Brené Brown, “The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are”

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Reviewed by Femflection

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent many years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.

Brené is also the Founder and CEO of The Daring Way – an organization that brings her work on vulnerability, courage, shame and worthiness to organizations, schools, communities, and families.

Brené’s 2010 TEDx Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world, with over 19 million viewers.

The Gifts of Imperfection Quotes

  • “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable; exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle; and nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe that we are enough. Authenticity demands Wholehearted living and loving—even when it’s hard, even when we’re wrestling with the shame and fear of not being good enough, and especially when the joy is so intense that we’re afraid to let ourselves feel it. Mindfully practicing authenticity during our most soul-searching struggles is how we invite grace, joy, and gratitude into our lives.”
  • “If we can find someone who has earned the right to hear our story, we need to tell it. Shame loses power when it is spoken. In this way, we need to cultivate our story to let go of shame, and we need to develop shame resilience in order to cultivate our story.”
  • “Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
  • “When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness—the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging.”
  • “The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.”
  • “What does it take to live and love from a place of worthiness? How do we embrace imperfection? How do we cultivate what we need and let go of the things that are holding us back? The answers to all of these questions are courage, compassion, and connection—the tools we need to work our way through our journey.”
  • “The more entrenched and reactive we are about an issue, the more we need to investigate our responses.”
  • “Hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities.”

The Gifts of Imperfection – the Book

As the subtitle to “The Gifts of Impecfection” indicates, Brene’s intention with the book is to encourage us to let go of who we think we are supposed to be and embrace who we are. It is her guide to wholehearted living.

She says that wholehearted living is about knowing that you are enough. Yes, you are imperfect and vulnerable, but also brave and worthy of love and belonging. She explains that Wholehearted living is not a once-off choice, but instead a lifelong process or journey.

The book begins with three chapters that focus on the tools we need for a wholehearted journey — courage, compassion and connection — and the barriers that get in the way of wholehearted living.

The bulk of the book focuses on 10 guideposts that help you cultivate a wholehearted life. The guideposts are: authenticity; self-compassion; resilient spirit; gratitude and joy; intuition and trusting faith; creativity; play and rest; calm and stillness; meaningful work; and laughter, song and dance.

Each guidepost is illustrated with essays, stories, inspiring quotes, meditations, and dynamic creative exercises designed to help you develop the skills to accept your vulnerabilities with compassion and practice loving-kindness toward yourself and others.

One of the strengths of the book, among many, is Brown’s ability to turn concepts into clear, concise, meaningful and interesting stories. In every chapter, she clearly defines the guidepost with own research examples. For instance, on authenticity she writes:

“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

The Gifts of Imperfection is a beautifully written, powerful guide that you’ll keep coming back to, for inspiration, information and reminders—for the times we forget—that you are worthy precisely as you are, without striving for perfection.

If you are interested in living a Wholehearted life and letting go of perfectionism, I highly recommend you to buy the book.

Your story, our platform: If you’ve got a story and would like to share it with other Femflectors, please let us know. Femflection is all about transferring learnings to help others, be they big or subtle. We want to connect with your feelings, your learnings, your reflections or your hopes for the future – in blog or interview format. Express yourself here. Get in touch with us via anja.uitdehaag@femflection.com

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