The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I loved this book and learned a great deal from it, so the perfectionist in me has been procrastinating writing a review. How could it be good enough? Ha ha! Seriously, this book is one of the best non-fiction books I've read.
Shame is the intensely powerful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. (p. 39)
Are we flawed? Yes. Does that mean we are unworthy of the truly good things in life: love and belonging? No. (And don't believe anyone who tells you differently, even if that person is you.)
"The Gifts of Imperfection" is a concise guide (130 pp.) outlining the research of Brene Brown, writer and professor at the University of Houston. Dr. Brown avoids presenting a typical self-help list of "easy-to-follow" steps to solve the problems of perfectionism, anxiety, fear, and other things that "get in the way." In fact, she has a story about a disastrous speaking engagement where the organizer insisted that she keep it "light and breezy" for her audience:
The women in the audience just smiled, nodded, and ate their chicken. It was a train wreck.
Rather than completing a checklist, the goal is what she terms "Wholehearted" living: courage, compassion, and connection.
Dr. Brown offers 10 guideposts for the journey toward a more shame-resilient life, emphasizing that the process is meant to continue for the rest of our lives. For each guidepost, the reader is encouraged to cultivate a Wholehearted gift by letting go of something that gets in the way. For example, cultivate authenticity by letting go of what people think; cultivate creativity by letting go of comparison; cultivate laughter, song and dance by letting go of being cool and always in control. Ironically, the length of the journey, and its comprehensiveness didn't leave me with a dark and heavy feeling, (think "Gotta make the donuts..") but a more positive outlook on life. It also reminded me of what evangelist Joyce Meyer has said, "You will know the truth about yourself, and the truth will set you free."
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I originally read this book and wrote my review in August 2011. I'm re-reading it as a part of an e-course by Brene Brown.
From this week's reading, my favorite passage deals with belonging versus fitting in:
Most of us use the terms fitting in and belonging interchangeably, and like many of you, I'm really good at fitting in. We know exactly how to hustle for approval and acceptance. We know what to wear, what to talk about, how to make people happy, what not to mention--we know how to chameleon our way through the day.
One of the biggest surprises in this research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing, and, in fact, fitting in gets in the way of belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn't require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.