Being brave, courageous, and also, vulnerable are challenges I continue to face and appreciate reading about. Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brené Brown is another book well worth reading, as all four of her other books have been. There’s an art to standing up for yourself, yet still being kind and gentle with others.
Through personal stories and using examples from her ample research, Brené talks about how confronting shame, embracing the desire for true belonging, and forging ahead are necessary steps for fulfillment in life.
The four main principles of the book are:
1. People are hard to hate close up. Move in.
2. Speak truth to BS. Be civil.
3. Hold hands. With strangers.
4. Strong back. Soft front. Wild heart.
So what are the characteristics of a wild heart? “The mark of a wild heart is living out the paradox of love in our lives. It’s the ability to be tough and tender, excited and scared, brave and afraid—all in the same moment. It’s showing up in our vulnerability and our courage, being both fierce and kind” (p. 155).
The title and wording of this book make me think of a movie I saw many years ago that spoke of bravery, courage, and standing up for yourself. The movie that came out in 1991 is called Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. In the film, a young woman with a passionate spirit goes against what everyone else is telling her is possible and advisable. What she does is both very daring and very dangerous. The stakes are high, but her spirit isn’t broken even after a serious accident.
She’s definitely left standing alone as she pursues her dreams. Vulnerability, bravery, and courage are necessities she doesn’t have the luxury of leaving behind. Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken is both a statement about certain horses as well as the female lead of the film. It’s also a message loud and clear in Braving the Wilderness. We can triumph over adversity if we remain unabashedly true to who we are regardless of the situation or circumstances.
For a researcher-storyteller-professor-public speaker like Brené, that’s sometimes meant wearing jeans and cowboy boots when the prescribed dress code calls for business attire and saying no to speaking engagements that would compromise her integrity because they’d be limiting what she talks about and how. For the rest of us, bravery and courage might look completely different. The point is that we discover who we truly are and refuse to deny that identity when others are upset, confused, or bothered by it.
“Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation—especially our own (p.158).”
I am often reminded of how vulnerability and courage can go hand-in-hand as I listen to the talks the women on team for the upcoming May Cursillo have given during our formation process. It is nothing short of astounding what some of these women have lived through. Their courage in sharing their witness with others is both brave and inspiring to me.