Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Brown, C. Brené The gifts of imperfection: let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who. The Gifts of Imperfection encourages us to accept ourselves for who we are: our unique gifts Read here the summary (also available in PDF). I created this Day E-Course in spired by one of my favorite books, The Gifts of. Imperfection, by Dr. Brene Brown. Training to be a Daring Way facilitator with.
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ciples: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be TM. I appreciate you creating time The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're. The gifts of imperfection: let go of who you think you're supposed to be and embrace who you are / by Brené Brown. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. Editorial Reviews. From Publishers Weekly. Brown, author or I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't), again urges us to expose and expel our insecurities in order .
On top of trying to manage feeling like a complete imposter, I was terrified about the format. I was recently brought in to talk with a group of corporate leaders who were trying to manage a difficult reorganization in their company. Most of us are drawn to warm, down-to-earth, honest people, and we aspire to be like that in our own lives. Draft 1 included this line: I need your bio. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. The moms who stopped and shared their stories of imperfection and vulnerability were practicing courage.
The central theme of The Gifts of Imperfection is that of people who live wholeheartedly. Brene Brown says that most of us do would love to live a life true to who we are. What stands in the way is the pressure to conform. But we conforming means giving up who we really are, we feel inauthentic and too weak to live honestly. If you want to have more and more days in which you are authentic, you need:. Being authentic means writing your own story Click To Tweet. Courage and compassion are the way to authenticity.
Courage to speak your mind and allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of others. Compassion means to realize that you are not alone, and that everyone struggles exactly the way you do. By relating to the struggles of others, you also acknowledge your own, and it will become easier to open and find support.
Also read: Similar to what she also writes in Daring Greatly , Brene Brown says that perfectionism is a shield revolving around the fear shame. Perfectionist strive for perfection behind the assumption that if they can only be perfect then they will avoid any shame and criticism.
Perfectionism is addictive and can lead to a paralysis. Brene has two suggestions:. The author talks about resilience, and says that hopes underpins resilience. You can learn hope by practicing it. To move closer to your goals, make smaller goals that you can reach along the way, and take it little by little. As you develop positive habits , it will then become natural.
Also read Grit by Angela Duckworth. Many thinks that gratitude is a feeling that follows a positive experience. Gratitude is something we practice and that will make our life happier. Cultivating Self-Compassion Letting go of perfectionism. First of all, two things: To overcome perfectionism, practice self-compassion which according to Dr.
Kristin Neff consists of three elements: Guidepost 3: Cultivating a Resilient Spirit Letting go of numbing and powerlessness. Resilient people do several things differently. However, cultivating a hope of this kind should always go hand in hand with critical awareness. Guidepost 4: Cultivating Gratitude and Joy Letting go of scarcity and fear of the dark. Guidepost 5: Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith Letting go of the need for certainty. In her dictionary, these are not mutually exclusive, but incremental: Guidepost 7: Cultivating Play and Rest Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.
Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection. They are likely to fester and eat away at our worthiness. I think we should be born with a warning label similar to the ones that come on cigarette packages: If you trade in your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: Yes, there can be authenticity growing pains for the people around us, but in the end, being true to ourselves is the best gift we can give the people we love.
When I let go of trying to be everything to everyone, I had much more time, attention, love, and connection for the important people in my life. My authenticity practice can be hard on Steve and the kids—mostly because it requires time, energy, and attention.
But the truth is that Steve, Ellen, and Charlie are engaged in the same struggle. We all are. Stand on your sacred ground. Saying this little mantra helps me remember not to get small so other people are comfortable and not to throw up my armor as a way to protect myself. Get Inspired: Courage is contagious. If authenticity is my goal and I keep it real, I never regret it.
I might get my feelings hurt, but I rarely feel shame. I get going by making authenticity the priority. How do you DIG Deep? The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself. To celebrate, I decided to facilitate an eight-week read-along of the book on my blog. I called it the Shame.
Less Joy. Full read-along. Basically, the read-along was a Web-based book club.
We covered one chapter per week, and I offered posts, podcasts, discussions, and creative arts exercises along the way. The read-along is now on my blog, and people still use it—reading through the book with a group or friend is so much more powerful.
Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking. In fact, shame is the birthplace of perfectionism. I loved her response: I know shame is a daunting word. And one of the ways it sneaks into our lives is through perfectionism.
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame. Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports.
Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it. Healthy striving is self- focused—How can I improve?
Perfectionism is other-focused—What will they think? Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. I put these three insights together to craft a definition of perfectionism because you know how much I love to get words wrapped around my struggles!
Perfectionism is a self-destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, live perfectly, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame. Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect.
Perfection is an unattainable goal. Additionally, perfectionism is more about perception—we want to be perceived as perfect.
Again, this is unattainable—there is no way to control perception, regardless of how much time and energy we spend trying. So rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to live, look, and do everything just right. Feeling shamed, judged, and blamed and the fear of these feelings are realities of the human experience. When we become more loving and compassionate with ourselves and we begin to practice shame resilience, we can embrace our imperfections.
It is in the process of embracing our imperfections that we find our truest gifts: I think perfectionism exists along a continuum. We all have some perfectionistic tendencies. For others, perfectionism can be compulsive, chronic, and debilitating, similar to addiction. In doing so, I finally understand in my bones the difference between perfectionism and healthy achieving.
Exploring our fears and changing our self-talk are two critical steps in overcoming perfectionism. Like most women, I struggle with body image, self-confidence, and the always-complicated relationship between food and emotions. Perfectionism self-talk: Nothing fits. I need to be different than I am right now to be worthy of love and belonging. I want to feel better and be healthier.
I want to figure this out for me. I can do this. It led to peanut butter. I think of it as practicing imperfection. For example, right after I started working on this definition, some friends dropped by our house. Don and Julie are at the door! What a nice surprise!
Who cares about the house! So, if we want to live and love with our whole hearts, how do we keep perfectionism from sabotaging our efforts? When I interviewed women and men who were engaging with the world from a place of authenticity and worthiness, I realized that they had a lot in common regarding perfectionism.
First, they spoke about their imperfections in a tender and honest way, and without shame and fear. Second, they were slow to judge themselves and others. That is until two years ago, when I found Dr. Self-Compassion A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.
Kristin Neff is a researcher and professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She runs the Self- Compassion Research Lab, where she studies how we develop and practice self-compassion. According to Neff, self-compassion has three elements: Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.
Common humanity: Taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time. One of the many things that I love about Dr. Many of us think that being mindful means not avoiding painful emotions. Her definition reminds us that mindfulness also means not over-identifying with or exaggerating our feelings. I recently e-mailed an author to ask if I could quote her work in this book.
I included the exact passage that I wanted to include so that she could make an informed choice. She generously said yes, but warned me against using the paragraph in the e-mail because I had misspelled her name.
I went into total perfection paralysis. Why was I so sloppy? I looked down at it and smiled. This is not a big deal. Using this e-mail exchange as an example, you can see how my perfectionism and lack of self- compassion could easily lead to judgment. I think of myself as a sloppy hack because of one tiny mistake. By the same token, when I get an e-mail from someone and there are mistakes, I have a tendency to make sweeping judgments.
It touches everyone around us. Thankfully, compassion also spreads quickly. Our children learn how to be self- compassionate by watching us, and the people around us feel free to be authentic and connected. The scale helped me to realize that I do really well in terms of common humanity and mindfulness, but self-kindness needs my constant attention. The Self- Compassion Scale and other wonderful information are available on Dr.
Most of us are trying to live an authentic life. Deep down, we want to take off our game face and be real and imperfect. This line helps me remember the beauty of the cracks and the messy house and the imperfect manuscript and the too-tight jeans.
Imperfectly, but together. Get Going: She could never go back and make some of the details pretty. All she could do was move forward and make the whole beautiful. COM1 Resilience—the ability to overcome adversity—has been a growing topic of study since the early s.
In a world plagued by stress and struggle, everyone from psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers to clergy and criminal justice researchers want to know why and how some folks are better at bouncing back from hardship than others. We want to understand why some people can cope with stress and trauma in a way that allows them to move forward in their lives, and why other people appear more affected and stuck.
As I collected and analyzed my data, I recognized that many of the people I interviewed were describing stories of resilience. I heard stories about people cultivating Wholehearted lives despite adversity.
I knew these narratives were threaded with what we call protective factors—the things we do, have, and practice that give us the bounce. What Makes Up Resilience? If you look at the current research, here are five of the most common factors of resilient people: They are resourceful and have good problem-solving skills. They are more likely to seek help. They hold the belief that they can do something that will help them to manage their feelings and to cope. They have social support available to them.
They are connected with others, such as family or friends. At first, I hoped the patterns that I observed in my research would lead to a very straightforward conclusion—resilience is a core component of Wholeheartedness—just like the other guideposts. But there was something more to what I was hearing. The stories had more in common than just resilience; all of these stories were about spirit. Spirituality is recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us, and that our connection to that power and to one another is grounded in love and compassion.
Practicing spirituality brings a sense of perspective, meaning, and purpose to our lives. Without exception, spirituality—the belief in connection, a power greater than self, and interconnections grounded in love and compassion—emerged as a component of resilience.
Most people spoke of God, but not everyone. Some were occasional churchgoers; others were not. Some worshipped at fishing holes; others in temples, mosques, or at home. Some struggled with the idea of religion; others were devout members of organized religions. The one thing that they all had in common was spirituality as the foundation of their resilience. From this foundation of spirituality, three other significant patterns emerged as being essential to resilience: Cultivating hope 2.
Practicing critical awareness 3. As soon as I realized that hope is an important piece of Wholehearted living, I started investigating and found the work of C. Snyder, a former researcher at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. Emotions play a supporting role, but hope is really a thought process made up of what Snyder calls a trilogy of goals, pathways, and agency. We believe in ourselves I can do this! So, hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities.
Hope is learned! Snyder suggests that we learn hopeful, goal-directed thinking in the context of other people. Children most often learn hope from their parents. Snyder says that to learn hopefulness, children need relationships that are characterized by boundaries, consistency, and support.
The new cultural belief that everything should be fun, fast, and easy is inconsistent with hopeful thinking. It also sets us up for hopelessness. Hopeful self-talk sounds more like, This is tough, but I can do it. Given my abilities to chase down a goal and bulldog it until it surrenders from pure exhaustion, I resented learning this.
Before this research I believed that unless blood, sweat, and tears were involved, it must not be that important. We develop a hopeful mind-set when we understand that some worthy endeavors will be difficult and time consuming and not enjoyable at all. If we want to cultivate hopefulness, we have to be willing to be flexible and demonstrate perseverance.
Not every goal will look and feel the same. Tolerance for disappointment, determination, and a belief in self are the heart of hope. As a college professor and researcher, I spend a significant amount of time with teachers and school administrators.
Hopelessness is dangerous because it leads to feelings of powerlessness. Like the word hope, we often think of power as negative. The best definition of power comes from Martin Luther King Jr.
He described power as the ability to effect change. If we question our need for power, think about this: How do you feel when you believe that you are powerless to change something in your life?
Powerlessness is dangerous. For most of us, the inability to effect change is a desperate feeling. We need resilience and hope and a spirit that can carry us through the doubt and fear. We need to believe that we can effect change if we want to live and love with our whole hearts. From the time we wake up to the time our head hits the pillow at night, we are bombarded with messages and expectations about every aspect of our lives.
This makes living in a carefully edited, overproduced, and Photoshopped world very dangerous. If we want to cultivate a resilient spirit and stop falling prey to comparing our ordinary lives with manufactured images, we need to know how to reality-check what we see.
We need to be able to ask and answer these questions: Do these images convey real life or fantasy? Do these images reflect healthy, Wholehearted living, or do they turn my life, my body, my family, and my relationships into objects and commodities? Who benefits by my seeing these images and feeling bad about myself? In addition to being essential to resilience, practicing critical awareness is actually one of the four elements of shame resilience.
Shame works like the zoom lens on a camera. When we are feeling shame, the camera is zoomed in tight and all we see is our flawed selves, alone and struggling. Am I the only one with a family who is messy, loud, and out of control?
Am I the only one not having sex 4. Something is wrong with me. I am alone. When we zoom out, we start to see a completely different picture. We see many people in the same struggle. You too? I thought it was just me! In my experiences as a teacher and shame researcher, I have found incredible insight and wisdom in the work of Jean Kilbourne and Jackson Katz.
Both Kilbourne and Katz explore the relationship of media images to actual problems in the society, such as violence, the sexual abuse of children, pornography and censorship, masculinity and loneliness, teenage pregnancy, addiction, and eating disorders. We are each exposed to over ads a day. Yet, remarkably, most of us believe we are not influenced by advertising. Ads sell a great deal more than products. They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy.
They tell us who we are and who we should be. Sometimes they sell addictions. Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity. Numbing and Taking the Edge Off I talked to many research participants who were struggling with worthiness.
When we talked about how they dealt with difficult emotions such as shame, grief, fear, despair, disappointment, and sadness , I heard over and over about the need to numb and take the edge off of feelings that cause vulnerability, discomfort, and pain.
Participants described engaging in behaviors that numbed their feelings or helped them to avoid experiencing pain. Some of these participants were fully aware that their behaviors had a numbing effect, while others did not seem to make that connection. I knew this was a critically important finding in my research, so I spent several hundred interviews trying to better understand the consequences of numbing and how taking the edge off behaviors is related to addiction.
Most of us engage in behaviors consciously or not that help us to numb and take the edge of off vulnerability, pain, and discomfort. Addiction can be described as chronically and compulsively numbing and taking the edge off of feelings. We cannot selectively numb emotions.
When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions. The most powerful emotions that we experience have very sharp points, like the tip of a thorn.
When they prick us, they cause discomfort and even pain. Just the anticipation or fear of these feelings can trigger intolerable vulnerability in us. For many of us, our first response to vulnerability and pain of these sharp points is not to lean into the discomfort and feel our way through but rather to make it go away. We do that by numbing and taking the edge off the pain with whatever provides the quickest relief.
We can anesthetize with a whole bunch of stuff, including alcohol, drugs, food, sex, relationships, money, work, caretaking, gambling, staying busy, affairs, chaos, shopping, planning, perfectionism, constant change, and the Internet. Now I believe that everyone numbs and takes the edge off and that addiction is about engaging in these behaviors compulsively and chronically.
The men and women in my study whom I would describe as fully engaged in Wholehearted living were not immune to numbing. The primary difference seemed to be that they were aware of the dangers of numbing and had developed the ability to feel their way through high-vulnerability experiences. When I first started my research, I was very familiar with addiction.
Now I get it. My confusion stemmed from the fact that I never have felt completely in sync with the recovery community.
Abstinence and the Twelve Steps are powerful and profoundly important principles in my life, but not everything about the recovery movement fits for me. I have often wondered if I felt out of place because I quit so many things at one time. Does it keep us from staying out of judgment and from feeling connected? It also strengthened my commitment to sobriety, abstinence, health, and spirituality.
There is a full spectrum of human emotions and when we numb the dark, we numb the light. Now I can lean into joy, even when it makes me feel tender and vulnerable. In fact, I expect tender and vulnerable. Joy is as thorny and sharp as any of the dark emotions. When we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we lose joy. In fact, addiction research shows us that an intensely positive experience is as likely to cause relapse as an intensely painful experience. They feel even more painful, so I numb.
And so on. More on joy is coming in the next chapter.
Is spirituality a necessary component for resilience? The answer is yes. Feelings of hopelessness, fear, blame, pain, discomfort, vulnerability, and disconnection sabotage resilience. Practicing spirituality is what brings healing and creates resilience. For me, spirituality is about connecting with God, and I do that most often through nature, community, and music.
We all have to define spirituality in a way that inspires us. Without purpose, meaning, and perspective, it is easy to lose hope, numb our emotions, or become overwhelmed by our circumstances. We feel reduced, less capable, and lost in the face of struggle. The heart of spirituality is connection.
A good friend of mine heard this wonderful intention-setting reminder during a Twelve Step meeting. I love it! However you define that—I find it a little more challenging when it comes to things like food, work, and the computer. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
I love daily meditations and prayers. Sometimes the best way for me to get going is quiet prayer. Earlier I mentioned how surprised I was to see certain concepts from my research emerge in pairs or groups. A good example of this is the way that love and belonging go together. For years I thought it was the other way around: Just typing those words and thinking about how many years I spent living that way makes me weary.
No wonder I was tired for so long! One of the most profound changes in my life happened when I got my head around the relationship between gratitude and joy. I always thought that joyful people were grateful people. They have all of that goodness to be grateful for. But after spending countless hours collecting stories about joy and gratitude, three powerful patterns emerged: Without exception, every person I interviewed who described living a joyful life or who described themselves as joyful, actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their gratitude practice.
Both joy and gratitude were described as spiritual practices that were bound to a belief in human interconnectedness and a power greater than us. Gratitude When it comes to gratitude, the word that jumped out at me throughout this research process is practice.
For example, it would be reasonable to say that I have a yoga attitude. The ideals and beliefs that guide my life are very in line with the ideas and beliefs that I associate with yoga. I value mindfulness, breathing, and the body-mind-spirit connection. I even have yoga outfits. So, what does a gratitude practice look like? The folks I interviewed talked about keeping gratitude journals, doing daily gratitude meditations or prayers, creating gratitude art, and even stopping during their stressful, busy days to actually say these words out loud: What Is Joy?
Joy seems to me a step beyond happiness. Joy is a light that fills you with hope and faith and love. Happiness is tied to circumstance and joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude. I also learned that neither joy nor happiness is constant; no one feels happy all of the time or joyful all of the time. Both experiences come and go. Happiness is attached to external situations and events and seems to ebb and flow as those circumstances come and go.
Joy seems to be constantly tethered to our hearts by spirit and gratitude. But our actual experiences of joy—these intense feelings of deep spiritual connection and pleasure—seize us in a very vulnerable way. After these differences emerged from my data, I looked around to find what other researchers had written about joy and happiness. Interestingly, the explanation that seemed to best describe my findings was from a theologian.
Anne Robertson, a Methodist pastor, writer, and executive director of the Massachusetts Bible Society, explains how the Greek origins of the words happiness and joy hold important meaning for us today. She explains that the Greek word for happiness is Makarios, which was used to describe the freedom of the rich from normal cares and worries, or to describe a person who received some form of good fortune, such as money or health.
They say its opposite is not sadness, but fear. To do this, I think we have to take a hard look at the things that get in the way of gratitude and joy, and to some degree, even happiness. Scarcity and Fear of the Dark The very first time I tried to write about what gets in the way of gratitude and joy, I was in sitting on the couch in my living room with my laptop next to me and my research memo journal in my hands. I was tired and rather than writing, I spent an hour staring at the twinkle lights hanging over the entryway into my dining room.
I think they make the world look prettier, so I keep them in my house year-round. As I sat there flipping through the stories and gazing at the twinkle lights, I took out a pen and wrote this down: Twinkle lights are the perfect metaphor for joy. Joy is not a constant.
It comes to us in moments—often ordinary moments. A joyful life is not a floodlight of joy. That would eventually become unbearable.
I believe a joyful life is made up of joyful moments gracefully strung together by trust, gratitude, inspiration, and faith. Joy and gratitude can be very vulnerable and intense experiences. We are an anxious people and many of us have very little tolerance for vulnerability.
Our anxiety and fear can manifest as scarcity. We think to ourselves: Acknowledging how grateful I am is an invitation for disaster. For years, my fear of something terrible happening to my children actually prevented me from fully embracing joy and gratitude.
At first I thought I was crazy. Was I the only person in the world who did this? Knowing that those are pretty universal emotions, I gathered up the courage to talk about my experiences with a group of five hundred parents who had come to one of my parenting lectures.
I gave an example of standing over my daughter watching her sleep, feeling totally engulfed in gratitude, then being ripped out of that joy and gratitude by images of something bad happening to her. You could have heard a pin drop. I thought, Oh, God. How do we get out of here? Not sniffle cry, but sob cry. Why do we do that? What does it mean? As I had suspected, I was not alone. Most of us have experienced being on the edge of joy only to be overcome by vulnerability and thrown into fear.
Until we can tolerate vulnerability and transform it into gratitude, intense feelings of love will often bring up the fear of loss. The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. Scarcity These are anxious and fearful times, both of which breed scarcity. We think not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less.
There is one guarantee: But there are other kinds of scarcity. In this book, Lynne addresses the myth of scarcity. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack … What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.
We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mindset of scarcity. Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough. Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances.
In other words, worth is measured by fame and fortune.
Our culture is quick to dismiss quiet, ordinary, hardworking men and women. In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless. The memories that they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments. It was clear that their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring.
I say this out loud: Acknowledging that these moments are really what life is about has changed my outlook on work, family, and success.
Everything about this research process has pushed me in ways that I never imagined. This is especially true when it comes to topics like faith, intuition, and spirituality. When the importance of intuition and faith first emerged as key patterns in Wholehearted living, I winced a little bit.
Once again, I felt like my good friends—logic and reason—were under attack. Can you believe it? You work off of faith and your gut all of the time. Read this definition from the dictionary: I interviewed and collected stories so that I could get my head and heart around what it means to cultivate intuition and trust faith. I was surprised by what I learned. Intuition Intuition is not independent of any reasoning process.