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

4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  2,797 ratings  ·  316 reviews
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

Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Gotham (first published 2007)
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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...more
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....more
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...more
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...more
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...more
Aug 27, 2012 Matthew marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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.
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...more
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!
Apr 28, 2012 Chavonne rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Every Woman I Know
Recommended to Chavonne by: Amy, Allison
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...more
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 ( After listening to her, I had to read this book and I was not disappo...more
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...more
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...more
This book is powerful and eye-opening. As I was reading, it was a constant stream of "yup. I do that. Tell me about it. I know!" in my head. I think there are few books that cover women's experiences with such knowledge and realism. This book doesn't promise to change your life or to prevent you from ever experiencing shame again, instead it shows you how shame affects you, where shame comes from, and how to deal with it. I think most women need to read this book (except, perhaps, those rock-sta...more
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!"
Ali Prendergast
Brené Brown does an excellent job of unpacking the concept of shame, walking through examples of how it happens in our lives, and explaining the habits we can develop to work through it. The accounts she gives of women experiencing shame are all too real. Her writing is especially interesting when she breaks down common misconceptions and describes how shame is a complicated cultural phenomenon. For example, one might think that a woman who has a high level of shame resilience is just a person w...more
Juliette Williams
This review may sound strange, but it's only because the author's book and her blog/podcast have taken me into, through and out into a new place. (shift to personal experience for a moment): I've done a lot of study about shame in world culture. I've written about it, spoken to women in several countries, started a blog (but dropped it quickly, wasn't ready to do something like that yet), blah blah blah. Then I dropped it all when things got stressful and life threw some curve balls at me. Don't...more
It seems like the epidemic that no one wants to talk about. We all try to put this perfect face out to the world. Really, I am the perfect mother, my house is completely clean, I am fulfilled in my job, I am financially successful, I am a perfect size two, I have plenty of time to connect on a deeper level with my loving husband, and I have tons of friends who I share my every thought. Well, that's what we think we should be. The truth just doesn't always match our expectations.

The problem is t...more
Jean Marie
This is an excellent book discussing the role of shame primarily in women's lives, though it is also applicable to men. She gives concrete strategies for dealing with shame, including identifying our shame triggers, figuring out who our connection network is and who to connect with for various issues. Brene Brown's work is a help with figuring out how to lead an authentic life, in which we are who we are instead of trying to be something we think others want us to be.

Personally I would have pre...more
I wish I had read this book a long time ago. The information, ideas and conclusions in this book require more than just a single read through once. While I finished read the book today for the first time, this is a book which needs to be studied so that the concepts can be put into practice and shame resilience can become a honed skill in our lives. Though this book was written primarily with women in focus, both genders grow up in a culture of shame. I am glad that Brene included a brief assess...more
Kelly Deriemaeker
Ongelooflijk boeiend boek over schaamte, stereotypering en labels, body image, vooroordelen en nog veel meer. Zo treffend neergeschreven en zo herkenbaar dat ik dit boek alleen maar van harte kan aanraden. Passages gehighlight tot ik bijna geen klaar meer zag.

Must read.
I think that every single woman should read this book. I have already recommended it to many friends and family members. It is life altering. I highlighted a ton in this book!

"...I often refer to shame as the fear of disconnection-the fear of being perceived as flawed and unworthy of acceptance or belonging...the opposite of experiencing shame is experiencing empathy."

"We can never become completely resistant to shame; however, we can develop the resilience we need to recognize shame, move throu...more
After seeing Oprah's interview with Brene Brown, I decided to watch her TED talk on YouTube. She was phenomenal, so I decided to explore her work further. Brown's research on shame and its effects is nothing short of groundbreaking. This book has the potential to change lives, and I have recommended it to many people.

The book is well written, and Brown's academic training is evident. She is very concise and defines each subject she explores. She masterfully weaves stories from her research into...more
This book has been a revelation. I'm not sure if most of you have had discussions about shame but to me it's something that has never come up in conversation. And it's something I've felt frequently but misdiagnosed, as guilt or righteous anger or as my just generally being fucked up and irreparable.

But while those are the things it feels like, at its core I am feeling shame. This book is really good for opening your eyes to what's going on when you feel like someone is judging you and you eithe...more
It took me a long time to finish this book, not because it was a long book, or even because it was particularly dense, but just because the ideas in it took a long time to process. I would read a bit, spend a couple weeks mulling it over, read a bit more, etc. The ideas about shame and shame resilience presented by the author are powerful, and empowering. Although this is a book written to women, the ideas are applicable to both genders, and I highly recommend it. It has changed my life.
I like her work so much that I hardly noticed the subtitle! I will say that having read a number of her books and listened to quite a few lectures, that stories do repeat in many different sources. I found this book, like I find her work in general, to be accessible and practical. In fact, I made good use of it one a phone call that interrupted my reading. I found myself having an interest in better understanding of how shame could have adaptive advantages. I get that 21st Century Individualism...more
Nhu Luong
It is true that this book altered my perception of the world, of my family and friends around me. For instance, I learned to become more passionate, loving, forgiving and empathic to our connections when they need us. Overall, this book speaks of empathy and how to build joys and fulfillments in our life.

Nevertheless, this book is compacted with numerous interviews and personal stories about people's struggles. I feel it was a bit too much, but it supports her main ideas. Besides that, her intr...more
Jan 30, 2014 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone male or female
ONE of the MOST powerful and influential books of my life - (seriously) I have big issues with perceptions, letting go, not being vulnerable etc. and how shaming plays into our lives. This was a fabulous read and I hope to keep growing and learning from Brene Brown and her fabulous books.
furious notes below: (let's just saw I had a great workout this past week biking a ton to plow through this library book I need to own...)
37. 4 attributes of empathy
38. children learning perspective
40. "I...more
Scary good. When you read it, you will be positive that Brene was hiding in your closet recording everything. How could anyone nail all the dark things we don't talk about any better than she does? AND her advice works. I would buy copies of this and give them to everyone i know if i could afford it. Its that powerful. (and relief giving)
I loved the ideas and stories in this book. This book has helped me evaluate myself and has helped identify ways I want to improve as a person, wife, mother, and friend. I wish I had read this years ago and I recommend this book highly. I also recommend watching her TED talks. I haven't read her other books yet, but I will.
The author didn't title this book what it should be: Women and Shame. She relates a story when she was on an airplane, explaining to a seat-mate what she did, she was misunderstood to say "Women in Chains". To which, the seat-mate expressed animated interest. When she clarified, though, the woman ignored her, the rest of the flight. That could be why the title is what it is, rather than include the work shame. However, the word takes a prominent position inside the book.
She relates that shame an...more
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Which Brene Brown book to read first? 2 20 May 10, 2012 08:07PM  
  • The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate
  • Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind
  • The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions
  • One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success
  • What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety
  • Healing through the dark emotions: the wisdom of grief, fear, and despair
  • This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart
  • The Woman's Comfort Book
  • Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness
  • Life Is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful, and Live Intentionally
  • Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight
  • The Pocket Pema Chodron
  • When Food Is Love: Exploring the Relationship Between Eating and Intimacy
  • There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate
  • Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
  • Hand Wash Cold: Care Instructions for an Ordinary Life
  • Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
  • Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design
Dr. Brené Brown is a writer, researcher, and educator. She is a member of the research faculty at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work where she has spent the past ten years studying connection - specifically authenticity, belonging, and shame, and the affect these powerful emotions have on the way we live, love, parent, work and build relationships.

Dr. Brown teaches graduate...more
More about Brené Brown...
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection Men, Women & Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough Women & Shame: Reaching Out, Speaking Truths and Building Connection

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“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” 169 likes
“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!” 101 likes
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