9 months ago · Leah Fogt · 0 comments
Clients frequently ask me for recommendations of books they can read to supplement or augment the work they are doing in therapy. This is a book that I have recommended NUMEROUS times. It’s one that has been especially helpful to me as a therapist, as a woman, as a Christian, and as an American.
Through this bold and poignant exploration of human connection in the context of contemporary society, New York Times best selling author, Brené Brown shows us methods to live our lives courageously and foster healthy connections.
Brown asserts that society is currently facing a crisis of disconnection, and she presents specific strategies or “practices” (four to be precise) that challenge the status quo of disconnection and inauthenticity. She defines true belonging not as fitting in but 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 alone in the wilderness. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.” This means sometimes going on your own, even in the face of criticism or rejection. It means sometimes we must stand firm in our values, beliefs, principles, and choices even if it means solitude and vulnerability. Through research and stories, Brown, illustrates concepts in ways that challenge but do so with humor, honesty, and even some irreverence.
I personally found this book helpful in light of the present social climate in the United States, beset by tensions created by so many racial, religious, and political divisions. Brown writes, “…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.” She challenges us to resist the tendency to “sort” one another (and ourselves) into groups, which can lead to silencing, extremism, and confirmation bias. In other words, it’s unfair and unhelpful to pigeon hole others and ourselves with limiting labels. Sorting stops us from being true to ourselves and it fosters loneliness.
Through courage, vulnerability, honesty, civility, connection, and compassion we can live out the paradoxical way to freedom so wisely stated by Dr. Maya Angelou, and quoted by Brown:
“You are only free when you realize you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.”
I give this book an A.
The main reason I didn’t give this book an A+ is that there is some repetition of concepts from some of her previous books – which I loved, by the way! – I just wish there had been a little more “new material.” There are however many shining moments of truth in this book that had me exclaiming out loud in my car (as I listened to the audiobook), “Right on, Brené!”
Brown, B. (2017). Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. New York, NY: Random House.
Categories: Book Review