, when we can't come up with a hundred. What's the gap plan, and let's move away from comparative suffering, we don't need to rank order, hurt and anger and pain and fear right now we need to attend to it, love on it, so it dissipates and weep. Empathy in the world, you all take care of each other Love each other and I'll be back this, Rene Brown- and this is unlike in us.
Transcript generated on 2020-10-01.