Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I Thought It Was Just Me - Brené Brown

I Thought It Was Just Me
Title: I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame
Author: Brené Brown
Publication Date: 2007
Pages: 305
Genre: Self-Help / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I'm a big fan of Brené Brown's work.
Date Completed: 5/31/18

Summary: Brené Brown's research about shame will be seminal. Her influence is already wide-reaching as so many people resonate with what she's learned. 

What I Thought: I've been exposed to Brené Brown's work through a lot of avenues, but I've never actually read any of her books before this. Somehow, that seems kind of insane to me, but it's true. My goal is to read through her recent work, starting with this one. I heard her say once in an interview that her work makes the most sense in order because it follows the path of her own growth, so that's what I'm doing. 

When I taught Critical Thinking, we spent a chunk of time talking about emotional intelligence and also about moral sentiments. Included in those conversations were discussions about shame, guilt, and how those sentiments affect us. Brown's work around these ideas totally changed how I taught those subjects. In fact, I incorporated a lot of content from this very book into my last semester because I started reading it in February and then didn't finish before my library loan ran out and I got sent to the back of the waiting list again.

Sidebar: it thrills me that there are waiting lists for Brown's work. Her writing is easy to read, but the content is not really "feel good" material. Brown jokes about how people respond when she tells them she researches shame for a living. I feel a modicum of that when I think about how much I enjoyed reading about shame. It's a weird thing to be so excited about exploring.

This book is part of my 2018 TBR Challenge!
It's simple to understand why people are engaged, though; we all experience shame. Thus, Brown's exploration of its mechanics and how to overcome it are powerful tools in developing stronger emotional intelligence and coping mechanisms. 

Reading this work made me very excited to read her later books. In her most recent books, she's moved on to some other, tangentially related areas of study and those are the books I'm most excited to get my hands on. I'm especially excited/nervous to read her work on vulnerability because it's something I don't feel particularly good at, yet I recognize its importance in strong relationships. 

No matter who you are, I think you could benefit from reading Brown's work. She focuses here on largely how shame affects women, but there is plenty of material that is applicable to men as well. Her words are research-based while still being practical and easy to read. 

Quotes I Loved:

  • "Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging."
  • "Shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive behaviors than it is to be the solution."
  • "Recognizing we’ve made a mistake is far different than believing we are a mistake."
  • "Shame is about the fear of disconnection. When we are experiencing shame, we are steeped in the fear of being ridiculed, diminished or seen as flawed. We are afraid that we’ve exposed or revealed a part of us that jeopardizes our connection and our worthiness of acceptance."
  • "If you put shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, shame loses power and starts to fade. Empathy creates a hostile environment for shame—it can’t survive."
  • "Real empathy takes more than words—it takes work."

Rating: ★★★★☆
Will I Re-Read: Y/N

A Reduced Review: Brown's powerful research on shame is relevant to everyone on the planet. Despite being a presentation of academic information, this book is easy and enjoyable to read. 

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