“We are complex beings who wake up every day and fight against being labeled and diminished with stereotypes and characterisations that don’t reflect our fullness. Yet when we don’t risk standing on our own and speaking out, when the options laid before us force us into the very categories we resist, we perpetuate our own disconnection and loneliness. When we are willing to risk venturing into the wilderness, and even becoming our own wilderness, we feel the deepest connection to our true self and to what matters the most.”
What Brené Brown says matters. Her research, storytelling, and honesty are hallmarks of her writing. In some of her other books she has spoken profoundly about how vulnerability, authenticity, and imperfection can be life changing in our interaction with others and how we see and conduct ourselves. In Braving the Wilderness, she delves into cultivating true belonging in our communities, organisations, and culture. In an age of increasing polarisation, belonging can be harmful as well as beneficial. It’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or just try to fit in, rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. Sometimes we need to have the courage to stand alone and disagree or speak the truth in love. Personally I didn’t connect with this book as much as I did Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection, but I think it is an important work and very current.
This youtube of the author encapsulates what all of her books say in one way or another and it is powerful. Watch the whole interview or skip to the best nugget at minute 32:40.
Brené Brown simply tells it like it is. She doesn’t write books that make promises about how you can easily improve or change your life. She says she herself has developed a fairly sensitive “bullsh*t meter” when it comes to self-help books, and this is not a self-help book. She is brutally honest about her own struggles and failures. Brown (PH.D, LMSW) is a well respected researcher and storyteller. Her insights into shame, authenticity, and belonging have been groundbreaking and are hugely encouraging. Another book of hers called Daring Greatly, is about having the courage to be vulnerable.
No one is perfect and when we inevitably fail, we suffer from shame and feelings of being “not enough.” We live our lives in fear of judgement. With perfectionism, shame is always lurking. Brown encourages us to choose authenticity and live a wholehearted life that cultivates courage, compassion, and connection, and lets go of the destructiveness of trying to be perfect. She says perfectionism is not the same as striving to be our best. It is about trying to gain approval. We all seek connection and long to belong and fit in. But she draws an interesting distinction here. Fitting in is not the same as belonging. Fitting in is about trying to become who we need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require any change–we can embrace who we are and belong, as we are. Being authentic invites grace, joy and gratitude into our lives. Like Leonard Cohen says, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
This is an excellent guide to wholehearted living. This kind of book is so important in a world where we never seem to measure up to the ideals in the media or the impossible standards we set for ourselves.
This is a powerful and important book. In a simple, straightforward anecdotal style (she calls herself a storyteller), Brené Brown Ph.D. LMSW, shares findings from twelve years of pioneering research on the experience of the uncertainty, risks, and emotional exposure that define what it means to be vulnerable. Her findings were surprising, even to herself. Brown dispels the cultural myth that vulnerability is weakness and argues that it is our most accurate measure of courage.
Vulnerability is at the core of difficult emotions like fear, grief, and disappointment, but also the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, empathy, innovation, and creativity. The sub-title of this book says it all. By taking the courage to be vulnerable we can transform the way we live, love, parent and lead. Daring greatly by ‘putting ourselves out there’, is essential to wholehearted living and a sense of self worth. But it can be risky, messy and uncomfortable at first. In her TED talks, Brown shares the personal struggles she had to endure, as she grappled with the truth in her research findings. What she discovered is that by acknowledging fear and by having the courage to be vulnerable, we unleash our creativity and become able to share the unique gifts and contributions that only we can make.
She has written a few other books which also look good, although I have not read them. Here is a link to two 20 minute TED talk videos which would serve to introduce or supplement the message of her book. The link is part of her website where you can also see the titles of her other works.
TED Talks by Brené Brown