In the middle of July I took a quick road trip by myself to visit my mom for my birthday. My favorite thing about solo road trips is that they allow me the time to catch up on podcasts or books that I can listen to as I drive. I was excited to listen to Brené Brown’s first episode of her podcast Unlocking Us (https://brenebrown.com/podcast/brene-on-ffts/ ). Brené is a highly respected researcher and speaker on the topics of vulnerability and shame. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out any of her work, I highly recommend her (www.brenebrown.com ). Anyway, Brené’s first podcast entitled “Brené on FFTs” really hit home with me. So what are FFTs? Well, to use the censored version, FFTs stands for “Effing” first times– but personally it hits home better with me when I use the expletive. You decide. Or, if we are talking to or teaching our children about FFTs we can call them TFTs, terrible first times. Listening to this podcast was perfect timing for me as I was about to venture out on my own with Storybook Wellness. There are so many FFT’s for me everyday here at Storybook. Receptionist? FFT, Insurance billing? FFT, Owning a business? FFT… and the list goes on and on. Actually, the only two things that aren’t FFTs, are providing therapy and teaching yoga. Not to mention that I launched into all of this in the middle of what Brené calls the “collective FFT” of the global C-19 pandemic as well as the new learning and growing many of us are doing as we expand our understanding of what racism is and what we all hold inside. New is exciting, but it is also scary and hard. The good news is that we are in this together. When we allow ourselves to step-out of our comfort zones and try new things, that is where growth happens.
Here is what Brené shared about how to “embrace the suck of new:”
1. Name the FFT.
Brené explains that naming and owning tough things gives us power over what is going on. Just the act of identifying, naming, and acknowledging the FFT gives us the space to better effect change and achieve purpose. It is important not only to name the FFT for ourselves, but also for our partners, colleagues, teammates, and/or children.
2. Normalize the FFT.
Allowing ourselves to feel the feelings of being awkward, afraid, stressed, scared, excited… all of the feelings that come along with something new are perfectly normal feelings! Brené suggests that we remind ourselves “This is uncomfortable because brave is uncomfortable.” As much as we want to fast forward through those feelings of discomfort we know we cannot. We, instead, need to acknowledge and normalize those feelings as we gain skills to cope with the distress and discomfort as we press on, rather than avoid the FFTs.
3. Put the FFT in Perspective.
Putting our FFTs in perspective allows us to recognize that the current feelings we are
having are not permanent. As hard as FFTs are, they do not stay FFTs forever. Reminding ourselves that we don’t struggle with everything, that we are just in an FFT in regard to one (or two) specific thing(s). Not everything is hard/new, but this is, and it will pass. It will get easier if we stick with it. Brené suggests reminding ourselves something like; “In 5 weeks, 5 months, 5 years from now we will be able to look back on this FFT and say remember when that was so hard?” and “these are the things we did well and these are the things we would do differently now, knowing what we know.”
4. Reality check expectations around the FFT.
This is one that I have found to be the most helpful. Brené explains that we as humans are classic for setting expectations too high and then setting ourselves up for shame spirals and disappointment. When we are full of shame and disappointed we are less likely to try again. As much as we want to be perfect. WE ARE NOT. We will make mistakes and we will not be the best at things when they are FFT’s. It is amazing how things change when we give ourselves (and others) grace around that. We will make mistakes and learn from them. That is where the growth is. The growth is in the skill building, gaining perspective, knowing what works for us and what doesn’t. It takes time, vulnerability, courage, and grace to move through it to the other side. It is important that we reality check expectations with everyone who is involved in our FFT. Brené also tells us that it is important to put these things out there so that everyone can start on the same page. Brené suggests that a “universal reality check” for FFTs is “This is a heavier lift than what we thought or expected.” That heavier lift could be emotional, financial, time, physical effort, or a combination of many things.
“If the definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. Then being new is the epitome of vulnerability.”
We have had a wonderful first week here at Storybook Wellness full of FFTs, vulnerability, and new learning. Thank you all for sharing it with us. If it feels good to you, please comment and share one of your current FFTs or your thoughts on this post.
Love to All