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I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame

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An affirming, revealing examination of the painful effects of shame—with new, powerful strategies that promise to transform a woman’s ability to love, parent, work, and build relationships. Shame manifests itself in many ways. Addiction, perfectionism, fear and blame are just a few of the outward signs that Dr. Brené Brown discovered in her 6-year study of shame’s effects o An affirming, revealing examination of the painful effects of shame—with new, powerful strategies that promise to transform a woman’s ability to love, parent, work, and build relationships. Shame manifests itself in many ways. Addiction, perfectionism, fear and blame are just a few of the outward signs that Dr. Brené Brown discovered in her 6-year study of shame’s effects on women. While shame is generally thought of as an emotion sequestered in the shadows of our psyches, I Thought It Was Just Me demonstrates the ways in which it is actually present in the most mundane and visible aspects of our lives—from our mental and physical health and body image to our relationships with our partners, our kids, our friends, our money, and our work. After talking to hundreds of women and therapists, Dr. Brown is able to illuminate the myriad shaming influences that dominate our culture and explain why we are all vulnerable to shame. We live in a culture that tells us we must reject our bodies, reject our authentic stories, and ultimately reject our true selves in order to fit in and be accepted. Outlining an empowering new approach that dispels judgment and awakens us to the genuine acceptance of ourselves and others, I Thought It Was Just Me begins a crucial new dialogue of hope. Through potent personal narratives and examples from real women, Brown identifies and explains four key elements that allow women to transform their shame into courage, compassion and connection. Shame is a dark and sad place in which to live a life, keeping us from connecting fully to our loved ones and being the women we were meant to be. But learning how to understand shame’s influence and move through it toward full acceptance of ourselves and others takes away much of shame’s power to harm. It’s not just you, you’re not alone, and if you fight the daily battle of feeling like you are—somehow—just not "enough," you owe it to yourself to read this book and discover your infinite possibilities as a human being.


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An affirming, revealing examination of the painful effects of shame—with new, powerful strategies that promise to transform a woman’s ability to love, parent, work, and build relationships. Shame manifests itself in many ways. Addiction, perfectionism, fear and blame are just a few of the outward signs that Dr. Brené Brown discovered in her 6-year study of shame’s effects o An affirming, revealing examination of the painful effects of shame—with new, powerful strategies that promise to transform a woman’s ability to love, parent, work, and build relationships. Shame manifests itself in many ways. Addiction, perfectionism, fear and blame are just a few of the outward signs that Dr. Brené Brown discovered in her 6-year study of shame’s effects on women. While shame is generally thought of as an emotion sequestered in the shadows of our psyches, I Thought It Was Just Me demonstrates the ways in which it is actually present in the most mundane and visible aspects of our lives—from our mental and physical health and body image to our relationships with our partners, our kids, our friends, our money, and our work. After talking to hundreds of women and therapists, Dr. Brown is able to illuminate the myriad shaming influences that dominate our culture and explain why we are all vulnerable to shame. We live in a culture that tells us we must reject our bodies, reject our authentic stories, and ultimately reject our true selves in order to fit in and be accepted. Outlining an empowering new approach that dispels judgment and awakens us to the genuine acceptance of ourselves and others, I Thought It Was Just Me begins a crucial new dialogue of hope. Through potent personal narratives and examples from real women, Brown identifies and explains four key elements that allow women to transform their shame into courage, compassion and connection. Shame is a dark and sad place in which to live a life, keeping us from connecting fully to our loved ones and being the women we were meant to be. But learning how to understand shame’s influence and move through it toward full acceptance of ourselves and others takes away much of shame’s power to harm. It’s not just you, you’re not alone, and if you fight the daily battle of feeling like you are—somehow—just not "enough," you owe it to yourself to read this book and discover your infinite possibilities as a human being.

30 review for I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This book, for me, was like how it is in college when you take your first class in psych and suddenly you see psychosis everywhere. I see shame and shaming everywhere now - in how people comment on the internet, talk about politics, treat kids, work together, tell stories about themselves... It really does pervade everything. This book didn't make me feel less alone. It did make me realize, though, that to have true empathy with someone you need to realize you aren't there to fix or better them. This book, for me, was like how it is in college when you take your first class in psych and suddenly you see psychosis everywhere. I see shame and shaming everywhere now - in how people comment on the internet, talk about politics, treat kids, work together, tell stories about themselves... It really does pervade everything. This book didn't make me feel less alone. It did make me realize, though, that to have true empathy with someone you need to realize you aren't there to fix or better them. You're there to listen, and hear what they are ashamed of, and help them with that. And recognize the same feelings (for whatever reasons you have) in yourself. But all of this - courage, compassion, connection - it's very hard in our anti-vulnerable, I'm better than you, I did everything on my own culture. It doesn't mean the work isn't worth it, though. I would only have liked to hear more on her research on men. I think we think of men as in such power and control, so we don't afford them the vulnerability and anxieties we do with women. I can only imagine the shame men feel when jobless, single, different in any way than the norm - and how much they are encouraged to keep that inside.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    A blogger friend mentioned Brene Brown after I wrote a blog post about vulnerability. My friend said in her comment that I was courageous, yet I'd written the post about how scary it was to be vulnerable. I was puzzled as to how that made me courageous. Then I read I Thought It Was Just Me and I understood better. Brown explains courage as the strength to speak your heart - and this type of courage is one of the key ways to develop and maintain shame resilience. As I read this book, I felt a bit A blogger friend mentioned Brene Brown after I wrote a blog post about vulnerability. My friend said in her comment that I was courageous, yet I'd written the post about how scary it was to be vulnerable. I was puzzled as to how that made me courageous. Then I read I Thought It Was Just Me and I understood better. Brown explains courage as the strength to speak your heart - and this type of courage is one of the key ways to develop and maintain shame resilience. As I read this book, I felt a bit like I did when I read In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development in college. Both times, I kept thinking, "It's not just me. I'm not crazy." This book made me realize I am not the only woman - not by a long shot - who struggles with shame. And it made me thankful that at least I'm aware of this struggle within me, so that I can begin to recognize my shame triggers and work towards resilience. If you read many of my Goodreads reviews, you may have noticed that I lean heavily towards fiction. Yet this is the second non-fiction book that has really captured my heart, mind and imagination. Brene Brown writes in a manner that is informative, conversational, authoritative and incredibly helpful. It made me see some of my own strength and it made me long to be someone who doesn't shame others and who tries to create an environment where shame dies instead of flourishing. If you have struggled with shame, if you have daughters you will be raising in this world that hope to shame them into being what the world wants them to be, if you just want to understand how to be a more loving, engaged, encouraging person, I highly recommend this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Ed McKeogh

    Dr. Brene Brown and her work on shame and, as an outgrowth of that research, wholehearted living have taken off, shooting into the limelight due to some TED talks, a PBS special, some thought-provoking books and a recent guest appearance on Katie Couric's new show to promote her newest book. So, after reading and enjoying The Gifts of Imperfection, I went back and read this volume. Instead of a synopsis or thinly veiled attempt at sounding studious, I thought I'd extract a few quotes that, while Dr. Brene Brown and her work on shame and, as an outgrowth of that research, wholehearted living have taken off, shooting into the limelight due to some TED talks, a PBS special, some thought-provoking books and a recent guest appearance on Katie Couric's new show to promote her newest book. So, after reading and enjoying The Gifts of Imperfection, I went back and read this volume. Instead of a synopsis or thinly veiled attempt at sounding studious, I thought I'd extract a few quotes that, while written about and for a female audience, hit home for me and that I think are representative of the importance of the work presented in this volume. Though the things that trigger shame are different for men and women, the feelings are the same. However, there is great relief in understanding the experience is universally experienced (hence, the title). For example, this quote from a letter to Dr. Brown is one that I could have written myself: "...I learned to identify what I was feeling as shame.... I learned that I am very shame-based, that I had all of the 'symptoms' ... but never really related them to the concept of shame. It's kind of like having a lot of strange and disparate symptoms but not knowing what to attribute them to. If you don't know what the disease is, you can't treat it. When painful things happened, my face would flush, my stomach would tighten, and I would want to hide. But since the situations were all different, even though my reaction might be the same, I never could specifically identify the emotion I was feeling. So I never really could deal with it. ..." (p. 122) This description struck a nerve: "There is nothing more frustrating, and sometimes frightening, than feeling pain and not being able to describe or explain it to someone. It doesn't matter if it's physical pain or emotional pain. When we can't find the right words to express our painful experiences to others, we often feel alone and scared. Some of us may even feel anger or rage and act out. Eventually, many of us shut down and either live silently with the pain or, in cases where we can't, accept someone else's definition of what we are feeling simply out of the desperate need to find some remedy." (p. 155) As someone who wisely chose to reject some damaging expectations, I found a lot of truth echoed in this passage: "There are times when our feelings, thoughts and actions relate directly to our past or current struggles. But there are certainly times when they don't. The problem arises because, at some point, most of us begin to believe the expectations about who we're supposed to be, what we're supposed to look like, what we're supposed to do, how much we're supposed to be and how little we're supposed to be. We also develop a fear of rejecting those expectations. We constantly see evidence that if we do reject these expectations, we will experience very painful disconnections and rejection. So we internalize these expectations and they become an emotional prison. Shame stands guard." (p. 228) And this section put a spotlight on some areas in which I need to work: "Shame often prevents us from presenting our real selves to the people around us--it sabotages our efforts to be authentic. How can we be genuine when we are desperately trying to manage and control how others perceive us? How can we be honest with people about our beliefs and, at the same time, tell them what we think they want to hear? How do we stand up for what we believe in when we are trying to make everyone around us feel comfortable so they won't get angry and put us down?" (p. 242) I think it's important to note that even though this book is dense with information and was written about and for women, (1) it should be required reading for men because we all of us have at least one important woman in our lives and how we relate to her matters and (2) the paperback edition I read also featured some information on her follow-up research with men and boys that proves to be very illuminating. This book gets to the core of the story behind some of our stories, offers a vocabulary for expressing important feelings and ideas, connects some important dots between seemingly unconnected conditions, and maps out a course of action across some difficult terrain that leads to healing and wholeness. I'm grateful to have found this resource.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mark Goodman

    I wanted to love this book because I love Brene Brown. Her podcast interviews with Tammie Simon and Krista Tippett as well as her TED talks have inspired me, changed me and touched me deeply. I find her to be an incredibly inspiring and courageous woman and I believe her research on Shame and vulnerability and full hearted living are changing and healing the world. That said, I was disappointed by this book. I am wondering whether she is a better teacher and storyteller and presenter than writer I wanted to love this book because I love Brene Brown. Her podcast interviews with Tammie Simon and Krista Tippett as well as her TED talks have inspired me, changed me and touched me deeply. I find her to be an incredibly inspiring and courageous woman and I believe her research on Shame and vulnerability and full hearted living are changing and healing the world. That said, I was disappointed by this book. I am wondering whether she is a better teacher and storyteller and presenter than writer. I found the book had a lot of good ideas but it did not hold together as a coherent whole all that well. The writing lacked a sharp focus, wandered too much, and did not hold my attention and heart like her talks did. I also can see that the book was published before her TED talks so maybe something shifted for her as she did those talks and perhaps her more recent writing is better. Despite this, I so support her work in the world and her courage and choice t study the unknown and unexplored topic of shame.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    After two attempts to get through this one, I just cannot do it anymore. I am still giving it 2 stars. And I'm going to explain that to you. If you believe that 'shame' is based on how others see you and whether or not you live up to those expectations, this may, indeed, be your book. In fact, if you base your entire sense of self-worth on how well you are "keeping up with the Joneses", and the disconnect between that dream and your reality is your primary source of shame, pick this one up. You ma After two attempts to get through this one, I just cannot do it anymore. I am still giving it 2 stars. And I'm going to explain that to you. If you believe that 'shame' is based on how others see you and whether or not you live up to those expectations, this may, indeed, be your book. In fact, if you base your entire sense of self-worth on how well you are "keeping up with the Joneses", and the disconnect between that dream and your reality is your primary source of shame, pick this one up. You may find something valuable. Go with my blessings, find your bliss. The extra star is for you. But here's why it doesn't work for me... Ms. Brown's definitions of 'shame': "Shame is about our fear of disconnection." "Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging." "Shame is how we see ourselves through other people's eyes." On the surface, that may sound fine. But what she describes can, in my opinion, be more accurately labeled as 'Social Anxiety','Panic', or even 'Public Humiliation'. The situations she mentions are all based on negative social interactions (forgetting to bring cookies to school, for example, and then running into a teacher and lying about it), and the physical sensations she describes are hall-marks of an anxiety or panic attack. Although I believe both Social Anxiety and Panic can render us helpless and are serious issues, they are certainly not the same thing as shame. Here's my definition of shame: SHAME is the feeling you get when your expectations for yourself are unattainably high, and you feel like a failure because you know you will never reach them. In other words: it is not about fitting in with other people.. it is about accepting ourselves as the flawed but beautiful people we already are. Fundamentally, shame is what happens after the balloons have popped and everyone else has gone home. Somewhat sadly, she DID offer up examples of actual shame from other women.. but seemed unable to make the distinction between short-lived 'I wore two different shoes to work today and everyone noticed!' embarrassment and the self-inflicted, on-going horrors of their experiences. You simply cannot compare her 'cookie' story, 'sickness' story, or even her 'I was a bad friend' story with the guilt, sadness, and TRUE shame of someone who has gone through a suicide, been the victim of sexual abuse, or has a spouse with a porn addiction... yet that is precisely what the author attempts to do. Her explanations on the verbiage were interesting, but in no way convinced me that her personal stories qualified as 'shame'. Although I love the idea of shame as a shared human experience, I remain unconvinced that this particular 'expert' is the go-to person for this topic. I could find no middle ground between her definition and my own, and therefore her 'exercises' seemed largely misguided (what is a 'shame-trigger' if shame is something we foist upon ourselves?), and her own examples incredibly shallow. This book may work for some - shared experience or not, we are all still individuals. But for those of us crafting our whips of guilt, self-doubt, and worthlessness in private... I'm afraid this book does not scratch the surface. A few last thoughts: This author's focus on sociological perspectives does not work for me, personally, and I will take care to steer clear of anything written by 'sociologists' in the future. Her diatribe, early in this book, on being more empathetic and less judgmental seemed out of place, unnecessary, and insulting (was she shaming the shamers? Or shaming the people reading this book, already riddled with feelings of inadequacy, and already sensitive to the feelings of others? I have no idea). And from experience, sharing shame stories may be a great thing, but sometimes the sharer really needs a professional ear. No matter how well meaning we may be, we are not qualified to say or do the right things to encourage healing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Nelson

    If I could, I would buy a copy of this for everyone I know...not just women, but men too. In this book Brene Brown explains about shame, how common and how destructive it is, and more importantly how to develop our "shame resilience". The suggestions in this book are powerful, doable, and potentially life changing--no--life improving!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    After hearing her Tedx talk, I wanted to explore her work further. I think of my upbringing in an extremely strict religious cult, and realize I've witnessed and experienced the damage of a shame-based culture firsthand. Although the book was originally geared towards women, so far it seems universal enough that it's worth a read by men as well.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heidi

    I guess I'm in the minority here when I say I found this book to be rather the opposite of helpful. I found the tone to be one of assumption from the author, even though I know she had back up research. I don't personally think or feel the things the women in the book seem to and I found it almost degrading to be labeled as having serious shame issues simply because I am a woman. I similarly found it nearly degrading to have my identity broken down into such small bits. The author seems to speak I guess I'm in the minority here when I say I found this book to be rather the opposite of helpful. I found the tone to be one of assumption from the author, even though I know she had back up research. I don't personally think or feel the things the women in the book seem to and I found it almost degrading to be labeled as having serious shame issues simply because I am a woman. I similarly found it nearly degrading to have my identity broken down into such small bits. The author seems to speak to her audience about helps for issues then fly in the face of her own suggestions. A good example of this is how she recognizes all of the pressures placed on women then, at the end (spoiler alert), places the responsibility for instilling shame resilience squarely on the shoulders of women. Another good example is the constant evocation of gender role shackles while also consistently using gender as a definition or excuse. It really drove me mad. I do not like this book. I don't even usually review books on this site but I felt the need. I only gave it two stars because of the useful information regarding other emotions and emotional vocabulary.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sunshine Jeremiah

    I am absolutely in love with Brene Brown's brain. This book does an excellent job of defining shame (and as different from guilt, embarrassment, humiliation, and low-self-esteem). She sources where and how shame occurs and how to escape the immobilizing impact it can have on spirit and heart. It is story-filled rather than explicitly informative which makes her work accessible to most anyone. If you are a courageous person who appreciates the value of self-awareness and personal growth for indivi I am absolutely in love with Brene Brown's brain. This book does an excellent job of defining shame (and as different from guilt, embarrassment, humiliation, and low-self-esteem). She sources where and how shame occurs and how to escape the immobilizing impact it can have on spirit and heart. It is story-filled rather than explicitly informative which makes her work accessible to most anyone. If you are a courageous person who appreciates the value of self-awareness and personal growth for individual and community, then this is a book for you.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anne Bogel

    Brené Brown was just getting rolling with this, her first book. I give you permission to skip it if you promise to read Daring Greatly and The Gifts of Imperfection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bdalton

    This is the second Brene Brown book that I have read this year. I liked it better than the first as it was more focused on her key area of research - shame, specifically shame in women. Women experience shame when they are entangled in a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectations. She lists twelve areas where women commonly experience shame: appearance and body image, motherhood, family, parenting, money and work, mental and physical health, sex, aging, religion, bei This is the second Brene Brown book that I have read this year. I liked it better than the first as it was more focused on her key area of research - shame, specifically shame in women. Women experience shame when they are entangled in a web of layered, conflicting and competing social-community expectations. She lists twelve areas where women commonly experience shame: appearance and body image, motherhood, family, parenting, money and work, mental and physical health, sex, aging, religion, being stereotyped and labeled, speaking out and surviving trauma. What makes us vulnerable to shame are the unwanted identities in these areas. Shame increases fear, blame, and disconnection. The opposite of experiencing shame is experiencing true empathy. Brene explains that the first step to growing beyond shame is to recognize our shame triggers. She says "When I first started writing on shame, I actually referred to this element of shame resilience as "Acknowledging our Vulnerabilities" rather than "Understanding Our Shame Triggers." I changed it for a couple of reasons. First, over the past two years, I received hundreds of letters and e-mails from people who are applying the strategies in this book to build shame resilience. In the vast majority of these letters, people write about the power of "discovering their shame triggers."....Second, I think people still struggle with the term vulnerability. We equate vulnerability with weakness, and, in our culture, there are very few things we abhor more than weakness. This paragraph was very helpful in terms of understanding her TED talk and previous book more fully. I like this book for many reasons. First, it links ideas well. It openly discusses the damage that gossip, lack of empathy, one-upmanship, and sympathy seeking causes. It talks about how shame and addiction go hand-in-hand. There is a range of stories from people who have been abused as children to women who are ashamed of their "class" or being faced with an unempathic comment when a child is behaving poorly. A part that resonanted is the role that the media plays in supporting a culture of shame. Brown makes valid points about the media. Perhaps this is a topic for another book. I also liked the few pages in the back that talked about making our children shame resilient, and hope that she writes a book solely on that topic.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Reading Brene Brown is like having someone standing in my face, shaking me, and saying, "You see that crazy thing you're doing? Stop it!"

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This is the third book I’ve read by Brené Brown and it might be my favorite. She has a down-to-earth way of writing that I just love. In her book I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t), Brené looks at the difference between shame and guilt, explores the triggers to these feelings, and how to recognize and overcome these strong emotions. She dives deep to get to the root of what triggers fear and shame within us and why we feel certain situations more strongly than others. She also discusses emp This is the third book I’ve read by Brené Brown and it might be my favorite. She has a down-to-earth way of writing that I just love. In her book I Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn’t), Brené looks at the difference between shame and guilt, explores the triggers to these feelings, and how to recognize and overcome these strong emotions. She dives deep to get to the root of what triggers fear and shame within us and why we feel certain situations more strongly than others. She also discusses empathy: how to be empathic and the things that stand in our way of having empathy. I loved the layout and the progression of this book. It was well researched with many examples, cited sources, and suggested reading. The message and lessons in these pages are life-altering. I highly recommend reading this book.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    I have long enjoyed dipping into Brene Brown works, usually it is a section here or a page there as a library pick up or section detailed in an article or blog post. This is my first read of a complete work and I recommend the medium of an audio book for this. I had a non-thinking task of sorting through multiple packets of photos from my dad's life to select a number to use in a book I am making to assist the staff in his care facility to know who he is, so it was a perfect audio-book day. Shame I have long enjoyed dipping into Brene Brown works, usually it is a section here or a page there as a library pick up or section detailed in an article or blog post. This is my first read of a complete work and I recommend the medium of an audio book for this. I had a non-thinking task of sorting through multiple packets of photos from my dad's life to select a number to use in a book I am making to assist the staff in his care facility to know who he is, so it was a perfect audio-book day. Shame. This is the subject. Focused on women. Focusing on ages and stages of life Even focusing on the shame that we take on board/adopt/feel when we find ourselves in carer roles for ageing loved ones. I was surprised, and grateful to have this discussed. I have several points and thoughts to ponder in regard to myself. Well worth the read. Yes, I recommend it to anyone. Yes I recommend the audio-book version.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Taylor

    Brene Brown is my spirit animal. ❤ Brene Brown is my spirit animal. ❤️

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chavonne

    I want to give this a 4.95, but as I cannot I'll have to round up. This book has already changed me. I have been trying this year to acknowledge and move away from the shame that motivates a lot of my behavior. While reading this book, I had two very applications of the idea of "sharing your story". Firstly, I admitted my anxiety and another person reflected how her not being the only feeling this way about our work helped her feel less shame. Secondly, I admitted how someone's comment at work c I want to give this a 4.95, but as I cannot I'll have to round up. This book has already changed me. I have been trying this year to acknowledge and move away from the shame that motivates a lot of my behavior. While reading this book, I had two very applications of the idea of "sharing your story". Firstly, I admitted my anxiety and another person reflected how her not being the only feeling this way about our work helped her feel less shame. Secondly, I admitted how someone's comment at work catapulted me to a shame spiral, but saying so helped stem it off pretty quickly. Both led to deeper communication at work. They felt like very powerfeul ways to understand how shame works in my life. I also reached out to three friends after reading about being present in friendships even when it's painful to hear their pain. I really think this book will help me be a better person. I think that my only concern with this book is the slow start and slower ending. It took a minute for me to become engaged (though when I got there, I was THERE) and the end became fairly repetitive. I also think that perhaps the author struggled with the purpose of this book at points. Is it for academicians? For therapists? For people wanting to just be better? At times, I wasn't sure. Still, I felt very grateful for her openness and willingness to share her own shame. Some of it was painful to read, but that's the point--shame does not feel good. But we must share our story (with the right people) in order to avoid fear and disconnection. I think that shame pops up in almost all aspects of my being in some way--as a person of size, a Black woman, a liberal, a vegan, a therapist, a married woman, a childless woman, a WOMAN. It's comforting to know it's not just me and have some tools to move forward to feeling more whole.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I learned a lot about myself reading this book. It was hard and powerful, and I think all my other high-achieving perfectionist female friends would benefit from the self-study also. I think that I will have to re-read parts of it to help me in the future. It is not a quick and easy self help book, but the kind that sparks a journey and a lot of work. When I finished, I moved on to Brown's other book, "The Gifts of Imperfection," and got a lot out of that one also. This book was a zoomed in view I learned a lot about myself reading this book. It was hard and powerful, and I think all my other high-achieving perfectionist female friends would benefit from the self-study also. I think that I will have to re-read parts of it to help me in the future. It is not a quick and easy self help book, but the kind that sparks a journey and a lot of work. When I finished, I moved on to Brown's other book, "The Gifts of Imperfection," and got a lot out of that one also. This book was a zoomed in view of how I am now, and T G of I was a study of how people live better that I hope to grow into in the future. As mentioned, this book is definitely written about women and for women and the people who support them. Men might find better self reflection in a different book. Masculine shame is only briefly touched upon here.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kristy Loeks

    I am so overwhelmed by this book. It has been life-changing for me. But I am afraid to share an honest review, because of how people who know me and read the review will judge me. But that is the whole problem with shame. Brown is a shame researcher, and her resilience theory includes the ability to 'name your shame', detach from it to understand it as a societal and widespread - not personal and individualized- issue , and then to form relationships with others, in which you can authentically dis I am so overwhelmed by this book. It has been life-changing for me. But I am afraid to share an honest review, because of how people who know me and read the review will judge me. But that is the whole problem with shame. Brown is a shame researcher, and her resilience theory includes the ability to 'name your shame', detach from it to understand it as a societal and widespread - not personal and individualized- issue , and then to form relationships with others, in which you can authentically discuss and support each other through shame struggles. And I can see why I struggle with shame - it's hard to even share that synopsis, knowing that nobody wants to touch messy feelings of shame in any way. Which leads me to despair when I think about where our society is today. Brown quotes Mavis Leno as follows - 'If you want to make a difference, the next time you see someone being cruel to another human being, take it personally. Take it personally because it IS personal.' I see so much fighting over the rights of people we've never met, which is important, but there is a reluctance to connect authentically to the people in front of us, because that it is too uncomfortable when we don't have a keyboard and thousands of miles to hide behind. As Brown points out, we are made for connection. And personally, for me, when I've attempted to form that connection, only to be rejected because others don't want to get down in the mess, it only deepens my shame and makes me become even more disconnected and withdrawn. This book has been life-changing for me, in that I now understand I'm not alone in struggling with shame. However, I think the conversation needs to be continued and expanded until it becomes okay to talk about it in public. Only then will we as a society be able to combat the problem.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Paola Quiros

    Better late than ever- I feel less alone in this "successful women" world, eye-opening on shame consequences all over the world, especially in my day to day life. Brenee makes you feel everything it's easier when you identify the root cause of your feelings, as usual, she shares best practices here. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest t fear is that we are powerful beyond measure, it's our light, not our darkness that most frightens us, we ask ourselves who am I to be bri Better late than ever- I feel less alone in this "successful women" world, eye-opening on shame consequences all over the world, especially in my day to day life. Brenee makes you feel everything it's easier when you identify the root cause of your feelings, as usual, she shares best practices here. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest t fear is that we are powerful beyond measure, it's our light, not our darkness that most frightens us, we ask ourselves who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous, actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God, you're playing small...We are all meant to SHINE" Marianne Williamson

  20. 5 out of 5

    Giedra

    Really really interesting book that teaches "shame resilience." Brown explains exactly what shame is; differentiates it from guilt, embarrassment, and humiliation; shares stories that illustrate 12 or so areas of potential shame (eg, appearance and body image, motherhood, sex, religion, career, family history, addictions); and goes through 4 elements of being resilient to shame. Her main point is that shame separates people by preventing them from being authentic with one another. I don't think Really really interesting book that teaches "shame resilience." Brown explains exactly what shame is; differentiates it from guilt, embarrassment, and humiliation; shares stories that illustrate 12 or so areas of potential shame (eg, appearance and body image, motherhood, sex, religion, career, family history, addictions); and goes through 4 elements of being resilient to shame. Her main point is that shame separates people by preventing them from being authentic with one another. I don't think I had a good understanding of what shame is in the first place. If you are in that boat, the quick definition is, the feeling you get when you feel you are not meeting some expectation that someone or society has placed on you and that you internalize to mean "I am bad" instead of thinking "I did something bad" (assuming the expectation was reasonable--lots of the expectations we feel shame about are not even reasonable....see: fashion industry). Anyway, it is most hurtful when someone points out that you are not meeting the expectation although someone can be silent and you still feel it if you think they are judging you. It was interesting also that people can be resilient to shame in some areas of their lives but quite vulnerable in others. In general I think people really don't give any thought to shaming other people--and don't really even realize they are doing it. I definitely see room for improvement in myself--not just in being resilient to feeling shame but in avoiding shaming others. I am looking forward to reading her more recent book, "Gifts of Imperfection," which is about developing authenticity through cultivating courage, exercising compassion, and nurturing connection.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patty

    One of the most amazing things on the Internet (in my opinion) is the existence of TED talks. I have been sent to this site of Ideas Worth Spreading by friends, by other librarians, and bloggers. There are a lot of useless things on the 'Net, but these videos are not useless. They are inspiring, educational and sometimes just plain fun. So I encountered Brene Brown on her TED talk thanks to Dave Lose (http://www.davidlose.net). After listening to her, I had to read this book and I was not disappo One of the most amazing things on the Internet (in my opinion) is the existence of TED talks. I have been sent to this site of Ideas Worth Spreading by friends, by other librarians, and bloggers. There are a lot of useless things on the 'Net, but these videos are not useless. They are inspiring, educational and sometimes just plain fun. So I encountered Brene Brown on her TED talk thanks to Dave Lose (http://www.davidlose.net). After listening to her, I had to read this book and I was not disappointed. Shame is not an emotion that we talk about. It is a hidden thing and I am surprised that anyone would choose to study it. However, it is apparent that shame need to be researched and that Brown is the one to do so. Brown expounds on her theory of shame resilience, on the elements of shame,on triggers for shame, on compassion, connection and courage. She gives concrete examples of how people deal with shame and how they apply shame resilience. There are questions in the book that are worth answering as you read the book. I got more than I had expected. I did not think there was much to learn about shame, but I was wrong. Brown has much to teach us about how we deal with life and the possibilities of improving our skills. I am looking forward to reading Dr. Brown's next book. I recommend this book to folks who find self-improvement books useful; to people who might want to explore the difference between shame and guilt; to people who want to know more about how our culture affects all persons. I suggest all women read this since we all deal with the elements of shame in one way or another.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bekka

    If I could give it 10 stars, I would. Such an inspirational book! I would recommend this to pretty much every woman I know, and I think men could benefit just as much. This is a real life-changing book for me, and has allowed me a window through which I can examine a lot of my own personal issues. I'll definitely be reading others by this author, and will be adding this book to my personal library.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Illuminating; details shame and shame resilience as a filter through which you can view life's experiences and a way of approaching them. Helpful insights on how to navigate everyday conversations. Perfect if you want to take a look at yourself and figure out how to create more awareness, peace and empathy in your life.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kendall

    This is one of those books I will think about very often and wish I owned and will eventually buy and wonder why it took so long and then I'll never read it again but recommend it to everyone and wish I would just sit down and reread it. That makes sense, right? 100% recommend to women (in particular) and all human beings in general. I hope Brown publishes a male-geared version in the future.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jessi

    I highly recommend this book for all women. Brené Brown's research around shame and shame resilience is practical, loving, and inspiring. This is the type of book that can lead to healing for entire generations of women stuck trying to live up the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves. It's the type of book that can teach us how to be the most compassionate and authentic people we can be.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maeve

    I love Brene Brown's work. I hope to develop shame resilience and contribute to a culture of authenticity, compassion & connection.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ana Rînceanu

    Despite the fact that the writing style is too verbose, this book has some great insight into shame and how to deal with it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I had a friend bring this book over and suggest I read it. I'm so glad she did! What an awesome read! I wish everyone could read it. I think it encompasses so much of what makes us human and shows us patterns of why we live our lives the way we do. It starts out by helping us realize that we live in a world of "shaming". With the internet, cell phones, etc we are able to shame one another at a whole new level. Stories that would once have only been told in a small circle have the ability to be s I had a friend bring this book over and suggest I read it. I'm so glad she did! What an awesome read! I wish everyone could read it. I think it encompasses so much of what makes us human and shows us patterns of why we live our lives the way we do. It starts out by helping us realize that we live in a world of "shaming". With the internet, cell phones, etc we are able to shame one another at a whole new level. Stories that would once have only been told in a small circle have the ability to be shared globally and go viral. We are bombarded with shaming advertising telling us we are not good enough (unless we buy their product). This book helped identify for me why I shame myself, what areas of my life I feel ashamed of, how do I feel shame, how do I shame others, and how can I develop "shame resilience". For me, this book helped to really define productive behaviors and damaging behaviors. This book also helped me realize that not all productive and damaging behaviors are polar opposites. Often damaging behaviors are disguised as productive, good and desirable. This book breaks them down and shows that while they may appear to be a productive behavior on the surface they are actually hurting us and keeping us further away from our authentic selves. Examples of this are: guilt vs. shame, empathy vs. sympathy, blame ourselves and others vs. holding ourselves and others accountable, etc. Before this book I might have viewed guilt and shame as synonyms. Same with empathy and sympathy. The author helps us see that guilt is rooted in what we do, while shame is rooted in what we are. When we believe we did something "bad" we can be motivated to change it. When we simply believe we ARE "bad" we are motivated to hate ourselves, cover it up, isolate ourselves, etc. and are pushed further into the "bad" behavior. Similarly, Empathy helps us connect with others and as a group move out of shame and toward change. Sympathy divides us from one another and pushes one or both groups into their own shame and leaves them alone there. She describes sympathy as someone saying "I'm over here and you're over there. I'm sorry for you and I'm sad for you. AND while I'm sorry that happened to you, let's be clear: I'm over here". I loved this description! Spot on! It also explains why in today's world when we go "sympathy seeking" by complaining on social media instead of to a trusted friend, or trying to one-up other people by saying "you think you've got it bad", we wind up feeling more alone and shameful then we did keeping it all to ourselves. When we try to set ourselves apart as being the worst or having it the worst we isolate ourselves from others because we don't give them a chance to empathize with us and they are left with only sympathy to give. She also discusses the idea of "unwanted identity". We all have different identities that we don't want people to assign to us but often we assign them to ourselves. We worry that others think we are stupid, loud, ugly, naive, lazy, cruel, etc. We connect things in our lives like overweight=lazy. Opinionated=loudmouth. Assertive=bossy. We go to great lengths to avoid these "unwanted identities" and ultimately drive ourselves crazy trying to predict what others will think in every situation and avoid it by doing something else. It's impossible. And it's actually rooted more in what we think of ourselves than in what others think of us. Mostly what any of us want is to feel like we belong. Some might describe this desire as wanting to be "normal". In chapter nine she even says that her shame research really breaks down into the power of connection and the dangers of disconnection. And this was really the thing I needed most to hear right now: "Disconnection is both the source and consequence of shame, fear and blame. Insulating, judging others, blaming, raging, stereotyping, labeling-these are all forms of disconnection. But there is another form of disconnection, one that is often more painful and confusing than all of these other forms: It is the feeling of being disconnected from ourselves. We are often so influenced by what other people think and so overwhelmed with trying to be who other people need us to be, that we actually lose touch with our sense of self. We lose our grounding. We lose our authenticity. The reason this is so painful is because our authenticity is the very foundation from which meaningful change occurs." I could keep going all night but those were my biggest take-aways. The major point of the book was that we can't shame ourselves or others into changing. Love, compassion and empathy are the only ways to produce change in the world. We need to apply the principles of compassion to ourselves, our relationships, our parenting, and all aspects of our lives if we hope to see any change. Seriously, read this book and then lets talk!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Shaunesay

    So much food for thought here about shame, it's causes, and resilience from it. I need to find my own copy so I can highlight, and work through some of the exercises myself. I thought it was odd that a book from 2007, a self-help-esque book no less, had so many holds on it at my library. It's over 10 years old now, there are at least 7 people waiting to have it after me. The friend who recommended it to me said, yes, it really is that good. I think she's right. Everyone could benefit from readin So much food for thought here about shame, it's causes, and resilience from it. I need to find my own copy so I can highlight, and work through some of the exercises myself. I thought it was odd that a book from 2007, a self-help-esque book no less, had so many holds on it at my library. It's over 10 years old now, there are at least 7 people waiting to have it after me. The friend who recommended it to me said, yes, it really is that good. I think she's right. Everyone could benefit from reading this, if you take it thoughtfully and seriously. It really made me consider my interactions with others, and their interactions with me. I've been the victim and the perpetrator, as have many of us. You might think that it doesn't apply to you, but I can't think of a single person who isn't affected in one way or another by the concepts in this book. It's not a magic fix for anything, there is no such thing, but I hope that by keeping the main ideas in mind, I can do better for myself and others in the future. I look forward to reading more of Dr. Brown's work.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Roessner

    Wow. This book is truly life changing. This is now officially my favourite non fiction novel hands down. Get a highlighter ready, because there’s so much to reflect upon and say "a-ha" to. I have been searching for a book like this for years without knowing it. Brene touches on so many aspects of how we experience shame and how we project shame into others. This book is equal parts convicting and freeing (I mean that in the best possible way). As a women shame is something I wear as a part of th Wow. This book is truly life changing. This is now officially my favourite non fiction novel hands down. Get a highlighter ready, because there’s so much to reflect upon and say "a-ha" to. I have been searching for a book like this for years without knowing it. Brene touches on so many aspects of how we experience shame and how we project shame into others. This book is equal parts convicting and freeing (I mean that in the best possible way). As a women shame is something I wear as a part of the fabric of who I am; Brene takes the silence away from the topic of shame and produces something beautiful. Her research is in depth since she had researched the topic of shame for for 10 years when writing this. If you have the chance to read this book, do it. I believe every woman should read it.

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