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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

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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  3,637 ratings  ·  373 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

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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Gotham (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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Jess
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.
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Shannon
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
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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
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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
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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
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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!
Matthew
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.
Bdalton
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
Chavonne
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
Caitlin
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!"
Heidi
I guess I'm in the minority here when I say I found this book to be rather the opposite of helpful. I found the tone to be one of assumption from the author, even though I know she had back up research. I don't personally think or feel the things the women in the book seem to and I found it almost degrading to be labeled as having serious shame issues simply because I am a woman. I similarly found it nearly degrading to have my identity broken down into such small bits. The author seems to speak ...more
Patty
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 (http://www.davidlose.net). After listening to her, I had to read this book and I was not disappo
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Giedra
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
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Kate
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
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Rebekah M.
Excellent! I went from not really knowing the right words to being able to define shame to now understanding it in its complexity. I also started this book not seeing how it could possibly relate to me. Dustin saw a few books by this author on my to- read shelf and happened upon this one and got it on the kindle so I read it. Yes, I see examples of shame everywhere now: in myself, in parenting, in my circle of friends. I want to share this book with everyone, not as a self-help but as a defense ...more
Robin
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
Alex Strick van Linschoten
3.5 stars. I'm new to the idea of 'shame research', and this was certainly a step or three above the usual self-help fare. Brown is actually a legitimate researcher, and that should be said upfront about her books. Parts of this were more useful than others -- I particularly found the beginning discussion of shame and how to distinguish it from other feelings very useful. I suspect that the two books that followed this one (The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be ...more
Christina "6 word reviewer" Lake
Helpful, humorous encouragement of shame resilience.
Laura H
Is life-changing too much of an exaggeration? "I have bought into the messages that are being used to shame me." That line struck something deep inside me, and this book made me look at ways people have shamed me and I have shamed others. "Awareness is knowing something exists, critical awareness is knowing why it exists, how it works, how our society is impacted by it and who benefits from it." Will definitely recommend this book to all of the women in my life. (Thanks to Linni for introducing ...more
Alison 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
Helen Farrell
Well, this is the first book of its type I have read. I was sent it by a friend who felt I might find it helpful. And yes, it is helpful to know that so many other women have feelings and have had experiences that are so painfully familiar. Shame is a very lonely feeling. It is the "intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed".

However, I do have a big issue with the fact that she only addresses shame in women - and it is definitely not exclusive to the female sex. Addition
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Tami
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
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Kathleen
For me, this is a 2.5-star book. Brene Brown writes well and offers insights into how people deal with shame. She focuses primarily on women and shame in this book; in later works, I know she expands this topic into something more general.

Her point is that shame is bad (oh, of course!) and that no one improves because of negative feelings. I'm not sure I agree 100 percent. I mean, I don't advocate people shaming others, particularly intentionally (and there are a lot of examples of that in this
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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
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John
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.
Karla Durán
Una muy buena herramienta para quienes están buscando comprender y hacer realidad la necesidad de ser personas auténticas y congruentes con quienes son y con las vidas que viven y que "quisieran vivir". Si estás en esta búsqueda, es un libro que te serviría muchísimo leer.
Angela
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
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Trent
Amazing insight on shame verses guilt. While the title and many of the stories seem directed towards women, men can take away a lot from this book.

Good Points:
- Shame and self-esteem are very different issues. We feel shame. We think self-esteem (17).

- Shame comes from outside of us—from the messages and expectations of our culture. What comes from the inside of us is a very human need to belong, to relate (20).

- Shame is all about fear. As I wrote in the introduction, we are biologically, emot
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Which Brene Brown book to read first? 2 22 May 10, 2012 08:07PM  
  • Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind
  • The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You're Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate
  • The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions
  • This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart
  • What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety
  • Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight
  • Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness
  • One Person/Multiple Careers: A New Model for Work/Life Success
  • Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair
  • Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
  • Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
  • There Is Nothing Wrong with You: Going Beyond Self-Hate
  • Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works
  • The Secret of the Shadow: The Power of Owning Your Story
  • Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body
  • The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life
  • Self-Esteem: A proven program of cognitive techniques for assessing, improving and maintaining your self-esteem
  • Healing the Shame that Binds You
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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
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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 The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage Men, Women & Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough

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“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.” 195 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!” 124 likes
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