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Braving the Wilderness – The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone by Brené Brown

What brings mean

The world is facing the coronavirus crisis, a pandemic that has changed the life of millions of people. Everyone, including myself was experiencing emotional and psychological pressure the last months. Addressing this crisis will require a tremendous amount of courage. But the truth is that, lots of people are making the choice to protect themselves from conflict, discomfort and vulnerability by staying quiet. Which could leave them disconnected, afraid and lonely.

I’m an optimist and possibilist and I truly believe that, there lies an opportunity in every crisis. We have to better understand what it means to be lonely and how the loneliness epidemic is affecting the way we show up with one another. I assume that lots of people reflected more on their lives, feelings, anxieties and true meaning the last months. An important rethinking process is taking place within our society.

We constantly believe that we must belong to something, to someone, to somewhere. Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. We are searching desperately for belonging, setting for fitting in by seeking approval.

“It feels like something that we all crave and need in our lives.”

In an age of increased polarization and occurred pandemics, Brené Brown has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives. Experiences like courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown states

“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we really are.”

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 realize what matters the most.

By studying old data, collecting new data and by developing a theory of belonging, Brown studied and understood the vulnerability and the courage of standing alone. Brené underlies that, true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance. To brave the wilderness of uncertainty, vulnerability, and criticism, we must learn how to trust ourselves and trust others.

“We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness”.

With the trademark of research, storytelling and honesty, this book challenges everything we think we know about cultivating true belonging in our communities, organizations and culture. I recommend this book to everyone who is going through a phase of self-discovery and looking for meaning. I’m pretty sure this book will help you to sort out your thoughts and feelings more effectively.

About the author:

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the university of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation. She spent two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy. She is the author of five #1 New York times bestsellers: The Gift of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness and Dare to lead. Her motto is: “Courage over comfort” and her Ted Talk “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world with over 45 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix: The Call to Courage.

My favourite quotes:

“You are only free when you realize that you belong to no place – to every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great”.
There will be times when standing alone feels too hard, too scary, and we’ll doubt our ability to make our way through the uncertainty. Someone, somewhere, will say: "Don’t do it. You don’t have what it takes to survive the wilderness. This is when you reach deep into your wild heart and remind yourself. I am the wilderness."
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