The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

New York Times best-selling author and professor Brené Brown offers a powerful and inspiring book that explores how to cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to embrace your imperfections and to recognize that you are enough.Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to beli...

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Title:The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
Author:Brené Brown
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are Reviews

  • Lara

    You may have noticed a theme in my last couple posts. I'm rundown, overwhelmed and I realize that, while my priorities are right in my head, they aren't in reality. So the book I'm reviewing today really came at a perfect time in my own personal crisis. In fact, as I was reading along yesterday (yes, I totally procrastinated reading it due to other books taking up my precious little reading time) I thought to myself, "This book could be companion material for President Uchtdorf's talk at confere

    You may have noticed a theme in my last couple posts. I'm rundown, overwhelmed and I realize that, while my priorities are right in my head, they aren't in reality. So the book I'm reviewing today really came at a perfect time in my own personal crisis. In fact, as I was reading along yesterday (yes, I totally procrastinated reading it due to other books taking up my precious little reading time) I thought to myself, "This book could be companion material for President Uchtdorf's talk at conference!" (I'm making President Uchtdorf's talk my personal touchstone until I really get it, by the way.)(Because I really don't get it yet.)

    I devoured this book, pen in hand, and marked up much more than I usually do in any book. Starting with the very first paragraph of the introduction:

    Seriously, I sat there staring at that paragraph for a full ten minutes as I let it sink in. How did the author know? How did she know that I equate my full plate--how much I get done in a day--to my self worth? How did she know how afraid I am to show my weaknesses (especially the weaknesses I haven't fully embraced yet)? How did she know that I often don't feel loved? Or that I don't feel like I really belong anywhere? How did she know?

    And it dawned on me that maybe we all feel like this to an extent. And yet, I watch others and I am sure, absolutely sure, that they know something about living that I don't. And maybe they do...maybe they've figured out the secret that it's okay to be imperfect. But maybe they haven't.

    The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown is a book we all need to read. I admit, that whole thing about Who I Am vs. Who I Am Supposed to Be gets me every time. I think it's a fine line between embracing things I shouldn't embrace and being okay with where I am right now. I think that I should strive to be better, and maybe Who I Am is not good enough. So, I admittedly bristled a bit at the subtitle there.

    But then, like I said, I read that first paragraph, and I realized it wasn't like that at all. This is learning to let go of the unnecessary shame we carry around that says we don't measure up. It doesn't mean we can't strive to become better. In fact, I think if we can let go of the shame by embracing our imperfections, we will actually become better faster. We will become more courageous. More compassionate. More connected.

    The book is divided into 10 "guideposts" that can help us let go of unhealthy traits and embrace new, healthier ones. I particularly need to re-read Guidepost #7 "Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth" and Guidepost #9 "Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and 'Supposed To'" because sitting in my inbox right now are three e-mails that I really need to reply to. And the reply needs to be "No." But you have absolutely no idea how much anxiety even the thought of telling somebody I can't do something gives me. It's absolutely ridiculous!

    I had more insights into myself while reading this book than I have had in a really long time. Shameful really. But I will own my weaknesses. You'll see.

    Starting right now.

  • Dani (The Pluviophile Writer)

    Update:

    This book changed my life. Dramatic as it sounds, it's true.

    I wrote this on Brené's Facebook page:

    "Brené,

    I've just about finished your book "The Gifts of Imperfection" which I discovered after watching you speak on TED talks and I can honestly say that this book is helping me completely change my life.

    I suffer(ed) from a condition called Dermatillomania (

    ) and I've tried everything from therapists, medication and herbal supplements to help manage

    Update:

    This book changed my life. Dramatic as it sounds, it's true.

    I wrote this on Brené's Facebook page:

    "Brené,

    I've just about finished your book "The Gifts of Imperfection" which I discovered after watching you speak on TED talks and I can honestly say that this book is helping me completely change my life.

    I suffer(ed) from a condition called Dermatillomania (

    ) and I've tried everything from therapists, medication and herbal supplements to help manage the condition. While I have been able to make substantial progress with it I ultimately I have relapses which used to be extremely damaging to my confidence my emotional health and physical appearance. I was my worst enemy and I could beat myself up relentlessly. Everything that I was doing wasn't helping me deter the triggers which caused me to pick my skin and this book has made everything so clear to me. I knew that I needed to be nicer to myself and change the expectations that I had for myself which all evolved around perfectionism but I had no idea how or even why I had these ideas and beliefs in the first place. Your book has helped me feel worthy again and that the root of my beliefs wasn't because I was completely crazy or extremely mentally ill and for this I cannot thank you enough.

    I've found that a lot of people who suffer from this disorder have no sense of self worth and are unable to practice self-compassion. I'm on a few support groups on Facebook and I've done nothing but praise your book and push people within the group to read it. I've learned that no amount of medication or even therapy can change your inner thoughts, or gremlins as you term it, and that it does need to be practiced. I've be trying to tell those in my support group that beating themselves up has not worked thus far so it's time for them to try another tactic! Practicing compassion for themselves.

    While I know that I cannot completely rid myself of my condition I do know that I can control how I feel about it and how I treat myself in regards to it with the help of your work. I will continue to spread your work through the Dermatillomania community in hopes that your teachings will spread faster than the negative ones that currently occupy that space and help sufferers live more Wholehearted lives.

    Thank you. Truly.

    Sincerely,

    Danielle"

    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    I saw Brené Brown talk on TED talks (

    ) and she really spoke to me. I had to hear more of what she had to say. I'm a struggling perfectionist who doesn't want to feel vulnerable or weak and I want to know how to accept these feelings into my life so that I don't feel frustrated and angry about them. Looking forward to reading this book!

  • Bdalton

    I read this book after watching Brown's TED talk on vulnerability. The TED talk was shown as the last exercise for a leadership class at work. The talk was intriguing and I wanted to know more. Also, I noted that many of the comments regarding this fairly brief talk were often negative. I found the talk inspiring so I wanted to see if there was any validity to the negative comments.

    The question that I had in my mind was why was this shown at work? Does Brown suggest that people should be vulnera

    I read this book after watching Brown's TED talk on vulnerability. The TED talk was shown as the last exercise for a leadership class at work. The talk was intriguing and I wanted to know more. Also, I noted that many of the comments regarding this fairly brief talk were often negative. I found the talk inspiring so I wanted to see if there was any validity to the negative comments.

    The question that I had in my mind was why was this shown at work? Does Brown suggest that people should be vulnerable with everyone or in a work place environment? In order to be a leader, does she believe that it is necessary to be vulnerable? Upon reading this book, I believe that Brown is asserting that it is necessary to be vulnerable, but only to those who are truly part of your support network. On page 47 of the book, she writes "Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?" If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or a small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky." She also says people with high levels of shame resilience "reach out and share their stories with people they trust." She also provides a little bit of information about her breakdown/spirtual awakening and says "During the breakdown, I needed help. I needed support and handholding and advice. Thank God! Turning to my younger brother and sisters completely shifted our family dynamics. I gained permission to fall apart and be imperfect, and they could share their strength and incredible wisdom with me." So while Brown discusses the need to be able to receive help, she specifically says that is okay to be selective, and tells us that she selected her family to be her support network when she was facing a crisis.

    I was also curious how Brown defines authencity. Brown, a struggling perfectionist, defines authenticity as "the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are." Embracing who we are means accepting that we are not perfect, loving ourselves for who we are, and seeking meaningful connection. She talks about wholehearted living and says that people when overwhelmed, should DIG (Deliberate in their thoughts and behaviors through prayer, meditation, and stating their intentions; be Inspired to make new and different choices, and get Going. They should take action). She also talks about the idea of judging whether or not another person is authentic and comes to the conclusion that this is not a trait that people have or don't have - it is a practice of how we want to live. She doesn't bridge the gap between others judgments of our authenticity and being truly authentic and discuss how there can be a “disconnect”.

    Brown covers a lot of different topics rapidly. In her TED talk, she talks about being a researcher and a detail-oriented kind of person, so I thought that I would find more factual information. This book doesn't really have that but provides a good list of references in the back. Instead, this is a good refresher to ideas that many of us already know (and practice with a varying degree of success and persistence) - e.g., be mindful, seek connection, look for meaning, be grateful, experience joy. But, sometimes we all need an inspiring reminder to live our lives fully, and this book satisfies that need.

  • Ed McKeogh

    I've read more than my fair share of "self-help" literature, so I can assert with conviction that this is not a self-help book. Instead, it's a

    book. Each chapter triggered numerous "ah-Ha!" moments for me, because Dr. Brown goes a step (or two, or five) beyond the common way of looking at or framing an issue to reveal the interconnectedness of elements that stall or sabotage our efforts to live a more satisfying life. Instead of the "that doesn't quite resonate" vibe I often get from

    I've read more than my fair share of "self-help" literature, so I can assert with conviction that this is not a self-help book. Instead, it's a

    book. Each chapter triggered numerous "ah-Ha!" moments for me, because Dr. Brown goes a step (or two, or five) beyond the common way of looking at or framing an issue to reveal the interconnectedness of elements that stall or sabotage our efforts to live a more satisfying life. Instead of the "that doesn't quite resonate" vibe I often get from self-help books, Dr. Brown's perspectives ring true, and she re-labels certain attitudes and experiences in a way that's both startling and, importantly,

    She gleans her insights from her research centered on living a "wholehearted" life, which grew out of her previous (perhaps ongoing?) study of "shame." The results that Dr. Brown presents in this slim, readable book are nothing short of fascinating, and they function not as a how-to manual for quickly fixing an out-of-balance life, but as a set of powerful tools with which to cultivate a richer, more fully engaged and connected life.

  • Khadidja

    She makes it feel and seem so easy!

    the main message here is: Let go of your insecurities,expectations, shame, guilt, discomfort. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy, they are the ones who think of themselves as worthy of love. you're IMPERFECT Embrace it.

    She makes it feel and seem so easy!

    the main message here is: Let go of your insecurities,expectations, shame, guilt, discomfort. Happy people are happy because they make themselves happy, they are the ones who think of themselves as worthy of love. you're IMPERFECT Embrace it.

    i disagree. feeling pain doesn't make you grateful or make you feel joy, it's hard to give EVERYTHING with no guarantee and nothing in return. it sucks. i loved most of this book but i disagreed with the author on some points, Great quick read! i highly recommend

  • Anna

    I really like Brene Brown--she gave a terrific and funny TED talk about her research concerning the importance of vulnerability, of imperfection, of failure, and so I read her book. I think her thesis is superb, her research about shame and wholeheartedness really interesting, and the message of the book necessary to modern life. But! I can't help it. I hoped for a little more "perfectionism" in the writing (and structuring! of the book as a whole) which could have used another round or two of e

    I really like Brene Brown--she gave a terrific and funny TED talk about her research concerning the importance of vulnerability, of imperfection, of failure, and so I read her book. I think her thesis is superb, her research about shame and wholeheartedness really interesting, and the message of the book necessary to modern life. But! I can't help it. I hoped for a little more "perfectionism" in the writing (and structuring! of the book as a whole) which could have used another round or two of editing. (I'm sorry, Brene! Old habits die hard.) STILL, it is an important idea and worth reading.

    Two other wishes:

    1. That she included us in the process of her research. I'd like to see some examples and learn better or more directly how she drew her conclusions. Call me a geek. I like the science of it, and I think it would make for a more interesting read.

    2. I think she might enlarge her audience. It felt to me as though the book were written for the privileged--those employed in demanding dream jobs with financial stability and intact families. Don't those down on their luck need help with turning failure into opportunity? Not all of the book felt this way, but some of it did. I also wasn't a fan of the religious element--she seemed to enlarge the discussion for people of all faiths/no faith and then in another part return to her own. Perhaps this was not entirely bothersome as it is written from her point of view, in her voice, but these inclusions felt a little narrow and even shallow at times.

    And, one last thing: I think a lot of self-help books are written for the spa set. I am not saying this book fits into that category entirely, but it feels like many do. After all, many people can't afford to scale back and are working several jobs just to buy orange juice and gas just now. (And health insurance? The cost of prescription drugs. And, good God, the student loan! And, foreclosures.) I read somewhere that the average income for a family of four is $40,000. Is that true? If it is, ! And, of course, too, many people are out of work or have work that in no way represents who they are because they have to have a job. So. ? Sometimes I think these books are a little out of touch. And, lack gratitude in fundamental ways: financial stability, a job of one's dreams. A roof over one's head. The ability to protect/feed/use preventative care/immunize etc. and educate and nurture one's children. Well. So, I have said it. And, perhaps it is unfair. It is not wrong to also think about oneself and to grow in important ways, no matter one's circumstances. But, one place that stood out to me in this text was a trip to the mall with her daughter, not having washed her hair and thrown it back with a headband I believe it was. There are some sparkling, clean women there with their children, and her daughter begins to dance to the music as they do in their kitchen at home, as a family. She decides not to allow the judgment of these women bother her and instead dances with her daughter to the music. On the surface, sort of sweet. Combatting the shame ? maybe? being messed up and dancing in public while people at least appear to think you are nuts (maybe they don't really and that is one's made-up fantasy, who knows?). BUT. I was thinking about another reader. What about the shame/vulnerability/feelings of failure or imperfection of not being able to afford a pair of shoes for one's daughter? And, apologizing to one's daughter walking by the women with shopping bags and children with new clothes? Or, not being able to go to the mall at all? Isn't it deeply fortunate to dance while shopping and return home with plenty or all one needs? hair unwashed or not? Still, I do think the central message of Brown's book is instructive and, as I said, important. But. ? I sometimes think these books lack a sense of perspective or proportion.

  • Matt Evans

    Listening to this book, I felt like I was being lectured to by the kind of person who concludes her cell-phone's voicemail with the word, 'namaste' -- a Hindi word that means 'I acknowledge the divine in you.' Actually, 'namaste" also signifies that its user knows an exotic Asian concept-word. (Total aside, but in my experience, chronic 'namaste' sayers tend to be impatient and prone to pedantic rages, when life hits them between the eyes with two-by-fours of difficulty and stress; I don't know

    Listening to this book, I felt like I was being lectured to by the kind of person who concludes her cell-phone's voicemail with the word, 'namaste' -- a Hindi word that means 'I acknowledge the divine in you.' Actually, 'namaste" also signifies that its user knows an exotic Asian concept-word. (Total aside, but in my experience, chronic 'namaste' sayers tend to be impatient and prone to pedantic rages, when life hits them between the eyes with two-by-fours of difficulty and stress; I don't know why that is. Perhaps, like me, chronic 'namaste' sayers aspire to a higher way of life that is simply beyond their ability when they are in pain, and suffering.) Learn from me, says the word 'namaste,' let me guru you.

    Let me guru you. That’s the simplest way to understand Gifts of Imperfection. This is the kind of book that does two simultaneous, paradoxical things:

    One. Gifts of Imperfection offers hope. The hope of a little respite from the harsh, perfectionistic voice in your head that criticizes not only you but every living soul in your purview, and that seeks, simultaneously, to raise you above those whom you’re castigating and criticizing, including your very own self (which, when you consider it, is weird). That’s the first thing. And it's a good thing. Two stars for that, I say.

    Second. Gifts of Imperfection not too subtly points out that you've made a fecal mess of your life on life's carpet. The book then basically kind of grabs you by the back of your neck and pushes your nose down toward the mess; your nose hovers inches over the glistening pile, a pile the consistency of a very deep-brown chocolatey softserve, coiled, too, like softserve, and then says to you (i.e., the book does) Do Not Do That Again. But, being human, of course you're going to do it again. And when you do, expect the book to shove your nose down toward the mess again (which is highly adhesive, the pile is, and it threatens to stick).

    I felt relieved to be done with the book. It felt good to get out from under it and see the sunshine again.

  • Mohammed Abbas

    نفس الهراء والنصائح المعلبة التي تجدها في معظم كتب تنمية الذات

  • Ann Lewis

    I had to mark this as read to get if off my list. Actually I had to abort the read. Just could not relate to a word of it at all. I feel like this author is speaking a different language. I have a hard time believing anybody really CARES that much about what others think about them. It's amazing to me. A Whole book telling you it's OK if you're not who someone wants you to be?? I feel like saying "GET A LIFE!"

    I also Really had trouble with the writing. This author reminds us on almost every sing

    I had to mark this as read to get if off my list. Actually I had to abort the read. Just could not relate to a word of it at all. I feel like this author is speaking a different language. I have a hard time believing anybody really CARES that much about what others think about them. It's amazing to me. A Whole book telling you it's OK if you're not who someone wants you to be?? I feel like saying "GET A LIFE!"

    I also Really had trouble with the writing. This author reminds us on almost every single page about her vast research or of how "professional" she is. I got about half way through and still did not find a single citation or any sort of documentation of Any research. When someone says, "I researched that" and then does not show evidence of Any research, it's about as valid as saying "I found that online" and so it must be true. The author was way too busy telling us of all her accomplishments without ever telling us what Exactly She Did. Couldn't read another page. Had to abort. Sorry. Anyone out there want my copy? Please take it.

    A favorite Goodreads quote:

    “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.”

    ― Eleanor Roosevelt

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