Atascadero artist and therapist Denise Braun has spent the last three years writing her debut book “The Fraud Fable: How To Be Real When You Feel Like a Fake” and released it on December 10, 2018. The book examines the fables people tell themselves and examines the origin and how to change the story.

“When I came up with the idea of ‘The Fraud Fable,’ being a therapist it’s not about the countless stories we tell ourselves, it’s where those stories come from,” Braun said, adding that many of the fables we tell ourselves were guided by someone who is older and wiser, “but many of those fables don’t serve us.”

Some of the fables people tell themselves include:

  • Find a stable job, even if you hate it, it’ll give you security.
  • Go ahead and settle; it’ll be OK.

“There are a ton of [fraud fables],” Braun said. “The risk of buying into a fable [is that] you don’t get to be your authentic you. You’re living someone else’s made-up story.”

However, as a therapist, Braun saw people rewriting their narratives, but falling back into the same story, which is something that happens when people don’t understand why they sabotage themselves. She related it to falling down the rabbit hole and not knowing how to get out.

“There’s really a ladder in the rabbit hole,” Braun said, but added that many people ignore it. She said what really helps is changing the story in the subconscious. So in her book, she includes hypnosis via exercises. There are also audio files that go with each exercise that can be found on her website.

“There’s a ton of personal development books on the market,” she said. “There’s a lot of theory, but what do you do?”

That led to Braun including the exercises to help her readers work on the origins of their fables. Those exercises include visualization and deep relaxation, which is “the way we change our fable, not only by reading the book,” Braun said. “Hopefully it helps people reconsider how they fail to be authentic.”

Braun has been a clinical marriage and family therapist for the past 10 years and is also a licensed hypnotherapist. She spent five years working as a forensic and trauma therapist.

Braun herself found she was living a fraud fable—continuing with a job that wasn’t serving her. But it wasn’t until her sister, who was dying from breast cancer, told her not to settle that she decided to make a change.

“She said, ‘You can’t settle. You can’t do something because you think it’ll keep you safe. That’s not living,’” Braun said.

After her sister, Jen, died, she took a trip to Sedona because Braun needed something. There, it came to her that she needed to change something in her life.

“[Sedona] gave me spiritual guidance and trust,” Braun said.

That happened on a Friday, the next Monday Braun gave her notice as a forensic therapist.

But it wasn’t easy.

Braun said she left a job she hated—though she brought in six figures with it—with no net. She asked herself “What can I share with the world?”

“A friend asked, “Do you believe that you can do what you need to?” Braun said. She did.

She and her family: husband, John, and daughters, Grace, Ellyse and Cece, adapted and grew closer together as they spent more time at home playing board games rather than going out. “It was the best thing I’ve ever done.”

The idea for the book came to Braun in a dream. In January 2016, Braun started writing. It took her about 4 months to write the book. She had a good friend do the initial proofreading and then she hired a professional editor to edit it. After it was edited, Braun hired a design editor to put together the book. It took nearly three years from the time Braun started writing it for her to release the final book.

“That the faith,” Braun said. “I believe it’s going to take as long as it needs to.”

Braun decided to self-publish her book after she’d been rejected 10 times by traditional publishers because she didn’t have enough followers, even though they thought it was a great book.

“If you traditionally publish, you probably won’t make as much [as self-publishing],” she said, adding the big difference between the two is that with self-publishing you outlay more money. Hustling is a big part of [self-publishing].”

And hustling she is. Her book is for sale on her website, therealdenisebraun.com, and on Amazon. She kicked off the release of her book with a book signing at Spa Central Coast in downtown Paso Robles, and has lined up an appearance