Book Review: Braving The Wilderness

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If you’re not already familiar with Brené Brown, check out the TED Talk that made her famous here: With over 35 million views it’s one of the top 5 viewed TED talks ever.

The subtitle of this book is “The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone.” And it revolves around Brené’s exploration and understanding of the quote:

“You are only free when you realise you belong no place – you belong every place – no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” Maya Angelou 

When I began reading Braving the Wilderness, I was expecting it to be more personal like The Gifts of Imperfection – which I loved. Brené’s books seem to largely be about our individual struggles and offer variations of how to become more confident and happy through being our ‘selves’.

But Braving the Wilderness is political!

Whether Brené intended it or not, Braving the Wilderness is profoundly political – with a small ‘p’. I’m not talking about political parties or leanings, instead she looks at the big picture, what is happening in our society. Not only a statement of where the human species is failing to live up to its potential, Brené outlines what we can do about it. True to form, Brené doesn’t single out any individual, political party or creed as being to blame. In fact that is partly the point. We are all responsible for this disconnected, uncivil world – and for fixing it.

So, what has this to do with belonging?

Braving the Wilderness is a book not about ‘fitting in’, but being who we are – no matter what. These are themes Brené explored in “Daring Greatly”, but in “Braving the Wilderness” she takes it a step further, connecting our courage, authenticity and vulnerability – with what is needed in the world.

She creates a checklist to helps us with being brave and standing out – and belonging to ourselves – using the acronym BRAVING. And this is explored in the context of 4 key practices.

Brené’s paradoxical 4 step practice:

  1. People are hard to hate close up. Move in. Pointing fingers and “othering” are part of this polarised world. The recent US presidential election where people divorced and families stopped speaking to each other over which party they supported, or the high tensions around gun control are two examples she uses. It’s easy to label people who think differently as bad and wrong. Instead move closer, lean in, try to understand.
  2. Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil. Brené talks about not tolerating bullshit (and the difference between lies and bullshit!). She encourages us to be civil no matter what.
  3. Hold Hands. With Strangers. She shares her research on the power of sharing our joys and sadnesses with others – communities and strangers.
  4. Strong Back. Soft Front. Wild Heart. And finally Brené goes full circle and talks about vulnerability. Courage (strong back), vulnerability and honesty (soft front) and being ourselves (wild heart).

What else to read?

Read full book review at,is%20needed%20in%20the%20world.