Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

Mariel Witmond
Mariel Witmond

19 December, 2018

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

I was joking with one of my best friends recently about how we both think we are Brene Brown’s biggest fans ever – at which point we realised that everyone must feel that way! I’ve read all of her books, but when I heard that her new book would be all about belonging, I knew I had to read it.

Belonging is a touchy subject for me. Having never really lived anywhere for more than 5 years until I moved to London, I spent my childhood moving from one place to another, making friends and then leaving them, reinventing myself in each new location. I became something of a chameleon – able to “fit in” almost anywhere, but never feeling like I truly belonged anywhere.

Though Brene has touched on belonging in her other books, highlighting that true belonging can not exist without complete acceptance of who we truly are, in Braving the Wilderness she dives deep into that primal need to be a part of something because nobody wants to brave the wild alone. Redefining what it means to belong, the main take-away for me was that we need both vulnerability and courage for braving the wilderness – and you cannot have one without the other; the vulnerability in order to show up and the courage to stand alone, because at the end of the day who you really belong to is yourself. We must face our fears and show up as we are in order to find our belonging, knowing that true belonging isn’t something external to us.‘True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.’

Touching on our shared humanity and how inextricably connected we all are, she highlights how it is our misguided pain that turns us to hate and separation and how imperative it is for us to come back to ourselves and each other with compassion, curiosity, love, kindness…all those things born of vulnerability. Though she goes deeper into each one, her four practices for belonging really speak for themselves:

  1. People are hard to hate close up. Move in.
  2. Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.
  3. Hold hands with strangers.
  4. Strong back, soft front, wild heart.

‘True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in both being a part of something, and in standing alone when necessary. But 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.’ Read more at

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