Recommended Reading: Braving the Wilderness

As may be noticeable throughout this blog, Brené Brown has been a particularly inspiring influence to me. Since I first heard her Ted Talk on shame and vulnerability, I've sought out, enjoyed and benefited from just about anything she's publicly created.

The work that she dedicates herself to is not only of great interest but also significant importance to anyone wishing to live a more whole, authentic life. Her natural flair for storytelling makes her years of thorough research easily accessible and her genuine, honest humanity always shines through to make her work relatable and applicable.

So yeah, basically I'd recommend all of her Ted Talks and every one of her other books.

But the one I'll stick the spotlight on for now is her latest which is titled, 'Braving the Wilderness'.

Having just re-read her book, 'Gifts of Imperfection', I refreshed the concepts of embracing our imperfect, unpolished selves and knowing and believing that we are enough exactly as we are. This ties in nicely with Braving the Wilderness' call to become aware of our need to connect, genuinely feel as though we belong and have the courage to contribute.

She defines True Belonging in Braving the Wilderness as:

'The spiritual practice of believing in and belonging to yourself so deeply that you can share your most authentic self with the world and find sacredness in both being a part of something and standing alone in the wilderness.'

We're meant to connect, to both ourselves and others and glean a true sense of belonging wherever we are. That can be such a tough thing to harness and I know I've definitely found it challenging to cultivate true belonging for a long time. But Brené beautifully shows how it's done and the path we can take to get there.

As a bit of an enthusiast for words, I love her many definitions throughout the book too. She has a brilliant way of explaining her understanding and translation for the key concepts she uses.

One of these lovely definitions was that of spirituality which I thought was helpful, as that can often be a tricky one to define:

'Spirituality is recognising and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.' 

Her book calls us to become brave in finding our feet and place in the world we live in. She implores us to 'step out from the barriers of self preservation and brave the wild.' She makes a strong case for overcoming our differences, strengthening our capacity for compassion and ultimately finding a way to navigate through conflict towards connection. 

As usual she shares very relatable insight into our behaviour around belonging and loneliness, our unwillingness to lean into emotions and vulnerable experiences and the ways in which we can take the steps to overcome these. She encourages finding more helpful methods of communication - 'We have to listen to understand in the same way we want to be understood.' and 'the most courageous, is not only to be open-minded, but to listen with desire to learn more about the other person’s perspective'.

The main ideas that emerge I think are authenticity, love and compassion, connection, open and honest communication, perspective taking, understanding and another beautiful definition in the form of civility:

'Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.… [Civility] is about disagreeing without disrespect, seeking common ground as a starting point for dialogue about differences, listening past one’s preconceptions, and teaching others to do the same. Civility is the hard work of staying present even with those with whom we have deep-rooted and fierce disagreements. It is political in the sense that it is a necessary prerequisite for civic action. But it is political, too, in the sense that it is about negotiating interpersonal power such that everyone’s voice is heard, and no-body’s is ignored.'

Overall, I think again she definitely presents an important and necessary movement, one in which we could all very much benefit from investing in.


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