Book Review | Braving The Wilderness – Brené Brown

It has being an embarrassing amount of time since I last read an entire book in less than a year! I think last year I managed to just about read Little Women, The Unmumsy mum and some counselling books – in the whole year! It is clear to see that in recent years my reading for pleasure has taken a massive back seat (or nose dive) so as to buy me time to read books, scholarly articles and journals for for my studies.

I have also found that even with the best efforts; I gravitate more to documentaries, TV shows and films when I have down time and rarely feel as inclined as I would like to, to read!

This year though I am changing that. And, like many others i’m sure, I have tried so much harder to read for pleasure and it is going pretty well so far! At present I have read 2 books outside of counselling stuff and have a third I just started – it feels exciting – especially as now my course is coming to a close I have more time to read things of interest. I find I am starting to find a love again for reading for pleasure and the curiosity that has been reignited causes me to prioritise a chapter or 2 before watching things.

I will stress though (as I plan on writing mini reviews of what I am reading) that I struggle to read fiction! I try really hard, but outside of classics and Twilight, I just can’t seem to get into stuff and feel like with the small time I have to read, I much prefer to read books about mindset and behaviour…along with history/society – I like true stories, biography’s and I like motivational stuff. So, be aware when I post books I have enjoyed going forward, they will most likely be from these genres and very rarely fiction (though who knows I may surprise myself and you).

Braving The Wilderness – Brené Brown

I have wanted to read “Braving The Wilderness” by Brené Brown since seeing it last year on a couple of friends Instagram accounts. As I said, self help books and those that motivate us to do more with our lives and be our best selve,s are always very attractive to me and so I was beyond excited to have received a copy of it for Christmas from my brother in law. I finally finished it in March and it was every bit as good as I hoped.

Whats it about?

Braving the Wilderness is all about true belonging. It looks at how we try to fit in and that in various stages of our development and search for belonging, many of us will to some degree do whatever it takes to feel wanted and a part of something. But, that to be true to ourselves and to truly belong in life, we need to Brave the Wilderness – the unknown – and learn to live from our wild heart.

“…the wilderness is a metaphor, to represent everything from a vast and dangerous environment where we are forced to navigate difficult trials, to a refuge of nature and beauty where we seek space for contemplation. What all wilderness metaphors have in common are the notions of solitude, vulnerability, and an emotional, spiritual or physical quest..” (pg 36)

Brené looks at how we seek approval and seek for perfectionism. She looks at the “us v them” culture we are a part of and how to find and be our true selves in life and society.

Who Is Brené Brown?

If you haven’t heard of her before then you must know that Brené Brown is absolutely AMAZING! She is a researcher and author who works in shame and vulnerability and I just love everything I read or see from her. As I write this I am actually wondering why I haven’t read more of her stuff yet, but I assure you they are on my list!

She has some TED talks she has done if you are curious to learn more, as well as some videos on Netflix and then an array of books that look at the areas of shame and vulnerability. Through her work she helps us to dare to be more, take risk, embrace joy and, challenge fitting in to true belonging.

I find her quite funny in a lot of the things I have watched, read and listened to and when she talks about her marriage and motherhood it is very relatable.

What I loved the most…

I loved everything about this book. Braving the Wilderness educated me to understand diversity more and so much about moral exclusion and the dehumanising of others. There were some powerful lessons in there to analyse prejudices or biases, learn from history and wake up to what is happening in the world.

I also loved how she speaks about fully embracing joy in our lives and how we often diminish pain or feel guilty for feeling a fullness of joy because there are always examples of people worse off. This part really spoke to me as I have seen it often in my grief said by others – an expectation that I should some how cheer up because others are worse off. Or how you are almost fearful of being happy and content when so many bad things are happening, but we learn in this book; “the more we diminish our own pain, or rank it compared to what others have survived, the less empathic we are to everyone. When we surrender our own joy to make those in pain feel less alone or to make ourselves feel less guilty or seem more committed, we deplete ourselves of what it takes to feel fully alive and fuelled by purpose… the goal is to get to the place where we can think ‘I am aware of what’s happening, the part I play and how I can make it better, and that doesn’t mean I have to deny the joy in my life’…”! I loved that perspective and balance to feel our pain, feel fully alive and also have empathy for those suffering. And then, if we can do something we do it.

I loved how she talks about social media too – our relationship with it and how it can create divisions and loneliness if we don’t take a reality check at times.

There are so many great and wonderful things in this book that will challenge how you see the world and feel about things. But. braving the wilderness means courage. It means sharing our pain and being vulnerable. It means taking risks and getting to know people and showing up for them in ways many of us don’t. It means challenging what we are been told sometimes or what we think we already know.

It really helped me to understand more about anger and emotion and, with it understand others in their pain. It empowered me to be my self and not apologetic for my imperfections. She says towards the end:

“You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself…true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world!” 

I hope you might pick this book up and have a read and dare to Brave The Wilderness in your own life. It has opened my mind, put into words things I have often thought about and it has motivated me to be me and challenge myself.

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