Customer Reviews: I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough"
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on March 30, 2010
i have been going through major depression on and off for 7 years. i kept trying to just "get rid" of the symptoms. this last bout had me in my bed for months, not eating, not having a will to live. yes, very extreme.
i, all along, have had the strength to at least read and learn. i figured i'd die trying to heal and get to the bottom of this illness. this book came along at the perfect time for me. i had had a sneaking feeling that shame was a huge part of my problems, but didn't know how to deal with this, or what it actually meant, or how it was affecting my life, and my thinking.
Her book is a true gift; a treasure. not only is this book full of wisdom that warmed my heart, it's full of lots of hard work on her part to be as accurate as possible about something (shame) that seems so subtle and elusive. she nailed it! (her writing is style is very conversational, and easy to understand as well)
So much of this information sunk into my soul, and has healed me in many ways. On top of providing other's real and raw accounts of shame, and trying to be perfect.....yet remaining miserable, the author helps to build up our strength by showing us ways to not let shame take us down! that it's a learning process, but we really can change in small yet extremely significant ways. the thing is: if we don't know that it's shame.....we will stay stuck in our misery! this book is a key to unlock freedom to live our unique lives, because she calls it out....she speaks out!
i'm not saying i'm cured from my depression. but i will say that i am quite a few rungs up the ladder from the pit i was in. and this is largely due to the women speaking truth and reality in this book, and the author's candor.
i'm thankful for this author. that she had the desire and passion to study for over a decade about these issues. This, i believe, is going to be a huge movement in which we can learn, and then teach our children as well....
this book ,in my opinion, is like a missing puzzle piece for each person that reads. no one teaches us these things, yet they are the very things unfortunately, that drive us in our living! the information is invaluable. (it looks like she may be writing a book regarding men and shame too....looking forward to it!)
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This is an incredible book about a little-discussed subject---shame. Almost painful even to think about, the book comprehensively covers the relationship between women and shame. If you are a woman in America, you should read this book. My copy is highlighted, bookmarked, the spine is cracked and it looks like it's been through a war, but it's just been very well-read and well-used by me.

The subtitle of the book is "Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame". The book does not simply diagnose the problem with our culture, but assists women on their individual journey of processing their experiences with shame, and overcoming damage, moving to a better place of power and courage.

Apparently there are currently many shame researchers, but not much has been written about the latest research outside of academic circles. "I Thought It Was Just Me", though research-based, is written for each of us, academic or non-academic, feminist or non-feminist, religious or non-religious, in an approachable, interesting style. The material is somewhat difficult to read only because of the personal issues it triggers; other than that it is very approachable, not dry at all.

The author also discusses changing our culture, one person at a time, with the last chapters addressing how to practice courage, compassion and connection---in a culture of fear, blame and disconnection.

After reading this book I feel more empowered to be me and to stay free of shaming messages. I also feel very convicted and aware of how I have used words and looks to shame others. Of all of the non-fiction books I've read, this one has probably had the most practical impact in my life.

Highly recommended.

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on February 6, 2007
To be perfectly upfront, I would like to acknowledge that I am a friend and colleague of the author, Brené Brown. But also to be perfectly upfront, I would really appreciate her book even if I was not.

This book is powerful in its scope and impact as it lays out what shame is, how women respond to shame, and how women can respond differently to shame in order to become shame resilient.

Brené helps women identify what their shame triggers are, how to develop a critical awareness about how shame is impacted by larger forces in our lives, such as media images of extremely thin and beautiful women, how women can reach out to others, and how to learn to "speak shame."

As Brené was writing the book and I was reading early drafts, I was already learning to apply her concepts to my life. For instance, previously when I experienced a shameful moment I would curl up in a little ball of pain, constantly replay the shamming incident in my head, castigate myself over and over, and then wait for the passage of time to relieve some of my symptoms, although even years later I could get flashbacks of the event and the accompanying pain. Today, due to Brené and her book, I react very differently. I call multiple friends and share my painful story and seek out comfort, caring, and empathy. I begin to "contexualize" the shameful event, that is, I see how political, economic, and social forces have shaped my personal experiences. For instance, that expectation that women must be "superwoman" juggling kids, work, partners" perfectly, which is an unreasonable expectation that no woman can live up to. That helps put my experience into context and allow me to see the broader picture.

This book is a gift to women from a committed scholar and researcher. Although the hype on many books is that "it will change your life," this book has that potential. And it doesn't hurt that it is written in an accessible, friendly tone with many stories to illustrate her ideas that will make you both laugh and cry.

I highly recommend the book. I predict it will be one of those books you read and then go out and buy for your mother and sisters and best friend. I know I did.
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on May 21, 2014
I have enjoyed listening to Brene Brown speak online. That having been said, I have had a really difficult time with this book. I love to read. However, I am only on page 130 and I don't know if I will make it to the end. I keep wondering when the introduction/review will end and the book will begin. I mean no disrespect, truly. This feels like a personal look at the making of and a collection of quotes from people's reviews of a different book about shame. I expected a focused look at how the reader's shame can be discovered, addressed and dealt with. This is predominantly a review focused on the process she and others went through to arrive at their outcome. I would have been much, much happier with a more direct writing approach as opposed to tidbits of wisdom which seem to appear as an afterthought to their journeys. Perhaps I haven't read enough to give a fair assessment. But over 100 pages feels like a loooong intro.
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on December 24, 2007
I have referred many people to this book and gifted many copies even though I have never completely read it. You see I had the enthralling experience of taking the course Dr. Brown gave on the subject of this book "Shame and Empathy" at The Jung Center in Houston. A friend commented that she believes reading this book has changed her life forever and I understand. Please know Br. Brown and her teaching on the subject has changed mine. Men experience shame too; and this book is a must-read for men also.
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on January 5, 2014
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.
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on April 10, 2007
This is a book about shame. Resist the urge to be turned off, and at least read the rest of the review. You may become curious enough to pick up a copy of the book, and that might just change your life. That's right. Dr. Brene Brown has spent more than ten years wrestling down a topic that has kept millions of women captive by its power to isolate and immobilize. But, knowledge is power, and this book delivers a strong dose of empowering information about shame. It's the right medicine for the time.

Brown writes that shame is primarily about the fear of disconnection--the fear of being perceived as flawed and unworthy of acceptance. When you feel shame, it is an intensely personal experience. You feel alone. Yet in reality, every one of us experiences shame. While this experience is visceral and painful, it does not have to be incapacitating.

Through her extensive research, Dr. Brown has discerned how to develop shame resilience. In this book, she teaches you how to recognize shame triggers, how to develop critical awareness of shame issues, and how to destroy the power of shame through connection and empathy.

This is a real book for real women. Every one of us is affected by shame, and every one of us could find more freedom by learning how to develop shame resilience. Shame thrives on silence. But we don't have to be silent any more!

As Brown says, "if we can find the courage to talk about shame and the compassion to listen, we can change the way we live, love, parent, work and build relationships."

Fundamentally, this is a book about freedom. Shame has a hold on our lives in more ways than we realize, and Dr. Brown clearly explains what it takes to break the power of shame. This is a book to read and to pass along to as many friends as possible.

What would our world look like if every woman found the courage to speak in her own voice? I for one would like to find out.

Armchair Interviews says: An outstanding book packed with powerful and hopeful information on the pervasive problem of shame in women.
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on March 25, 2013
Upgraded my DISH package for March Madness and got the OWN channel and saw a commercial for Oprah's Super Soul Sunday interview with Brene Brown, which peaked my interest enough to make me tune in. Typically, I don't buy books Oprah recommends, only because I have found the ones I have read of hers to either be too philosophical for my taste or commericially written/trendy. And I would not have bought this one except when I watched that interviews with Brene Brown - I was very affected by what she was saying and how REAL she was. I was going to order her books even if the reviews were zero stars - based on that interview. I started with this, her first book, and it was what I needed right now and what I needed a hundred times in my life and it's absolutely a game changer for me. I have read The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner and I thought that was super powerful - and when I got these books, it was a bonus to see Harriet Lerner raving about the book in its reviews. Much like Lerner's books - this one is timeless. Women in the 50's could have read this and felt the same way I do.
Brown states in the beginning that you are going to have feelings when you read this and you are going to be uncomfortable and that was very much the case for me. I keep a journal and I found that when I started reading this I started having all these emotions and feelings and things started taking on a whole new light and I have been journaling what seems like nonstop as I go along in this book. This is the sort of book that you are going to want to go slow through and you will find yourself having AHA moments, and rereading pages over and over again and if you are like me you are going to have to stop and take a breather and process what you are discovering about yourself. To be clear - it's not philosophical, it's not over your head, it's not like A New Earth. :) It's so real, and that you will want to buy a copy for every person you know.
My favorite thing about Brene Brown in her interview was when she said that she didn't want to be a self-helper or a therapist for all her readers - but instead she just wanted to give us words and a vocabulary to better describe and understand what we are feeling. And she absolutely does that.
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on January 19, 2013
Brene Brown makes a good case for the difference between "shame" and "guilt" in this book. If you are looking for the same language that you saw on her TED conference segment, you will find more of her researcher mode here. Still, her verbal constructs are brought to life by the illustrations used and her theory begins to unfold for you. Get through this book of definitions and how they all fit together and her next book (The Gifts of Imperfection) will bring you back (forward?) to the Brene Brown voice that made her TED appearance so popular. I would highly recommend this book for a basic understanding of her work and subsequent writings.
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on February 19, 2010
This is one of the best self help books I have ever read. The author, Brene Brown, is so knowledgeable about the subject of shame and guilt and such a great story teller. I found her Blog, Ordinary Courage, first and then purchased her book. I bought it right before she launched her read along. I have also had the privilege of hearing her speak in person since I live in Houston. She is the Real Deal. Quite refreshing. Buy it, read it, log into her blog. You can learn a lot of insight way beyond the words written in the book. I highly recommend "I Thought It Was Just Me."
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