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29 Brené Brown Quotes for Inner Child Work

Updated: Mar 27

“Our stories of worthiness—of being enough—begin in our first families.” - Brené Brown

man and daughter

Brené Brown’s work has been a huge influence on both my personal life and on my work here at the Mother Wound Project. In everything she creates, I find more wholehearted wisdom to tuck in my pocket and carry ahead.

In this blog post I’m sharing 29 of Brené’s quotes that I believe would be a welcome addition to any trauma healing or recovery toolkit. I think they are especially helpful for self-parenting and inner child work.

Every single one of these quotes by Brené has served me at some point along the way as I have done the work of healing my own mother wound. I hope they’ll be as helpful for you as they have been for me.

Belonging & Worthiness Quotes

1. “As a child I never felt like I belonged in my family.” - Brené Brown

2. “I have no doubt, however, that when it comes to our sense of love, belonging, and worthiness, we are most radically shaped by our families of origin —what we hear, what we are told, and perhaps most importantly, how we observe our parents engaging with the world.” - Brené Brown

3. “From the very beginning of my research on shame, I’ve always collected data on parenting and paid close attention to how research participants talked about being parented and about parenting. The reason is simple: Our stories of worthiness—of being enough—begin in our first families. The narrative certainly doesn’t end there, but what we learn about ourselves and how we learn to engage with the world as children sets a course that either will require us to spend a significant part of our life fighting to reclaim our self-worth or will give us hope, courage, and resilience for our journey.” - Brené Brown

4. “It’s as simple and complicated as this: If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.” - Brené Brown

5. “Love and belonging are irreducible needs of all men, women, and children. We’re hardwired for connection—it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives. The absence of love, belonging, and connection always leads to suffering.” - Brené Brown

6. “We have to belong to ourselves as much as we need to belong to others. Any belonging that asks us to betray ourselves is not true belonging.” - Brené Brown

Guilt & Shame Quotes

1. “Most of us can remember shaming events from childhood that felt defining. But more than likely we remember them because we didn’t process those experiences with parents who were open to talking about shame and committed to helping us cultivate shame resilience.” - Brené Brown

2. “Shame is so painful for children because it is inextricably linked to the fear of being unlovable.” - Brené Brown

3. “Shame is the birthplace of perfectionism.” - Brené Brown

4. “Shame is the fear of disconnection—it’s the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal that we’ve not lived up to, or a goal that we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection. I’m unlovable. I don’t belong.” - Brené Brown

5. “The adults I interviewed who were raised by parents who used shame as a primary parenting tool had much more difficulty believing in their worthiness than the participants who experienced shame occasionally and were able to talk about it with their parents.” - Brené Brown

6. “We feel guilty when we hold up something we’ve done or failed to do against our values and find they don’t match up. It’s a psychologically uncomfortable feeling, but one that’s helpful.” - Brené Brown

7. “Guilt is the discomfort we feel when we evaluate what we’ve done or failed to do against our values. It can drive positive change and behavior.” - Brené Brown

Compassion & Empathy Quotes

1. “Compassion is fueled by understanding and accepting that we’re all made of strength and struggle—no one is immune to pain or suffering. Compassion is not a practice of “better than” or “I can fix you”—it’s a practice based in the beauty and pain of shared humanity.” - Brené Brown

2. “In our saddest moments, we want to be held by or feel connected to someone who has known that same ache, even if what caused it is completely different.” - Brené Brown

3. “In simple terms, the empathy I’m talking about is understanding what someone is feeling, not feeling it for them. If someone is feeling lonely, empathy doesn’t require us to feel lonely too, only to reach back into our own experience with loneliness so we can understand and connect. Affective empathy, feeling something along with the person who is struggling, is a slippery slope toward becoming overwhelmed and not being able to offer meaningful support.” - Brené Brown

4. “The antidote to shame is empathy. If we reach out and share our shame experience with someone who responds with empathy, shame dissipates.” - Brené Brown

5. We can respond empathically only if we are willing to be present to someone’s pain. If we’re not willing to do that, it’s not real empathy.” - Brené Brown

6. “We need to know we’re not alone—especially when we’re hurting.” - Brené Brown

7. “Boundaries are a prerequisite for compassion and empathy. We can’t connect with someone unless we’re clear about where we end and they begin. If there’s no autonomy between people, then there’s no compassion or empathy, just enmeshment.” - Brené Brown

Acceptance & Self-Love Quotes

1. “Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (good grades, good manners, nice appearance, sports prowess, rule following, people pleasing).” - Brené Brown

2. “Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfection. Perfection is an unattainable goal.” - Brené Brown

3. “Belonging starts with self-acceptance." - Brené Brown

4. “Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can be cultivated between two people only when it exists within each one of them—we can love others only as much as we love ourselves.” - Brené Brown

5. “Sometimes owning our pain and bearing witness to struggle means getting angry. When we deny ourselves the right to be angry, we deny our pain.” - Brené Brown

Truth & Courage Quotes

1. “The broken-hearted are the bravest among us—they dared to love.” - Brené Brown

2. “Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” - Brené Brown

3. “Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support.” - Brené Brown

4. “Much of the beauty of light owes its existence to the dark. The most powerful moments of our lives happen when we string together the small flickers of light created by courage, compassion, and connection and see them shine in the darkness of our struggles.” - Brené Brown

5. “After fifteen years of this work, I can confidently say that stories of pain and courage almost always include two things: praying and cussing. Sometimes at the exact same time.” - Brené Brown

Looking for more Brené Brown awesome sauceness? Here’s just a few of our favorite resources by her here at the Mother Wound Project:


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Stephi Wagner, MSW's 60-day mother wound healing journal is here! If you like what Stephi shares on Instagram, you won't want to miss this. Mother wound recovery here you come!

reclaim - 60-day mother wound journal


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