The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

This is the second Brené Brown book I have read, the first being Daring Greatly, which I read back in 2018. I took so much from the book Daring Greatly, so I also had high expectations for this book. 

The Gifts of Imperfections was written earlier in Brenè’s career, where she shares her research on Wholehearted living and how we can engage in our lives from a place of worthiness which includes courage, compassion and connection.

Through Brené’s research, she found that people who live a wholehearted life DIG deep: 

  • D: Deliberate in their thoughts and behaviors through prayer, meditation, or simply setting their intentions.
  • I: Inspired to make new and difference choices
  • G: Go for it and take action.

It’s important to find time for yourself and reflect on your actions, to be able to take the next steps towards your goals, find something you love, so you are inspired and passionate, and then take action. 

This DIG deep concept can be applied to many areas throughout your day, for example, getting lost in social media for an hour, whereas it would be better to turn your device off, take the time to think about what action would serve you best and make you feel better, then get inspired by the new task, like reading a book (or writing a blog post) and then get up to go do that. 

Making the decision and then taking action to do a task that fulfills you, is a step towards living a wholehearted life. 

No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.

Letting go of what other people think and our your own story, helps us to live true to ourselves and therefore, is another step towards living a wholehearted life. Believing that each of us are worthy now is important, not when we are thinner, become a parent, get a promotion. You are worthy and can live wholeheartedly just the way you are now.

Owning your own story helps you to live fully, without the fear of not being enough. Recognizing the signs of shame can help us to react with intention.

  1. Who do you become when you’re backed into that shame corner?
  2. How do you protect yourself?
  3. Who do you call to work through the mean-nasties or the cry-n-hides or the people-pleasing?
  4. What’s the most courageous thing you could do for yourself when you feel small and hurt?

Authenticity 

Being true to yourself is a key part of living a wholehearted life. Having the courage to be imperfect and vulnerable allows us to be ourselves in any situation. Others may feel uncomfortable with the new you, or struggle to make sense of how and why you are changing, but being authentic is better than being who you are expected to be.

Knowing we each have our own strengths and struggles in life will help you to stay compassionate towards others and showing your bravery in your life, helps others to be brave with theirs. When we believe we are enough, this helps our connections and sense of belonging. 

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.

Perfectionism

Being a perfectionist is not the true version of you. Learning to strive to not be perfect, allows you to work on becoming yourself. Don’t be afraid to put anything out into the world that is imperfect, this could be holding you back from following your dreams. 

  • Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best.
  • Perfectionism is not self-improvement.
  • Perfectionism is a self-destructive belief system.
  • Perfectionism is addictive.

Resilience

Key factors to being resilient are: resourcefulness, good at problem-solving, asking for help, believing you can achieve the goal, social support and connections with family and friends. 

Resilience: The ability to overcome adversity. 

Hope happens when we have the ability to set realistic goals, when we figure out how to achieve those goals, and when we believe that we are able to achieve those goals. 

We often feel the need to numb and take the edge off feelings that are caused by vulnerability, discomfort and pain, however, when living wholeheartedly, trying to feel the pain, staying mindful about numbing behaviors and trying to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions are some ways to overcome these feelings. Having purpose, meaning and perspective helps us to control our emotions and become less overwhelmed by our circumstances.

Gratitude and Joy

Happiness is tied into circumstances, and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude.

Gratitude without practice, is not really living with gratitude. I have been working on creating the habit to add gratitude to my evening routine, writing down 3 things I am grateful each day. Reflecting on my day and highlighting what I am grateful for, does offer a sense of peace and happiness.

A happiness or gratitude jar might be a nice family option to include the kids when they are older.

Intuition and Faith

Sometimes we get a gut feeling about something, this is intuition, we can either rely on it, or steer to gather more facts to help us make a final decision. The book Untamed spoke more of this as the Knowing, and if we trust our Knowing.

Faith is believing without seeing, living wholeheartedly requires faith and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.

Creativity 

Comparison is the thief of happiness.

Laura Williams

It’s important not to compare yourself and actions with others. Creativity helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is original and cannot be compared.

Play and Rest

An important part of wholehearted living is play, fooling around and enjoying yourself, this is as important as rest is.

A good question to ask yourself is: ‘When things are going really well in our family, what does it look like?’. The answers, which might include sleep, working out, healthy food, weekends away, being present with the kids… these are ingredients for joy and meaning which should be embraced daily.

Calm and Still

Take a deep breath before responding will slow you down and start spreading calm.
Exercise more, drink less caffeine.

Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness; it’s about creating a clearing.

Meaningful Work

We all have gifts and talents, these give us a purpose to our lives which can then be shared with others. Turning our gifts and talents into meaningful work takes a lot of commitment, and it’s crucial not to allow self-doubt to get in the way.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive! 

Laughter, Song and Dance

Letting your hair down is so good for the soul, laughing hysterically, singing out loud and dancing are medicine for life. We all need to put our vulnerabilities to one side and grant ourselves the freedom to unleash the passionate, goofy, heartfelt, and soulful expressions of who we are. 

Conclusion

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Being able to live your life knowing that you are enough and excepting that you are imperfect, vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but also knowing that you are brave, worthy of love and belonging, means you are embracing a wholehearted life.

I learned a lot about vulnerability and shame from the book Daring Greatly, I learned how to embrace my vulnerability, I don’t always succeed and I am still learning, but focusing on my values and understanding why I hold myself back allows me to confront my vulnerabilities and live a fuller, happier life. The Gifts of Imperfection shares more on wholeheartedness, and wholehearted living, I found this book more of a reminder to live in the present and live true to myself and just allow myself to be me, to live happily and wholeheartedly.

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