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On this episode of Unlocking Us

The first Unlocking Us podcast is here! Along with the excitement of sending this into the world, I’m feeling equal doses of fear, awkwardness, and vulnerability. In this episode, I talk about my strategy for staying in tough first times versus tapping out and shutting down. When we get to the point that we only do things that we’re already good at doing, we stop growing. And truly living.

About the guest

Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, where she holds the Huffington Foundation Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work. She also holds the position of visiting professor in management at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business.

Brené has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is the author of six #1 New York Times bestsellers and is the host of two award-winning podcasts, Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead.

Brené’s books have been translated into more than 30 languages, and her titles include Atlas of the HeartDare to Lead, Braving the Wilderness, Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection. With Tarana Burke, she co-edited the bestselling anthology You Are Your Best Thing: Vulnerability, Shame Resilience, and the Black Experience.

Brené’s TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability is one of the top five most-viewed TED talks in the world, with over 60 million views. Brené is the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix, and in March 2022, she launched a new show on HBO Max that focuses on her latest book, Atlas of the Heart.

Brené spends most of her time working in organizations around the world, helping develop braver leaders and more courageous cultures.

She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband, Steve. They have two children, Ellen and Charlie, and a weird Bichon named Lucy.


Brené Brown: Hi everyone, I’m Brené Brown, and this is Unlocking Us. You can hear me, like you can hear me smiling through my talking here. This is our very first Unlocking Us podcast and I am… I’m somewhere at the intersection of like maybe scared and excited, which is an intersection that I frequent often, but you’d think it’d get easier, but it doesn’t always get easier. I think I’ve recorded three episodes, and I have to say, I love it. I want to do this for the rest of my life. As much as I love giving talks, I think I like listening even more. I love listening, I love learning, I love talking to people, and I’ve been an interviewer for 20 years, 25 years, it’s just my… It’s my thing. So welcome to the first episode of Unlocking Us. I will tell you this, and this is what we’re going to talk about FFTs today, and here’s where I’ll start. As much as I love this new podcast, what I don’t love is being new at things, and we’re going to talk about being new at things today. I think for all of us, being new at something is incredibly vulnerable. Even when we’re excited and committed and we’re like, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to try this new thing,” the awkward, uncomfortable time comes right after the excitement and it feels awful. And I can tell you if the definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure, then being new at something is the epitome of vulnerability.

BB: What’s also tricky, I think for me is, by the time you reach middle age, which I define “somewhere between late 30s and dead”, by the time you reach middle age, you know that the only way to get to the other side of the discomfort of being new is to push right through the middle. Experience teaches us that as much as we want to fast forward through the hard, rocky parts of doing something that we’ve never done before, we just can’t. And being new… Being new at big things is hard, but it’s not just life’s big moments, like new jobs or new roles or moving in with a new partner for the first time or having a baby, it’s not just the big things that are tough when it comes to being new. Little things, small daily things can also push us in really tough ways. I’ll give you an example. I have a Peloton bicycle. I’m sitting here with my sister Barrett, would you call it a bicycle, like…

Barrett Guillen: Bicycle.

BB: Are you sure?

BG: Yeah.

BB: She’s shrugging her shoulders like, “I don’t know. Don’t put me on the spot.” I don’t know, I have a Peloton bike, I’m going to say that because that sounds cooler. I have a Peloton bike, so like… For spinning classes. So, I have a Peloton bike and I was so excited to get started, and the first five times I rode it, the whole time, I had this… I have a very difficult habit that when I’m trying something new, and I feel scared and like everyone is going to judge me, I always go to the, “This is bullshit. This is just bullshit.” You should have seen me on this bike. I could not get clipped into it, so the first time I rode it, I rode it for 30 minutes, not even watching a class, just by myself, not clipped in, it didn’t work at all. Then I finally learned how to get clipped into it, and I left my shoes clipped into my bicycle, my bike for three months. For three months, my bike just sat in my study with the shoes attached to it, because I couldn’t get them off, I didn’t know how to do it. Now I can get on and off and ride it but being new is hard. Another great small example. I just got bangs. Now, I have not had bangs since the ’90s. And back then, they were like your standard issue breakup bangs. They came with a cigarette and a wine cooler, and you got them cut right after some asshole broke up with you.

BB: So, I got bangs. How long ago did I get bangs, about a month ago, two? About a month ago? [chuckle] I got bangs. And when I left the… I was going to call it a beauty parlor, but we’ll call it… What’s this… Salon. [chuckle] I need like a “what’s cool?” translator for my podcast, I need to put something on the microphone so that when I say, “I left my pocketbook on the drainboard,” it translates it to, “I left my purse on the counter.” Anyway, so I got these bangs, and I was leaving the salon, because I’m too cool to go to a beauty parlor, but I left the salon and I thought they looked so cute. Well, let me just tell you, for the next four to five days, at least, I’d be late for work, I couldn’t get my hair to work, all I could do is resort back to my… I had to rely on muscle memory in my wrist and my round brush and… Let me just tell you, I looked like Vince Neil. And if you don’t know who Vince Neil is, you can Google Mötley Crüe, 1985. I just had big ’80s hair, and everyone was trying to be very supportive. They would say things like, “Wow, still looks good after all these years. [chuckle] Would you like a wine cooler?” So hard things, hard where… New is hard and we don’t like the discomfort.

BB: But something that I’ve seen over the past 20 years has really scared me. The last 20 years of research, I’ve seen how sometimes we all get so afraid of the vulnerability that we actually stop trying or doing anything that we’re not already good at doing. So if it’s not already comfortable, if we already don’t have some expertise, if we don’t already know how to do it and do it well, we’re not doing it. Here’s what’s hard, and I think scary about that. When we give up being new and awkward, we stop growing, and we stop growing, we stop living. I love that quote from Shawshank Redemption, “Get busy living or get busy dying.” When we stop growing, we start declining, there’s no neutral here. When we no longer feel that discomfort of being new, of being an awkward learner, things start to shut down inside of us. The discomfort of exploration of doing new things, of being an awkward rookie again, that’s the juice, it’s our lifeblood. It’s the secret sauce.

BB: And here’s the even bigger news, I think. 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. If there’s one thing I know for sure, normalizing discomfort, learning how to stay standing in the midst of feeling unsure and uncertain, that’s the foundation of courage. Imagine what it would be like to know that you can get through something that’s vulnerable and uncomfortable, that you have what it takes to survive the cringey, awkward moments, as my kids would say, “That’s so cringey, mom.” Knowing that we have the strength to survive those moments and come out on the other side with new information, new ideas, new habits, new skills, that’s how we get braver with our lives and with our hearts.

BB: So I want to share a strategy with you for embracing the suck of new, and I’m going to confess that I am 100% leaning in to that strategy right now. The strategy is called the FFT. Now, if you’re social distancing right now, and you’re home with your kids… And you’re home with your kids, and someone who filters the language they hear, I’d like for you to walk slowly and calmly to your phone and take it off speaker. I’m going to tell you what FFT stands for. You may not want to blast this, or you may want to. Take your phone and hold it up to your ear for just a sec. I’ll give you five, four, three, two, one. Okay, FFT stands for Fucking First Time, and right now it is saving me. I am white knuckling about five different FFTs right now, and without this strategy, I’d be out of my mind. The first most powerful part of the strategy is naming the FFT when you’re in it, “Hey, what is going on right now? Why am I… Why do I feel out of control? Why do I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing? Why am I in a shame spiral? Why am I so confused?” I’m like, “Is this an FFT? I’m in an FFT.” So naming it is key to understanding it, because we’re meaning-making species. We’ve got to have the meaning and we have to have language as a handle. So first we identify that we’re in an FFT and we name it.

BB: Sometimes, and this is a really big myth, sometimes we’re afraid to name experiences or feelings because we think naming them gives them power, and if we’re feeling something hard or uncomfortable, the last thing we want to do is give it power. Let me dispel this myth now with 400,000 pieces of data and 20 years of research. When we name and own hard things, it does not give them power, it gives us power. And what do I mean by power? The best definition of power that I think exists in the world is from Martin Luther King Jr., “Power is the ability to effect change and achieve purpose.” So if we put it all together, when we name and own hard things, it doesn’t give the hard things power, it gives us the power to effect change and achieve purpose. So if we can say, “Oh my God, this is hard because I’m in an FFT,” again, maybe it’s something small, like trying to fix my bangs or ride my new bike, or your first yoga with goats class, or a new job, or a new relationship, “Why is this so hard? Oh, FFT. I’m in the FFT.”

BB: And naming the FFT leads to three steps. One, we can normalize it, “Oh, this is exactly how new is supposed to feel. This is uncomfortable because brave is uncomfortable.” Two, we can put it in perspective, “This feeling is not permanent, and it doesn’t mean I suck at everything. It means I’m in the middle of an FFT around this one thing.” Three, I can reality check my expectations, “This is going to suck for a while. I’m not going to crush this right away.” And if you’re interested in teaching your kids the FFT strategy, you can always call it TFT, terrible first times. And remember, the thing to teach them is when you’re in a TFT, when they’re at that first gymnastics class, or their first Spanish class, or their first spelling bee, or the first date, or the first time driving, when you’re in a TFT, a terrible first time, what you’re trying to do is normalize it, put it in perspective, and reality check your expectations.

BB: A great example that I can give you around the FFT and being new is when you’re newly sober and you’re working a 12-step program or many of the other programs, people will say you need to go to six meetings in six days, or you need to go to 10 meetings in 10 days. Why? Because expectation says, “I’m going to go to a meeting, someone’s going to say something, and I’m going to be cured.” We have terrible expectations around first times. We just set ourselves up for such shame and such disaster with our expectations. So if you go to six meetings in six days, this is how it normally works: Meeting one, it’s the Brené approach, “This is bullshit. I don’t know what I’m doing here, and these people are mostly losers, and I’m better than everyone here.” Day two, “Okay, this again, just confirming what I thought. I shouldn’t be here, I’m better than everyone here.” Day three, “Well, I mean, maybe I’m not better than everyone here, maybe some of the things I’m hearing, maybe they’re resonating, but this shit smells like cigarettes, and it’s stale, the coffee is horrible. I just… It’s not for me.” Day four, “Okay, these are my people, and I need a cigarette and a cup of coffee, really bad coffee.” That’s the way it works. And so, name the FFT, and that leads us to normalizing, putting things in perspective, and reality checking.

BB: So I’m going to walk you through a couple of examples in my own life right now. And this is pretty vulnerable for me, but I thought, “Screw it. It’s the first podcast. Go vulnerable or go home,” that’s my new motto. But I’m in a lot of FFTs right now. The podcast is one, advertising, which is part of the podcast, is another. And I’m not sure about you, but this is my first f’ing global pandemic. So I’m going to just be super honest with you about what FFTs feel like for me right now and walk you through naming them, what was going on before I named them, and then how I normalized, put things in perspective, and started reality checking.

BB: So let’s start with the podcast, because you’re here with me in it right now. You’re not in an FFT because you’re probably not listening to your first podcast, but I am in my FFT, and I’ll tell you why.

BB: Because I did my first podcast… When did… When did I Thought It Was Just Me come out, like 2007? So I did my first podcast in 2007, I bought a little microphone, I set it up in my red kitchen table, and I did a read along podcast for 10 weeks, and it was so much fun, but then it kind of went away, and it got complicated for me, and I didn’t know how to do all the feeds, at that time. It was hard, and I was doing it on GarageBand which seemed super complicated for me, so I kind of gave it up, but it’s never left the back of my mind. And I just… To be honest with you, this has always felt like my dream job or dream medium, is building community and having real hard conversations about everything, from love to heart break. This is what I want to do.

BB: So we decided, “This is it, we’re going to podcast.” So we went whole hog. We transformed the downstairs space in our office to a beautiful podcast room with a green room, we found a wonderful partner, we set up interviews, we set up a big launch at South by Southwest, we did everything in my dream scape for this podcast, and then Corona came, and now I’m in a closet on top of my son’s dirty Under Armour clothes. And, I have to say that I recorded my first podcast a couple of days ago, then after I recorded, I said, “I don’t want to go on with my podcast to my community the first time, with other people. I just want to talk directly to y’all.” I had to practice saying hi, I have to think about it right now, wait, do I have it written down somewhere, do I have a post it note? Check.

BG: Hey, everyone.

BB: No, oh, is it hey everyone?

BG: Yeah.

BB: What am I saying?

BG: Hey, everyone. This is Brené.

BB: Do I say hey or hi?

BG: Hi.

BB: Oh, hi, yeah. See, you suck too. [laughter] FFT. Hi, everyone. I’m Brené Brown.

BG: This is Unlocking Us.

BB: And this is Unlocking Us. [laughter] God, you see. I have practiced that 30 times because I didn’t like it at first because it lacked something. So for some reason, I thought I would do something more around, “Hey, guys and gals, dolls and… ” I don’t know what comes with a doll, and my sister looked at me and said, “I think that’s the guy from Grease.” I was like, “Shut up.” It took me like 20 times to get this right, and I still can’t really do it without looking. Then I tried to do something more serious, where I was going to get really close to the mic, because I saw that in a movie and I said, “Somewhere I saw this great podcaster talking into a mic with this kind of like… Not a sexy voice, but more of a, ‘Hi, everyone, this is Brené Brown.'” Then I thought to myself, “Check, no, that’s Pirate Radio. And he was the crazy guy who unzipped his pants and made the zipper sounds on his radio station as they were broadcasting from the ship.”

BB: So all I’m saying is that I’m in an FFT, I don’t know how it’s all going to work. I don’t know how it’s all going to sound, but what I know is that I’m in an FFT, and it’s hard and I want to be myself, but in those f’ing first times, we have a tendency to armor up and protect, and do things from movies or other ideas that usually move us away from being ourselves. In fact, when things started canceling and shifting, I called an emergency meeting of our leadership team, and within five minutes, we were all frustrated and we were kind of vying for, “Who’s the most overwhelmed?” Is that true?

BG: Yes.

BB: And I just kept saying, “Y’all, the wheels are falling off of the podcast, the shit is hitting the fan, what’s happening?” And then finally, and it might have been you, was it you Barrett? Someone said, maybe Suzanne, someone said, “FFT, we’re in an FFT.” It was like opening that little knob on the Instant Pot, wasn’t it?

BG: Yes.

BB: It was like shhhhhh, just the pressure relief. Just naming it. We were like, “We’re in an FFT.” So what are the three things in an FFT? Normalize it, put it in perspective, reality check. So normalize it; This is exactly how we’re supposed to feel, this is new, we don’t know what we’re doing. That’s why it’s so wobbly. That’s why we’re scared. That’s why we don’t know. We can’t draw on history, we can’t draw on experience, we can’t say, “Oh, this is the way we did it, this is the way we really crushed it back when we did that podcast in ’85.” We are coming atcha, from a pile of dirty clothes, in a closet, without a net, because we’re FFT’ing. Put it in perspective; The simple thing, again, not permanent, it doesn’t mean we suck at everything. Let’s remember, for us, this is how we’re getting our FFT, getting through our FFT with a podcast, in five days, five weeks, or five months, when we look back, we might laugh a little and we will for sure say, “Do you remember when that was so hard? And here are the 25 things that we were super sure about doing back then that we would never do again.” That’s the reality of the first time, that’s why it’s the secret sauce, that’s why it’s the juice, that’s why it keeps us growing and our brains firing. Last, reality checking expectations; Here is the universal reality check in the FFT, whether it is a parenting FFT, whether it is a professional FFT, this is a heavier lift than what we thought or expected.

BB: An emotionally heavier lift, a physically heavier lift, a strategy resource heavier lift. This is harder than we thought, and it’s scary. So when you’re in the FFT, you’ve got to remind yourself, it’s going to take twice as long, be 10 times as hard, and I personally am going to be 25% more pissed off all the time because I don’t do wobbly. And this is a great time, first podcast, I think I should just clear this up with them right now. If you’re thinking Brené doesn’t do wobbly? She’s like the patron saint of vulnerability. The joke’s on all of us. I believe in vulnerability, I try to practice it. I’m not really into it. I am not it. I am not. Don’t let me be the representative of vulnerability. I’m the researcher, not the representative. I don’t like wobbly. The other things that were shocking, when I say, “Reality check your expectation; the lift is going to be worse.”

BB: So our partners Cadence13. We love them. They sent their audio engineer down to Houston to take our beautiful podcast space and set it up. So I thought he was going to come with maybe a handle bag, like a Nordstrom size handle bag with some microphones. I walk into the podcast space, there are 20 boxes, and he’s under the table with a drill. And he kind of slides out and says, “Hey, your grandpa didn’t build this or anything, right? I’m just drilling all into it.” It took three 12-hour days to set up the podcast room, and 50 boxes of stuff.

BB: If you’re like me, and you’re not good at estimating time or energy or effort, the FFT will really F you up because it’s always going to be harder than you thought. It’s just going to be new, wobbly. But here’s the thing new, wobbly, honest, coming right at you from the dirty clothes in the closet, in social distancing right now, I’m super glad you’re here. Second thing that’s very, very scary for me right now is advertising on this podcast. I’ve never done a paid ad in my life. I don’t even stand close to podiums with brands on them when I speak in public. I don’t talk about brands, nothing, nada. I think that’s partly because of my academic training. If you do any type of brand work or take any money even like, I think it’s over $5 or something. There’s a shit ton of paperwork and I’m just not great at… I’m the paperwork person… I do the paperwork when I get the 14th email that says, “We’re revoking everything, including your birth certificate.” So I’ve never done any kind of brand work, ad work. I’ve just never done it.

BB: We went with an advertising model for this podcast because it makes the most sense to us. It’s free, you can… Everyone can get it. But there are ads. And there have to be ads because we have a team of 10 people, and we have a huge partner, and people need to make a living. And it’s not that I can’t evangelize a product. So I come from a long line of evangelists. I have these very vivid memories of sitting at my grandmother’s table in San Antonio, south side of San Antonio, over if you’re San Antonian, hey, hey, over by McCreless Mall. And she’d come out of the kitchen wearing… She always wore a patchwork housecoat that snapped at the front, with pearl snaps, and she has square-toed cowboy boots, kind of like a bronzy leather with Eagles stamped on both sides of them. And she wore black cat-eye glasses until the very end, and I remember very distinctly sitting there one day, and I was sitting there with Curley, her husband who was a forklift driver for Pearl Brewery and said, “This is Jimmy Dean’s new sausage. It has sage in it. Sage is a spice. This is the best sausage I’ve ever had, and you can get it too in the frozen food aisle at the Piggly Wiggly.” She was the best ad person of her time.

BB: My mom was the same way. So she’s… My mom still does ads, all the time. She’ll say, “Try this lotion.” “Oh, I’m good Ma.” “Try this lotion. It’s both silk and smoothing, but won’t leave you feeling… ” [chuckle] Okay, yes or no? I don’t know. I don’t know. We just have it. So I come from a long maternal line of cursers and evangelists. But I’m still anxious about it because I don’t want to go through the new part of it. What if I can’t do it? What if it sounds weird? What if I’m ridiculous? What if I’m embarrassed or I go into a shame spiral while I’m trying to say something? I just… It’s going to be hard.

BB: So, I had a little FFT breakdown about the advertising. And my team looked at me and said, “FFT Brené. Normalize it, this is the first time. Put it into perspective, it won’t always be hard, and set realistic expectations.” I said, “What does that mean?” And they said, “Reality check the expectations, not only of yourself but the people around you. When we’re in FFT, we have to reality set expectations for everyone.” So I said, “Okay, let me think about this.” Reality check expectations, even with external partners. Even if you’re with your family, don’t just reality check your expectations. Reality check them with your partner, with your kids. So I said, “Okay.” We sat down, big leadership meeting, everyone from Cadence13, everyone from our side and I just was completely honest about expectations. I basically said, “I’ve got good news and bad news about the advertising. Good news, I can get really excited about things I love. The bad news, I will do no ads, zero, for anything that I do not love, period. If I don’t love it, I’m not going to talk about it. And when I do talk about it, I’m not going to read anyone’s copy.” And you could just kind of see their faces going…

BB: Maybe I threw them into the… Maybe I threw them into an FFT. Oh, I definitely… [chuckle] Barrett’s laughing and smiling. We definitely threw them into an FFT, and they said, “Say more about not reading the copy and only things you love.” And I said, “I can’t bullshit this community because I’ve spent over a decade building this community and I trust them, and I think they trust me.” So if I love it, I’ll talk to them about it freely, but I’m going to tell stories about it, and my own stories about it and why I love it, and that’s not reading ad copy, and if I have never tried it or I just kind of like it a bit, I’m not going to sell it to them any more than I’d sell it to people that I love. So here’s the thing, ads start next week. Our ad policy is straightforward, I like to call it, all BB, no BS. If I’m advertising it, then I believe in it, I’ll tell you the story about why I love it, listen to it, use it or do it, and you can count on me for that.

BB: So normalize, this is new and sometimes I have intentionally stayed away from things like this. I feel weird but I feel less weird when I’m in my values. Perspective, I can’t feel weird forever. I might even start to enjoy telling you about things I love. And expectations, there’s this great quote… We’re reality checking expectations as a part of dealing with our FFT. So this quote that I love, I’ve seen it attributed to Nelson Mandela, I’ve seen it attributed to Anne Lamott, well suffice it to say that some really smart person said, “Expectations are just resentments waiting to happen.” So when as part of… In our FFT, we’re in something new and hard, reality check expectations and that really minimizes resentment, I have saved the hardest FFT for last, the COV1D-19 pandemic. I think it’s safe to say that this pandemic is a collective FFT, so let’s just name that right off the bat.

BB: We don’t know what we’re doing, many of us are trying to make our kids feel reassured when we don’t feel sure about anything, we’re trying to be normal, but nothing is normal. And can I just also say it’s the worst FFT ever? I mean, I’m a grown-ass person, but I do not know what I’m doing. So if I take the strategy that I use personally and professionally for the FFT, and we normalize it, put it in perspective and reality check expectations, here’s what that looks like for me. Normalize it, we don’t know how to do this, and by “this” I mean, we don’t know how to social distance and stay sane. We don’t know how to stay socially connected, but far apart. We’re learning and we’re getting better, and you can see that every day. We don’t know what to tell our kids, we don’t know exactly how to homeschool. I saw something on TikTok or Instagram that said, “I have home schooled for one day, every teacher should make one billion dollars a day.”

BB: We don’t know exactly what we’re doing, we’re anxious, we’re uncertain, we are, a lot of us, afraid, and it is okay to feel all those feelings. And let me tell you this for sure, and I know this from my life, I know this from again, 20 years of research and 400,000 pieces of data, if you don’t name what you’re feeling, if you don’t own the feelings and feel them, they will eat you alive. And if you’re a parent, you can give your kids a sense of safety while also modeling and teaching them what not knowing and uncertainty looks and feels like. Helping your kids feel safe and secure during this time of uncertainty, and modeling what uncertainty can look like and feel like are not mutually exclusive. It is… That is that dual mind, that’s being able to hold two different things that have a lot of tension and to have the strength to hold things like that, is really how we measure human intelligence and emotional intelligence.

BB: I know we want to try to make everything certain for our kids, and we think that’s what makes them feel safe, but what happens is when they’re away from us and then they feel uncertain, they think that automatically means they’re unsafe and that’s not the truth. So we can say, “We don’t know what’s happening, we’re doing the best that we think we can do, it is scary, and that’s okay to feel.” But y’all, it’s okay, let’s just… It’s okay to even be overwhelmed with emotion right now. You just have to name it and feel it, so if you’re with people and you’re social distancing with a group of people, have a check-in, one word to describe what you’re feeling right now, one thing you’re grateful for right now. If you’re by yourself, reach out, and not text. Phone, or FaceTime, or Zoom, or something where you can see people or hear people, and just say, just check… One word check-in, “What’s going on for you right now?”

BB: We did it to… Did we do that? Was that today? And we got everything from kind of settling in to uncertain to anxious, but just being able to say it, again, meaning-making species, we need language as handles to be able to say what we’re feeling, to wrap words around it, allows us to start making meaning. Number two, putting this FFT of the pandemic in perspective, we don’t know when this will end, but we do know it’s not forever. And if you’re a parent, remember that perspective is a function of experience, the less experience, the less perspective. If you have kids who are saying, “I’ll never see my friends again,” or, “I can’t believe we’re missing spring break.” That lack of perspective is not always about selfishness, and we don’t make them tougher or more empathic towards others by diminishing their feelings.

BB: Disappointment is something that a lot of us are feeling right now, and it’s okay to feel disappointed. It’s okay to be safe, have enough food, have some resources and still feel disappointed, because denying your disappointment doesn’t make you more empathetic towards people who have it a lot worse than you do, it makes us less empathetic. So all of the feels, all okay. Name them and talk about them. And then reality checking expectations, we’ve got to be more patient with each other. And as Harriet Lerner, my friend, says, “Listen with the same passion that you have for being heard,” that’s hard, because I have a lot of passion for wanting to be heard, and sometimes not very much passion for listening. We have to ask for what we need. We have to reality-check ourselves when we start drifting towards so-called experts that know everything and are offering certainty.

BB: One of the scariest times for us collectively is when we’re vulnerable, because when we’re vulnerable, people who call themselves leaders or experts can pop up and quickly gain our trust by selling and peddling certainty to us. And anyone who’s certain right now, in my opinion… I mean not certain like, “Social distancing will be helpful, hand washing,” but can tell you, “This is exactly what’s happening. This is exactly when it’s going to end. This is exactly who’s going to get sick. This is exactly… ” Anyone who is telling, “It’s not a big deal. We’re all okay.” Anyone who is using anything but science and facts to give you certainty right now, in my opinion, needs to be reality checked.

BB: Exercise, sleep if you can, and also… Listen, all of these TikToks and Instagrams and Facebooks of our Italian neighbors and friends on their porches, singing, dancing, doing exercises together, I want a reality check that they’re a solid week ahead of us, and I don’t think we saw that from them when they were in day three, or day two, or day four of social distancing or quarantine. If I had an instrument right now, I would ask for a tuba because I’m with my entire family, my extended family, then we busted my mom and her husband out of assisted living when they went into lockdown there. And I would ask for a tuba and then I would crawl inside of it and hide, and then I’d ask someone to push the tuba down the hill in our backyard and rolling into it, into like the lake in the tuba. I’m not… I’m not leading a band right now. I’m… We’re having… Are we having kind of a hard time? I’m looking at Barrett.

BG: Yup.

BB: What would you say?

BG: A lot of hard conversations. Definitely FFTs, definitely having to ask for what we need, having to say, “This is how I’m feeling. This is how I’m experiencing this,” and making sure that we’re all on the same page is the only way we’re getting through.

BB: Yeah, she’s really… She’s really good. We had a hard conversation today.

BG: True. [chuckle]

BB: We did, that’s why I’d like to climb into a tuba and roll down the hill. I don’t even know where that came from. It’s just the visual I have right now.

BG: It’s fair.

BB: It’s fair. We can’t give up on each other y’all. We’re all we have, even in the FFTs. So we’re going to drop this podcast every Wednesday, once we find our footing. Next week, we’re going to drop podcasts Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday because we want to, and I’m excited about you hearing from some of the people I’ve interviewed. Monday, I’m talking to Tarana Burke, the founder of the “Me Too” movement, who is a dear friend, and we talk about everything from falling in love and sharing space with people that we love, namely, our partners. And then Tuesday, I’m going to talk to Glennon Doyle on her new book, Untamed. If you have not read Untamed yet, this is a book for these times, Untamed. It’ll be really fun if you can get it, but what a great conversation I had with Glennon.


BB: I have not practiced a fancy sign off yet so I will just say I’m grateful for you, I think this is going to be fun. I think we’re going to learn some stuff. I think we’re going to get braver and hopefully unlock a little bit about what it means to be human in this crazy world. So this is Unlocking Us, thank you for listening.

© 2020 Brené Brown Education and Research Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Brown, B. (Host). (2020, March 20). Brené on FFTs. [Audio podcast episode]. In Unlocking Us with Brené Brown. Cadence13.

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