Braving the Wilderness: Questioning how we interact with each other

Social scientist and storyteller Brené Brown takes us on a journey to discover our true belonging in her latest book.

by Julia Migné

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Braving the Wilderness explores the notion of true belonging and courage. © Brené Brown

Sixty-eight percent of adults in the UK say they feel lonely either often, always or sometimes, according to a 2015 nationwide survey carried out by Opinium. This feeling is reinforced among 18 to 34-year-olds with more than 80 percent of this age group admitting to experience loneliness.

In a world where it is now possible to stay in touch with people on the other side of the globe through social media, these results can sound paradoxical. Whilst trolling and ranting online have never been easier, it seems that having healthy face-to-face debates is becoming more and more challenging.

“There is a line. It’s etched from dignity. And raging, fearful people from the right and left are crossing it at unprecedented rates every single day. We must never tolerate dehumanizatio — the primary instrument of violence that has been used in every genocide recorded throughout history.” – Brené Brown

In recent years, ‘safe spaces’ within universities, for example, have been at the epicentre of many polemics and have been seen as an excuse to “silence individuals advocating views that are deemed too dangerous to be debated in a public hearing,” according to The Telegraph.

Braving the wilderness Maya Angelou INKLINE

With international politics making headlines everyday on social media, it’s easy to slowly fall into an echo chamber by hearing or reading only what we agree with and just blocking any other opinion. Going even further, sides can become so polarised that recent events such as the American elections or the Brexit referendum have literally fractured entire families.

Brené Brown is on a personal quest to “know herself as well as to understand humanity”. That is no small task but the social scientist and storyteller is determined to keep digging and questioning people around the globe to uncover the factors that allow human connection to happen.

Brene Brown INKLINE
Brené Brown is a researcher and storyteller, author of multiple books. © Brené Brown

Author of multiple books and famous around the world for her TED talk about the power of vulnerability, Brené Brown is this time focussing on the importance of true belonging and of being able to stand alone in her latest book: Braving the Wilderness.

Acknowledging the fact that we are currently facing a spiritual crisis, the American author emphasises the cynicism and distrust that are slowly dividing us further away. She explains that most of us at the moment are “either making the choice to protect ourselves from conflict, discomfort, and vulnerability by staying quiet, or picking sides”.

Fear is often at the heart of our automatic ways of thinking and it’s easy to fall into a ‘You’re either on my side or against me’ logic. Brown, however, believes that there is something deeply detrimental about that logic. If you are offended or hurt when you hear Hillary Clinton being called a b**** then surely you should be as offended to hear the same word to describe Ivanka Trump. Our political views should be irrelevant to the way we treat and acknowledge other human beings and things are rarely that dichotomic.

Offering us her insights through the data she collected during her research and through her personal experiences, Brown comes up with four practices to finally brave the wilderness and embrace our true belonging:

People are hard to hate close-up. Move in.
Speak truth to bullshit. Be civil.
Hold hands. With strangers.
Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.

If you need a bit of light to cope with the non-stop flow of negative news on your feed or just want to regain a bit of faith in humanity then this book is just what you need. Switch your open mind on and get ready to question yourself and the way you interact with others.

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