Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

by: Brené Brown (0)

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK • A timely and important book that challenges everything we think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organizations, and culture, from the #1 bestselling author of Rising Strong, Daring Greatly, and The Gifts of Imperfection

Don’t miss the five-part HBO Max docuseries Brené Brown: Atlas of the Heart!

“True belonging doesn’t require us to
change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Brené Brown, PhD, MSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives—experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.

Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in 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.” Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “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.”

The Reviews

I've been staring at the computer screen for about 10 minutes now, trying to start this review, and having no idea how to do so. I just can't make the words come out, and writing the review terrifies me, and makes me feel a little ill. You see, I didn't buy, or read this book because I know the author or her work. I did both because the content sounded interesting, and because I needed my next big review. Yes, I read this book so I could review it, which is where the ill part enters. I started working toward being an Amazon Top 1000 reviewer about a year ago. Not because I really cared about the was just a goal. Something intangible I could work toward. And I chose it, because sad though it is, my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are the last place in this entire world where I am willing to communicate, in any capacity, with other human beings. They're all I have left.I live a sad life. I have no friends and I'm lonely... So lonely that as I type this I feel like crying, even though I accepted this as my reality a long time ago. I cancelled facebook two years ago. I lost my last real friend three years ago. I struggle to call and make appointments because it requires talking to strangers, and for this reason I also can't go to the grocery store, or the gas station, or any other list of a hundred places that normal people go to have normal lives.You see, I decided five years ago that I was done with fitting in, and that I'd rather be lonely and alone, than to continue immersing myself in a world I found caustic.Everywhere I looked people seemed to be shouting, trying to make their voices heard. The most recent clever story on facebook. The most wittily stated opinion. I didn't see kindness, I saw intolerance and rudeness. I saw people ripping each other down through the medium of social media because they didn't have to look that person in the face, and see how their comments hurt them. Then I watched as that attitude seemed to make people less tolerant in the real world as well. I wanted no part of it anymore. From that point on I was standing alone, and that was that. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but as the years have passed, I've cut myself so far off from humanity that it feels like I'm the only person left in my world. It hurts, SO much, but I don't know how to undo it. I don't know how to go back.At least...I didn't. I know this review is already too long, and all I've done is clumsily muddle my way through it—attempting to express something I don't even know if others will understand. This is frustrating for me, because I don't want to talk about myself, and doing so is terrifying, particularly after so many years of silence. But I didn't know how else to express the impact this book had on me, without first talking about how much pain I've been in, and how nefarious my reasons for reading it in the first place. I got the "standing alone" part down pat. I did that years ago. The part I couldn't find, that maybe I'd never have found on my own, is the part where I know how to belong to something again. Join the world. Feel a connection to life and humanity.I cried just about the entire duration of this book. I got it because it sounded "interesting", but I feel like it opened up a hole in the side of my sad little world. I didn't think it would apply to me, but it's changed my life. I expected to write an honest, clinical review discussing its contents from a dispassionate point of view. But instead, here I am, still clumsily attempting to convey my feelings in the hopes that some part of this review might encourage even one other person to read this book.Everyone should read this book. Everyone who wants to stand alone, but still belong. Everyone who already is alone, and wants to be a part of something again. Everyone who is tired of a humanity that is separated. Give it a shot. If nothing else, get the sample chapters, and see if there's something in it that might speak to you.And if my review is clumsy, I sincerely apologize. Please don't let that turn you off from the book. It changed my life, and I think it can do as much for many.EDIT: It's been 6 months since I wrote this review, and when I said this book changed my life, it did. Oh, how it did! I got into therapy. I've made some friends who share my interests, and even many of my anxieties. I no longer feel lonely or threatened. If anyone out there struggles as I did, please know that help is available, and change is possible. All it takes is one moment that changes all other moments. For me, that was this book! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of you who have supported me, and supported each other. Humanity is far more wonderful than I once believed!!!

Probably like many of you, I became acquainted with Ms. Brown through a Ted Talk. It wasn't long after when her name started popping up in some online forums I visit. The consensus was that her work on shame and vulnerability was validating and empowering. Currently struggling in my own wilderness, the reviews of this and other works of hers led me to believe I was in for something possibly life-changing, maybe just validating, but absolutely worth the read.I understand we all process pain and trauma differently, and that her experiences have been no less excruciating than my own due to the odd and flexible concept of relativity... but! it's just very hard to relate to someone who name drops Maya Angelou.Much of her book relates back to her career, support system, faith, and how it all synergistically worked out when she decided to stand up to life.Though off to a bit of a rocky start, she made it through higher education into a career. She relies on (and has in abundance) faith and a strong support network to keep her going. Her version of alone looks nothing like mine, whereas I find myself completely isolated in my old hometown, no relevant work history in a rural community devoid of opportunities, childless, faithless, without friends or family.The struggles are different, but the pain is the same. Maybe? I can't help but think if we were both out hiking in the wilderness and each fell into a ravine, she'd get rescued while I'd slowly die of sepsis after being punctured by a large, pointy, fallen branch. Cats, as it were, don't dial 911. Standing apart and being alone are two very different things.I hear what she's saying, I really do. That we have to be brave, that we cannot rely on others to provide belief in us when we do not have such confidence in ourselves. But the way she presents this is more of, "How to capitalize on past success and current fame," rather than, "How to reach out to those struggling, lost in the wilderness, and help them see their way safely through the dangerous terrain without being eaten by a bear (or the expectations of society.)"There were touching passages, but she lost me after she listed all the businesses she runs and owns and how haaaaard it all is.Yes, Ms. Brown, it's hard. It's all so very hard.

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone
⭐ 4.7 💛 9092
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paperback: $2.53
hardcover: $1.78
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