The Gifts of Imperfection: Book review
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When I was seeing a therapist, he recommended that I read the book The Gifts of Imperfection, by Dr. Brené Brown. It’s taken me a year, but I’ve finally finished it and boy, what a game changer!
There were a lot of insights and smack downs I got from reading which was awesome! I highly recommend checking it out for yourself.
A Lesson On The Difference Between Shame And Guilt
To be our most authentic wholehearted selves, we need to talk about the things that get in the way. Shame and fear.
Dr. Brown describes shame as, “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging” (38). Shame has several physical descriptions as well. Your body will heat up and your mouth might go dry. Your heart starts pounding and you replay the horrible experience again and again.
That resonated with me.
I’m intimate with the emotion of shame. It has been a companion of mine for a long time, disguised as guilt. It has sabotaged my relationship with others as well as myself.
However, shame and guilt are two separate emotions. Guilt often pushes us to be better and try harder. Shame is the mental equivalent of kicking ourselves while we’re down. Guilt tells us we’ve done something bad. Shame lies by telling us we are bad.
That makes a world of difference.
The Courage To Be Vulnerable
There are several things I love about this book. Dr. Brown shares her personal experiences of dealing with shame and how we can recognize the emotion in ourselves. And once we are aware, we can take action to stop shame in its tracks.
She explains the best way to do this is by opening up to a friend, talking about shame, and being vulnerable.
I love that.
There are so many people you can’t trust your heart with no matter how much you want to. You have to be careful and she gives a whole list of criteria they should meet.
- They have to earn the right to hear it (preferably someone you’ve known for quite a while).
- Love us despite our flaws and struggles.
- Listen without inflicting their own fears and prejudices, but with compassion and understanding.
Your friend needs to be able to connect with you while staying firmly rooted.
And that’s only the first chapter!
I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this book is!
The Gifts of Imperfection goes through ten guide posts to help you recognize shame and embrace wholehearted living. Each of them explains what they are and how you can apply them. (I definitely recommend reading with a pen and paper).
The Gifts of Imperfection: 10 Guideposts
Each chapter focuses on how we can cultivate each of the following:
- Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
- Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
- A Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
- Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
- Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
- Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
- Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self Worth
- Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
- Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed to”
- Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”
Each point goes through strategies that you can use to implement these guideposts and transform your life.
Thinking back now, I’d have to say my favorite chapter of the whole book was on Guidepost 10.
I’m going to tell you right now, I’m not a dancer. I don’t like dancing in front of anybody and I don’t like looking like an idiot.
Sure, I’ll dance. In my room. Alone. With the door closed.
But never in front of anyone. (Unless I’m at a dance hall or dance party, and even then you have to drag me to go).
So, when I read the line, “I measure the spiritual health of our family by how much dancing is happening,” (119) I was dumbfounded. People actually do that for fun?
Then she shared an experience that stopped me cold.
She goes shopping with her daughter, Ellen. In the process, a favorite song pops on the radio and Ellen starts dancing. Not only that, people start staring and talking about it.
I would’ve died.
She even shares that her “immediate reaction would be to save [herself] by betraying Ellen” (122). I know that’s what I probably would’ve done.
No. Instead, she starts dancing too! Saving her daughter’s heart and her trust. Which makes me think, boy I have a long way to go… but how cool is that?
I highly recommend reading The Gifts of Imperfection. 100%. There are so many great things within its pages and I’m tempted to just go back and read it all again.
The most important thing to note is that wholehearted living is a process. She makes that very clear from the get go, that these are decisions we have to make every day in order to embrace our best selves.
We’re not perfect, and we’re never going to be. The key is to embrace that and choose every day to love ourselves and believe we are enough.
If you want to learn more about Dr. Brené Brown’s work check out her website.
Also, if you have read this book, what were some of your favorite points?
Thanks for reading and as always, have a fantastic weekend!
Brown, Brené. The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. Center City: Hazeldon Publishing, 2010. Print.