I had been wanting to read this book after seeing Brené Brown’s TED talk posted on Facebook by a colleague over the Winter Break. It was on my list, but after reading that Melicious over at The Clothes Make the Girl was having a book club on this very book, I just had to join in sooner than later.
Boy, oh boy, am I ever glad that I did! The beau wanted to read this book after me, so I tried to keep it clean and not mark it up, but I feel as if I could have underlined something on each page!
If you can’t tell from the photo, the title is The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. The tagline also states: Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life.
So that thought excited me, but also wanted to make me crawl under the covers and not come out for days. Let go of who I think I am? Embrace who I really am? How do I even know who that is? Wholehearted? What does that mean?
Brené has an extensive “About Me” on her site, but for the purpose of this review, I’ll share some of the highlights (excerpt from http://www.brenebrown.com/welcome). She is a writer and research professor at The University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work who has studied vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame for the past 10 years. Brené spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness. She poses the questions:
How do we learn to embrace our vulnerabilities and imperfections so that we can engage in our lives from a place of authenticity and worthiness? How do we cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection that we need to recognize that we are enough – that we are worthy of love, belonging, and joy?
The book has short introductory piece that is very foundational to her work and then 10 Guideposts which are relatively short looking at difference pieces of wholehearted living. Brené also includes some wonderful descriptions of definitions that are woven throughout her book. I’ll highlight each Guidepost and a few short snippets of what I got out of it. It was difficult for me to just choose a few statements, but I also want you to gain something for yourself if you choose to read it! I highly recommend this book!
- Guidepost #1: Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think–Being Vulnerable is okay. Being authentic in vulnerable situations is desired. There is something sacred about being true to yourself.
- Guidepost #2: Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfection–Perfectionism is self-destructive and addictive. It is not the same thing as striving to be your best or self-improvement. Perfectionism in my life must becoming “healthy-striving.” I must exercise Self-Compassion.
- Guidepost #3: Cultivating Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness–When we numb the dark, we numb the light. “Hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them and believing in our own abilities.” (p. 66)
- Guidepost #4: Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark–“We are hungry for joy because we are starving for gratitude.”(p. 83). Ordinary does not mean meaningless.
- Guidepost #5: Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty–We question our intuition/gut/faith because we are vulnerable to being wrong. Similarly, faith is a mystery and something that cannot be contained. LOVE the Ann Lamont quote: “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty. (p. 91–from Plan B, Further Thoughts on Faith–another book on my list this year!)
- Guidepost #6: Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison–When we create, we are cultivating meaning–cook, paint, scrapbook, garden, dance, decorate, sing–CREATE! Don’t compare your creativity–art is meant to be original!
- Guidepost #7: Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth–Saying “No” and creating margin is important to our health. Ingredients for joy and meaning should be a staple of how you spend your day. Play helps shape our brain as children–but then we grow into adults, we stop playing.
- Guidepost #8: Cultivating Calm and Stillness : Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle–Be quiet. Breathe. Listen. Create space for a quiet emotional clearing. Give yourself an anxiety detox.
- Guidepost #9: Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”–Meaning is tied to several things that are all important in us finding our own meaningful work. Don’t brush any of them under the table. Slashed titles should become the norm as we all do many things–I’m working on mine now, but it’ll be something like Educator/Wife/Encourager/Singer/Writer/Renovator/Counselor
- Guidepost #10: Cultivating Laughter, Song and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”–Fun is so important, but yet so often looked over! Dance in the kitchen. Sing at the top of your lungs. Make videos with your family. And most of all, don’t worry abut what people think!
Overall Grade: A++
Category: Self-Help/Emotional Health (Got this from the back cover! It really could fit so many categories!)
The Good: Everything. Seriously. Everything. Especially the part on DIGging deep. And Guidepost 7. and 8. Oh–and that part in 9….
The Not So Good: It’s not the easiest book to read when you lay the things she’s saying on top of your own life. It really sheds light on the dark corners and cobwebs we many times try and avoid. But as I’m learning, great and beautiful things happen in the light.
Miscellaneous: From a researcher standpoint, I love that Brené breaks down how she’s done her research at the end in the section titled: “Research Notes: For Thrill-Seekers and Methodology Junkies” Great stuff there too (if you’re into that kind of thing).