Researcher, storyteller, and famed self-help author Brene Brown shares her wisdom from years of studying courage and vulnerability in her new book Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone.

Facing Fear

As a social scientist, Brown knows how to change the cultural conversation about isolation and belonging. And why does the conversation need to be changed? Brown says we have a “crisis of disconnection” in our society based on our own individual politics and ideologies. The core factor that compels us to be so divisive, she said in an interview with Forbes, is fear.

As human beings, we have much to fear. We fear being vulnerable and being hurt. We fear failing ourselves and failing others. We fear that we will not measure up or that we will never see our dreams come true. We fear the condemnation, criticism, and judgment of others. The more we fear, the more we push away from others and shrink into the solitude of ourselves.

Being Brave

Brown argues that the only solution to the problem of fear is having a sense of true belonging, and the key to experiencing true belonging is being brave.

Reclaiming authentic relationships and connecting with others takes courage.

In Braving the Wilderness, Brown writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.”

Becoming a Change Maker

Feeling alone, isolated, and disconnected is not a problem for any one generation more than another. Yet, Brown, 51, has a message for the over 50 crowd.

“The big change makers in our society are people who are over 50 and still actively learning and changing,” Brown said in an interview with AARP. “Midlife is when the universe grabs you by the shoulders, pulls you close and tells you, I’m not screwing around. The time you have left is finite and it’s time to be brave, it’s time to take off the armor, it’s time to stop living based on what people think of you. That’s a very serious call at my age.”

Do you find it difficult to find true belonging? What do you fear most that keeps you from forming new relationships? Have your fears changed over the years? Please join in the conversation!

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