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I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Making the Journey from "What Will People Think?" to "I Am Enough" Paperback – December 27, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
University of Houston researcher and social worker Brown believes shame underlies the spread of depression, anxiety, eating disorders and much more, and drawing on a study of hundreds of women, she constructs a method for overcoming it. Brown defines shame as "the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging" and believes its spread has been created by conflicting and competing expectations about who women should be. Women feel shame about their appearance, about motherhood, family, money/work, health, stereotypes and trauma. Brown quotes liberally from the women she has studied and, most enlighteningly, gives examples from her own experiences juggling motherhood, career and her social life. These revelations underscore her belief in the importance of exposing shame and, through empathy, helping oneself and others move past it. She underscores the need to practice critical awareness, i.e., understanding the social forces that create shame in us can help us fight the sense of shame. Thus, Brown presents a spirited attack on the media and the beauty industry for presenting unrealistic images of women. Directing readers to focus on personal growth as opposed to unattainable perfection, Brown urges them to practice shame-resilience skills and teach them to their children. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Interviewing hundreds of women over six years, Brown was constantly faced with the shame just talking about shame induced. She explores how and why this universal human emotion is particularly present in women and how it affects behavior and relationships. She relates women's stories of shame about everything from obsession over appearance to sexual abuse, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and inadequacies as mothers, wives, and lovers. Brown offers insights and strategies for understanding shame and overcoming its power over women. She begins by defining shame and differentiating it from other emotions, and explores how shame is used and induced in the broader culture. She then identifies four elements of resilience: recognizing shame triggers, critical awareness, reaching out for help and connection with others, and speaking out about shame. She advises women on practicing courage, compassion, and connection to overcome cultures of fear, blame, and disconnection. An interesting look at a debilitating emotion that stunts the potential of too many women. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
This book will help you realize that you are not alone in your struggle and helps reframe the situation to help view ourselves in an objective light.
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 down.to.Earth 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.