doing vs feeling

Rising Strong square

I have a confession to make. While I love Brené Brown’s books, and her insights, I have never yet finished one of her books.


Because it gets too hard. Because she touches on a raw nerve. Because she goes too deep. Because she asks things of me that I am not completely sure I want to go through.

I know that in the end I will be a braver, more whole-hearted person. But I’m not sure I want to do the work and sift through my emotional debris to get there.

And then I said “yes”.

I said “yes” to a book club. I said “yes” to Elaine and Amanda. I said “yes” to accountability. So here I am Chapter 8 of Rising Strong and still going, and this chapter is asking a lot of me!

Because I am the classic first-born, over-functioner that Brené talks about.

Over-functioning: I won’t feel, I will do. I don’t need help, I help.

Under-functioning: I won’t function, I will fall apart. I don’t help, I need help.

I am the person who, in a crisis, wants to take control and organise everyone else. I am the person who loves to be useful, who needs to be needed, and who is not able to ask for help. I damp down my feelings with my to-do list, and my have-to’s, and my focus on others.

And then when suddenly everything stops I find myself like Brené in this chapter:

I was inconsolable … I’m sure I was making a scene, but I couldn’t stop … It was if forty years of doing instead of feeling had caught up with me.

Even with this book club, there have been so many times when I have known I need to sit down and process what I am learning. To work through issues that have come up over the course of this month. Heck, even my last post focused on writing an SFD, (which by the way I only got around to this weekend).

Instead I am numbing myself with doing, and avoiding the feeling. But this book keeps coming back and giving me an emotional smack around the head. When I read phrases like:

We’ll do anything to avoid the lowest of the low – self-examination.

Ouch! Yep that bit hurts.

That’s tender.

You got me there Brené.

Like a knowledgeable Physio or masseur, she has put her finger right on the sore spot, the pressure point that makes me wince. But the only way to ease that pain is to remember that I have to stop doing; take the time to realise that I am feeling something; put in the effort to examine and process what I am feeling and why; and to reach out to others and ask for help.

So then I think, “okay if I have to do that then I will do it on my terms in a dignified and restrained way”. But Brené won’t let me off that easily, she says it will be messy, desperate and uncivilised.


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Gee, she makes it appealing! But the one thing that lets me know that this is worth it, is this:

Connection doesn’t exist without giving and receiving. We need to give and we need to need.

What about you? We’d love you to join the conversation and hear your response to the book club question today:

What stops you from asking for help?


PS – all the previous chapter links are here. And don’t worry if you are not up-to-date with the reading, we’d still love to hear from you on previous posts. Just comment when you are ready and we will get back to you.





8 thoughts on “doing vs feeling

  1. What has stopped me from asking for help in the past? Like many of us, I think it’s a fear of appearing weak or incapable. I have always been the capable, independent, dependable and stable one. Recently, I have been on the receiving end of help, out of desperation, as my personal bag of tricks was exhausted and unable to cope with all that my life had thrown at me. To my surprise, no one thinks I’m weak or incapable, I’m just human. But I’m a strong one for continuing to turn up and rumble with my circumstances. What a wow moment.

    1. It’s so true isn’t it that often other people often don’t see as weak. It can sometimes be in all our head, and it is a real revelation when we realise that. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  2. Oh Jodie! I so get it!

    I could have written the lines about feelings catching up with me. Three funerals and three times dealing with it like an event led to three later episodes of delayed grief.

    Brene knows us so well.

    Thanks for sharing Jodie.

  3. Eldest – not always the envious place – I think I would have preferred to be the baby of the family. Not a perfect upbringing – the shouting made me hyper vigilant at times sensing danger even though it never came to that. Babysitting from 10 made me grow up way too soon and maybe that is why I just love being with 4-5 year olds so that my inner child gets to express herself. I have been a bit of a controller but as I am getting older I am finding that I can relax and take a back seat and enjoy what is happening around me. Oh the teacher in me is dangerous at public parks but my children are quick to stop me when they see the body language that speaks of correcting other peoples children …….. All these diversions to avoid what was actually happening deep inside my heart of hearts. I can ask for help!! Revelation and joy. I am not being selfish but rather attentive to my needs that were overlooked all those years as more and more babies were born ( my Mom gave birth to 15 but only 9 of us survived). It is not a sign of weakness but more a sign of being a part of the human race and admitting that the quest for perfection is only an illusion. Big sigh!

    1. Yes, being the eldest Kath … I hear you. But, oh the relief that comes with realising that asking for help is okay. Relief of tension we often didn’t know we were feeling!

  4. I have been ignoring my book all week and last night I picked it up again. The accountability of this journey is frightening.

    I am the overachiever.

    I want to race in and rescue.

    I struggle to ask for help.

    Brene you are annoying me.


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