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I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)

Telling the Truth about Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power
Written by: Brené Brown
Narrated by: Lauren Fortgang
Length: 10 hrs and 44 mins

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Publisher's Summary

The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. We spend too much precious time and energy managing perception and creating carefully edited versions of ourselves to show to the world. As hard as we try, we can't seem to turn off the tapes that fill our heads with messages like, Never good enough! and What will people think? 

Why? What fuels this unattainable need to look like we always have it all together? At first glance, we might think its because we admire perfection, but that's not the case. We are actually the most attracted to people we consider to be authentic and down-to-earth. We love people who are real; we're drawn to those who both embrace their imperfections and radiate self-acceptance. 

There is a constant barrage of social expectations that teach us that being imperfect is synonymous with being inadequate. Everywhere we turn, there are messages that tell us who, what, and how were supposed to be. So, we learn to hide our struggles and protect ourselves from shame, judgment, criticism, and blame by seeking safety in pretending and perfection. 

Based on seven years of ground-breaking research and hundreds of interviews, I Thought It Was Just Me shines a long-overdue light on an important truth: Our imperfections are what connect us to each other and to our humanity. Our vulnerabilities are not weaknesses; they are powerful reminders to keep our hearts and minds open to the reality that we're all in this together. 

As Dr. Brown writes, "We need our lives back. It's time to reclaim the gifts of imperfection - the courage to be real, the compassion we need to love ourselves and others, and the connection that gives true purpose and meaning to life. These are the gifts that bring love, laughter, gratitude, empathy and joy into our lives."

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2007 Brené Brown (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Brené Brown’s ability to explore shame and resilience with humor, vulnerability and honesty is both uplifting and liberating. If we want to change our lives, our relationships or even the world, we must start by understanding and overcoming the shame that keeps us silent. This important and hopeful book offers a bold new perspective on the power of telling our stories." (Professor Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient; Campaign Ambassador, International Campaign to Ban Landmines)
"Grounded in exceptional scholarship and filled with inspiring stories, this is one of those rare books that has the potential to turn lives around." (Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger)
" I Thought It Was Just Me can be a doorway to freedom and self-esteem for many, many readers. (Martha Beck, Ph.D., columnist, O, The Oprah Magazine, and author of Finding Your Own North Star)

What members say

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  • Dara Burwell
  • 13-03-16

Important points, anemic delivery

What was most disappointing about Brené Brown’s story?

This book makes a number of interesting and relevant points. Unfortunately it’s not a smooth read/listen – it is much longer and more repetitive than it needs to be. The book has the appearance of something that was adapted from a thesis, but wasn’t rearranged to be reader friendly. I think that Brown’s evaluation of shame vs. humiliation vs. embarrassment is very important. I just wish it had been more clearly conveyed.

Did Lauren Fortgang do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

Fortgang did a good job narrating this book. She sounded compassionate and sincere, and conveyed the emotion that I think Brown intended.

Any additional comments?

I believe the book could have been streamlined. Sharpening the points and examples and making the book about half the length would have made it far stronger.

56 of 57 people found this review helpful

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  • E. McNair
  • 12-02-17

Every time I think she's shown me at all…

I have read three of Brene Brown's other books before I read this one. I had no idea how much this one would change how I felt. In some ways I wish I had read this one first, but at the same time having already dabbled in her theories I was more familiar with what she was talking about. I will forever be changed from reading this book.

26 of 26 people found this review helpful

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  • Sherry
  • 01-09-13

Missing Brene's own Vulnerability Voice

If you are one of the squillions who have watched Brene Brown on TedTalks or Oprah's Super Soul Sunday you may empathize with my review. I missed hearing the book narrated by Brene Brown herself. Lauren Fortgang's effort was not without merit, however after having been engaged by watching Brene then buying the books I missed her delivery of her own words.

The book itself was worth the investment, I've listened twice since purchasing.

179 of 188 people found this review helpful

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  • Justyna
  • 02-01-17

Interesting but not for me

Definitely there were parts that I appreciated for being insightful and explaining things, soon the book became pretty boring and repetitive as it constantly circled around the issues of parenting and family.
I'm in my mid 20s, I'm still a student, and I have no interest in creating a family, let alone having children. A lot of the examples and discussions in the book simply weren't for me. I might re-visit it in 10-15 years when it becomes more relevant. That's really the only thing about this book that dissatisfied me, and of course that's a very subjective reason.

114 of 120 people found this review helpful

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  • Leslie A Hill
  • 09-08-11

I'm sure its great if you are a mother ....

I'm sure this book has a lot to offer to most women; unfortunately not so much for me. Most of the book focuses on motherhood and parenting.. I don't have children, so could not relate a good deal of the time and lost interest.

302 of 320 people found this review helpful

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  • Max:Wang
  • 29-07-17

Didn't think it was just women (but it is)

Didn't get any indication that this book was exclusively about women. The author is pretty much only talking about women's contexts and its often difficult to relate or even remember why I'm listening. The book itself is great, a lot of good information and good work in here but the title or subtitle should have said something about the book being specifically relevant for women.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Stacey
  • 23-07-12

Good self-help book; not well-suited for audio.

I thouroughly enjoyed Brené Brown's TED talks on vulnerability and shame; I had hoped that this book would be an expansion on those discussions by the author.
This book contains a lot of useful information and interesting anecdotes regarding overcoming shame, embracing reality, and having compassion for oneself and others. However, it is not written in a style that works well with audio. It contains many parts that I would just skim in a print book; it has reader exercises that would be more useful in a visual format; and there are parts that I would like to mark, think about, and come back to (not ealily done in this audio format).
A critique of the material is that it seems to focus primarily on women like Brown, herself: white, educated, mid-upper income, etc. Though there is a nod here and there to people who are not in those categories, it is pretty clear that this book does not do much to address the broader experience of people outside Brown's comfort zone. Then again, the audience that actually buys self-help books like this is primarily comprised of women, white, educated, mid-upper income, etc. (including me).

123 of 137 people found this review helpful

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  • Nanurala
  • 07-09-16

Such great material

I really enjoyed this book. The narrator was good however I prefer when read by Brene herself. There is so much helpful information in this book to help understand shame in our own lives and others. I will relisten to this book again soon because the material is so rich and I have so much to implement in my own life and work. Thanks Brene and support team!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Tracer McLeod
  • 12-12-12

Required Reading for Humankind

Would you listen to I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) again? Why?

I will most certainly listen again for the insight and information. But the narration should've been done by the author.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The story-like writing style

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

She did fine; I've just heard the author in interviews and I prefer the timbre of her voice.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Towards the end the author begins discussing her new research with men. While women seem to be caught in a web she finds that men are put in a box and punished when they try to escape. It reminded me of when my little brother started getting teased and bullied when he got too old (7 or 8 years old) not to stay in the box. Broke my heart again.

27 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • THoward
  • 24-02-15

The last book

Any additional comments?

I have a friend who is always saying he is looking for his last book, meaning something so good and powerful that searching for another perspective is not worth the time. I suggested I have found the last author, but not the last book. Brene Brown is moving, enlightening and so real. I have re-read her books several times. I feel like I was swallowed up as a broken soul and soothed until I could stand on my feet again. I'm not alone, I'm not perfect, I'm just me. I learned that practicing what I believe means loving myself and those around me for who they are, not what they are. Practicing each day means making my life fulfilling and happy. Practicing the art of loving without constraint, without parameters, without any restriction at all is what I want in my life. WOW! Incredible author.

I started with The Gifts of Imperfection. I listened 3 times (in a row no less!) and I have given away 20 copies of the book.

I suggest that if you are looking for your last good book then you have found your last author instead.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Bernice
  • 20-05-17

I Think it is Just Me….

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I think it might just be me, but this is not as good as the other audiobooks narrated by Brene Brown as she has her own style and delivers the stories with great humour.

Nevertheless this is a good audiobook, that discusses Brene's research on shame and in so doing helps us to have a greater understanding of shame.

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

If the book were read by the author.

What three words best describe Lauren Fortgang’s voice?

There was nothing wrong with the narration, but Brene Brown is more upbeat and really funny. The problem with the narration is that at times I could not work out if the narrator was referring to Brene or to someone in the research group.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

This is not a book that I could listen to in one sitting and some of the work takes time to reflect on.

Any additional comments?

A good audiobook filled with lots of interesting stories, but this would be better still if delivered by the author herself.

12 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • winnie
  • 05-08-15

Astounding

Should be on every single person's reading list. In one week I've overcome a massive hurdle and have started moving forward. Utterly brilliant

35 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • sam
  • 10-06-19

Great insight into shame and perfectionism

Great insight into shame especially as a shame to see how we are socially wired and made to feel from a young age, depending on your environment and parents. not much in the way of coping techniques but still a very relatable breakdown of shame and the importance of courage and vubrebiliity in order to truly connect and to begin to heal and form better relationships

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Hippo
  • 21-06-16

Life changing

Wow, this changed my perspective on life so much. As a 'shame prone' person, I've found a tremendous wealth of information and support from this book.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Candida
  • 17-04-13

life changing buy this book

This book has finally unlocked the pain I have been carrying for over 40 years. wonderful book read by a warm narrator.

21 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Vanessa L Folks
  • Swansea, Wales United Kingdom
  • 02-04-19

Well worth the listsn

Obviously one of her earlier books but a very valuable listen and resource. At first I missed having it read by Brene Brown herself, but very soon I forgot it wasn't her. The reader is gpod

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Louis Raubenheimer
  • 17-01-19

Fascinating insight into universal shame

A powerful book that plunges into the depth of the shame trap. I'm a male reader and found it incredibly illuminating. Many lessons and insights, a book that will hopefully lead to me becoming a better, more compassionate parent, partner, friend and colleague. Would highly recommend it for absolutely anyone.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Fluent Breather
  • UK
  • 23-11-15

for a female audience

I got an hour in until I definitely targeted towards a feminine audience. Didn't get this impression from the write up. would prefer a more balanced case study.

28 of 37 people found this review helpful

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  • Helen
  • 28-01-17

awesome book

i have read a lot of Brene's books. i have found them and this book very inforative. epiphanies in every chapter.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-11-19

This information will benefit everyone.

I've been slower to get upset or jump to conclusions when others act in a way that doesn't seem right. I've found myself to stop and analyse the situation. I feel like I'm more in charge of my actions / reactions - that feels good. I also feel more compassion for others. I'm slower to condemn. It just makes me feel good.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sarah
  • 31-03-18

doesn't feel like Brene's work

I love Brene Brown, but the message gets lost with this reading of her book. it's seems to be read like a novel, and not capture the heart of Brene's work.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • karen
  • 18-05-16

what I needed and wanted to hear 15 years ago

If you could sum up I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t) in three words, what would they be?

Deep compassionate insightful

What was one of the most memorable moments of I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t)?

That men go through shame just as much as women do.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

The description of what listening isn't and how empathy looks like.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

yes

Any additional comments?

Can't wait to listen to the next one.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-09-19

Gained a new perspective!

As someone with a heightened sense of self-awareness, I am aware that I am very hard on myself, and in turn impose these standards onto others. I had thought that the solution is to be kinder towards others, but Bene has offered a perspective: to be kinder to oneself first. Examples are very relatable to and points to common day to day conversations and topics.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • sojourn
  • 30-06-19

A must read! Important points explained very well

Excellent read! I'm especially impressed with the clear descriptions and real examples of how shame based behaviours still exist as a social norm. offers great self reflection topics and practical strategies to identify and address shame infused situations.
highly recommend for anyone wanting to improve self awareness, lead more courageous conversations, improve relationships and fine tune conversations to reflect your integrity. what a strong contribution to society moving forward!!
This book is a keeper! Do yourself (and your relationships) a favour and read this.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-10-19

Brilliant book.

Deeply though provoking read. Worth it for all to read, highly recommended. Would be better if narrated by Brene herself

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-09-19

It is an informative book that is well presented in entertaining way. Enjoyed listening twice.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-09-19

thought provoking

A must read for all by Brené. Lauren was a great narrator. looking forward to reading more by Brené!

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  • Rachel
  • 17-06-19

Great introduction to the subject

I had seen this book a number of times before I decided to give it a go and I am glad that I did. I wasn’t particularly interested in shame and a few of the reviews said that the subject matter was heavy going so it took me a while to decide to try it, but I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed this. I thought it was more practical than the other Brene Brown book I have read. It has inspired me to think differently about my own shame perspective.

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  • Linda Murie
  • 15-05-19

eye opening

If you are ready to face yourself, this book is very eye opening and life changing

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  • Paullette
  • 22-08-18

Game changer

I have read or listened to all of Brene's books, completed one of her courses and listened to and watched everything I can; I wish I had read this one first as I believe it is her best! I found it so relevant to me and it uncovered so many answers for me; it was like light bulb moment after light bulb moment and I look forward to practicing what I have learned.
I would recommend it to a friend and will buy a hard copy for myself and my 3 daughters.

Wasn't overly fussed with the narrator as I prefer Brene reading her own books.