Life, Politics, World issues

10 thought-provoking brené brown quotes from braving the wilderness

Social scientist Brené Brown is a qualitative grounded theory researcher, and the author of of four #1 New York Times Bestsellers. In Braving the Wilderness, which is all about belonging, she makes the case for changing our collective ways.

The inside jacket cover says:

“Brown argues that we are experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other.”

Here are 10 thought-provoking quotes I pulled from the book (which is available from Amazon here, or by order at Mill Street Books here):

1 ) On our fears & concerns

“Participants further reported feeling surrounded by “us versus them” cultures that create feelings of spiritual disconnection. When I dug deeper into what they meant by “spiritually disconnected,” the research participants described a diminishing sense of shared humanity. Over and over, participants talked about their concern that the only thing that binds us together now is shared fear and disdain, not common humanity, shared trust, respect, or love. They reported feeling more afraid to disagree or debate with friends, colleagues, and family because of the lack of civility and tolerance.”

2 ) On wilderness

“What all wilderness metaphors have in common are the notions of solitude, vulnerability, and an emotional, spiritual, or physical quest. Belonging so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone is a wilderness – an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching.”

3 ) On stepping up to the plate

“We’re going to need to intentionally be with people who are different from us. We’re going to have to sign up, join, and take a seat at the table. We’re going to have to learn how to listen, have hard conversations, look for joy, share pain, and be more curious than defensive, all while seeking moments of togetherness.

4 ) On defeating hate

“People are hard to hate close-up. Move in.”

5 ) On protecting broken systems

“When the culture of any organization mandates that it is more important to protect the reputation of the system and those in power than it is to protect the basic human dignity of the individuals who serve that system or who are served by that system, you can be certain that the shame is systemic, the money is driving ethics, and the accountability is all but dead. This is true in corporations, nonprofits, universities, governments, faith communities, schools, families, and sports programs. If you think back on any major scandal fuelled by coverups, you’ll see this same pattern. And the restitution and resolution of coverups almost always happens in the wilderness – when one person steps outside their bunker and speaks their truth.”

6 ) On civility

“Be civil.”

7 ) On leadership & culture

“If leaders really want people to show up, speak out, take chances, and innovate, we have to create cultures where people feel safe – where their belonging is not threatened by speaking out and they are supported when they make the decision to brave the wilderness, stand alone, and speak [their own truth].”

8 ) On dissent & disagreement

“When all that binds us is what we believe rather than who we are, changing our mind are challenging the collective ideology is risky. When a group or community doesn’t tolerate dissent and disagreement, it forgoes any experience of inextricable connection. There is no true belonging, only an unspoken treaty to hate the same people. This fuels our spiritual crisis of disconnection.”

9 ) On devaluing & debasing

“When a collective comes together at the expense of others – for example, to bond over the devaluation or debasing of another person or group of people, or to bond despite this – it does not heal the spiritual crisis of disconnection. In fact it does quite the opposite by feeding it. It is not true collective joy if it’s at the expense of others, and is not true collective pain if it causes others pain.”

10 ) On breaking our own hearts

“When we degrade and diminish our humanity, even in response to being degraded and diminished, we break our own wild hearts.”


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