Book Review: Braving The Wilderness by Brené Brown
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 – Dr Maya Angelou
For the longest time, I struggled to understand what this quote meant. I read and reread the quote and not until I read this book the second time before I really understood it (Nah, I’m not slow o, it’s just that the quote requires very deep thinking😂 ).
True belonging happens to be one of the toughest topics to have conversations about because it has a way of revealing you to you and when we realize how frail we sometimes can be, we just want to shut that path of our lives and act like it doesn’t exist but hey, we’re here to have that conversation because that’s only how we can connect to our real self and grow. I really want to see you grow and I’m pretty sure you want the same for yourself, right? Yep, so let’s dive right into.
We are hard-wired for love, connection, and belonging and when we realize we don’t belong in a place where we want to be, it leaves us with so much pain and hurt. The pain is usually stronger when we don’t belong in our families (guys, this is hard to take in). This is because, this kind of pain has the power to break the heart, spirit, and sense of worth. When we experience this, one of the following is likely to happen:
1. We live in constant pain and seek relief by numbing it and/or inflicting it on others.
2. We deny our pain and ensure we pass it on to those around us and down to our children.
3. We find the courage to own the pain and develop a level of empathy and compassion for ourselves and others that allows us to spot the hurt in the world in a unique way.
Belonging is not a function of you being in a company of people because you can be alone and belong and you can be with a group of people and still don’t belong ( e dey happen o).
True belonging only happens when we present our authentic (emphasis on authentic because many of us are not comfortable in our shell that we begin to live someone else’s life) imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.
Belong so fully to yourself that you’re willing to stand alone in a wilderness because true belonging is a wilderness and to embark on the wilderness journey, you’d need the right tool to help you navigate the wilderness and BRAVING is that tool.
Here’s how to use BRAVING as a tool to navigate the wilderness. It’s more like a checklist.
B– Boundaries: You respect my boundaries and when you’re not clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay, you ask.
R– Reliability: You do what you say you’ll do. This means staying aware of your competencies and limitations so you don’t over-promise and under-deliver.
A– Accountability: You own your mistakes, apologize, and make amends.
V– Vault: You don’t share information or experiences that are not yours to share. You shouldn’t be sharing information of others who have kept it with you in confidence. (Many folks usually build their relationship by sharing information that is not theirs to share. This, my friend, is very wrong) o wrong naw.
I– Integrity: You choose courage over comfort. You choose what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy. You choose to practice your values rather than simply professing them. Let me ask you one quick question. How wide is the gap between what you know and what you practice? You know what I’m talking about right? Close the gap. Let what you know translate to what you practice.
N– Non-judgment: I can ask for what I need and you can ask for what you need. We can talk about how we feel without judgment.
G– Generosity: You extend the most generous interpretation possible to the intentions, words, and actions of others. You give them the benefits of the doubt.
This tool above is a life tool and gush, it is tough but it is worth it in every regard.
What then is true belonging?
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.
People struggle to want to belong to a community without first trying to belong to themselves because it’s out of your inner abundance that you extend your generosity to the outside.
The price is high, but the reward is great!
Now go back to the opening quote by Maya Angelou and read it again. Does it make sense now? (If it still doesn’t, let me know in the comment section).
Because we are hard-wired for love, connection, and belonging, the more we are willing to seek out moments of collective joy and show up for collective joy and pains, the more difficult it becomes to deny our human connection even with people we may disagree with. Not only do moments of collective emotion reminds us of what is possible between people, but they also remind us of what is true about the human spirit. This connection in any given moment of it has to be real.
So you know, ‘social interaction makes us live longer, healthier lives. Neglecting to keep in close contact with people who are important to you is at least as dangerous to your health as a pack-a-day cigarette habit, hypertension, or obesity’. It doesn’t have to be a long, close interaction. Making eye contact, shaking someone’s hand, or giving someone a high-five lowers your cortisol(stress hormone) level and releases dopamine(pleasure hormone). This is one of the reasons I love physical gatherings, just to see the faces of beautiful people. It gives me pure joy 😂
In conclusion, true belonging, real connection, and real empathy require meeting real people in a real space in real-time.
Which of the BRAVING tool resonates with you? Share with us in the comment section. We’d love to read them.