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Brené Brown's Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

September 12, 2017 | Charlotte Donlon

 

During an appointment with the first therapist I ever met with, I asked him if there’s something wrong with me because I’ve never had a best friend who lasted more than a couple of years. He said, “No. Of course not. Plenty of people don’t have a lifelong best friend. We grow and change so much over time, and it’s normal for relationships to come and go.” During another appointment, we talked about loneliness. And that’s when he broke the news to me: “Some people have a greater sense of loneliness and aloneness. You are one of those people. It’s a blessing and it’s a curse.”

 

Now, more than 13 years after those appointments, I’m a lot less insecure about my friendships. I’m also way more comfortable in my loneliness and aloneness. And while I’ve been managing pretty well in these areas, Brown’s book and her latest research are nourishment for my mind and soul.

 

Early on in Braving the Wilderness, Brené Brown defines “true belonging.” She writes:

True belonging is 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. True belonging doesn’t require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are.

 

Brown unpacks this definition throughout the rest of the book. She invites readers to hold onto the idea of paradox while exploring what “true belonging” means in their lives.

 

Every chapter of Braving the Wilderness holds A-ha moments that speak to situations I face and think about often. She offers helpful information to help me answer certain questions that have been rattling around in my head. Some of those questions she addresses are:

  1. How do I navigate the current political climate without isolating friends and family and neighbors?
  2. How do I parent children who seem to have inherited my blessing/curse my therapist told me about?
  3. How do I hold space for others without losing myself?
  4. How do I engage social media in a healthy way?
  5. What are the best ways to offer others love, belonging, and joy?
  6. How do I stand in my desert places with courage?

 

Brown packs new research, new theories, and plenty of personal experiences and examples into Braving the Wilderness. I’ll continue to turn to, highlight, underline, and dog-ear these pages and read these words in the coming weeks, months, and years.

 

Charlotte lives in Homewood with her husband and their two children. She’s earning an MFA in creative writing from Seattle Pacific University, and she does freelance writing and copywriting. You can find her online at www.charlottedonlon.com and on Twitter at @charlottedonlon. You can sign up for her newsletter about books and writing here

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