Book Review: Braving The Wilderness by Brené Brown

The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.’ ~ Brené Brown, PhD, LMSW

Winter is the perfect time to retreat from the world and to spend time reading.  I’m working my way through books that have been on my wish list for ages.

I am currently reading Braving The Wilderness by Brené Brown and I’m having quite a few ah-ha moments.  This book is helping me make sense of some of the thoughts and ideas I have been developing and also sheds new light on the current global conversations.

I have been questioning and reviewing my ideas, releasing what no longer holds true for me or is no longer required.  Ultimately I realise that I am (re)discovering my true self.  This process can be confusing and sometimes messy but inner knowing is guiding this transition.

‘True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.’ ~ Brené Brown

This book is a mix of research, storytelling and honesty to encourage wider conversations.  Social scientist Brené Brown starts the discussion about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives – experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame and empathy.

Brown believes we are experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection.  In the book she offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and each other.

Brené writes, ‘True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in both being a part of something, and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.

One of the main issues identified through her research was the feeling of being ‘spiritually disconnected,’ a diminishing sense of shared humanity. What seems to bind us together now is shared fear and disdain, not common humanity, shared trust, respect or love. Emerging from the responses in her research, Brown describes four elements as ‘true belonging.’

1. People Are Hard to Hate Close Up. Move In.
2. Speak Truth to BS. Be Civil.
3. Hold Hands. With Strangers.
4. Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart.

I found this a powerful and inspiring book.  It unpacks our contemporary ways of being and the disconnect that is experienced on a global & personal level.  This book seems to connect with our desire to be our true self even if our true self has been deeply buried during our journey through life.  We can experience trauma, upsetting events, get stuck in life situations or end up completely lost but our deeper knowing will continue to give us messages to guide us back on track.  Our inner wisdom pushes us towards finding our true self again.

We have a collective and individual desire to belong.  It is what makes us human.  Brown writes “We are wired for connection. But the key is that, in any given moment of it, it has to be real.

Braving The Wilderness encourages us to build courage, resilience, review ourselves, move in, be civil, be our true self and to find our true voice.

Watch Brené Brown discuss Braving The Wilderness with Marie Forleo.  “How to Brave The Wilderness” with a particular focus on some powerful truths about belonging, courage, and why we all desperately need to change the way we talk about our enemies.

Also watch Brené Brown’s inspirational TED talk “The power of vulnerability”.  One of the most watched TED talks with 40 million views to date (TED website & YouTube views).  Brené Brown studies human connection – our ability to empathise, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TED, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.