Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

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I just finished a book called The Gifts Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. It was written by Brene Brown. One of the social workers at the partial hospitalization program talked about her books a lot, so I decided to read one.

Brene Brown is a researcher and professor. She is part of the research faculty at the University of Houston graduate school of social work and does qualitative research on concept like shame, fear, and vulnerability.

I’ve never written a book review before; it is definitely not my forte. However, I think it might be useful for others to get a little info on the book past what’s written in Amazon customer reviews.

The theme or main focus of this book is living authentically while believing that we are enough as we are. Brown calls this “Wholehearted living.” “Wholehearted living” is necessary for a true sense of belonging and real, deep connection with others.

At the beginning of the book Brown discusses developing feelings of worthiness through courage, compassion and connection. She also talks about how worthiness, love, and belonging will help while working on Wholehearted living. A chapter is spent talking about obstacles to Wholehearted living (shame, shoulds, beating ourselves up, etc).

The rest of the book–the majority of it–is about the 10 Guideposts to Wholehearted living that Brown has identified. Those guideposts are authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, gratitude & joy, intuition & trusting faith, creativity, play & rest, calm & stillness, meaningful work, and laughter, song & dance.

I enjoyed this book. I am not really into terms like “loving-kindess” and using Wholehearted with a capital letter, but I know sometimes it’s easier to pick a word or two and stick with it to summarize a concept. I liked that this book didn’t make crazy claims like a lot of self-help books; the author didn’t write as if she was going to change my life. I thought it was a nice overview of a lot of different things (the guideposts) because it gave me several things to think about.

Reading this book made me want to read more about Brene Brown’s research on shame. She talked a bit about shame and shame resilience. Shame is a big issue for me right now, and I got the idea from this book that the author has a lot of knowledge on working through shame.

My favorite part of the book was the chapter on gratitude and joy. Brown talked about the “myth of scarcity.” She points out that we are constantly fixated on what we lack. This isn’t exactly a revolutionary idea; tons of self-help books and articles preach the importance of being grateful. However, Brown comes at it from a slightly different angle, one that resonated with me more.

I have a habit of not letting myself enjoy good things/moments because I am afraid they won’t last. It’s like I’d rather not be happy than have to feel bad when things go wrong. In some ways this is a self-protective behavior, but it doesn’t always benefit me. I usually just end up missing out on happiness. Brown talks about this in her book. She says:

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.

Also, going back to the mindset of scarcity, she notes that we are often thinking and talking about all the things we don’t have enough of. Didn’t get enough sleep the night before, don’t have enough time to do whatever, aren’t smart enough, etc. Our default is to think that we don’t have enough of things. The concept of “not enough” is a huge part of our outlook and the way we function. We are convinced that we should always be doing more. If we have enough money to eat and pay our bills, we’ll just think about the fact that we don’t have enough money to travel. If we’re working a job we’re satisfied with, we’ll think about how we should be pursuing our passions or living our dreams. Our whole society is kind of driven by “not enough.” That truly eats away at loving ourselves, feeling worthy, and true connection with other people.

The author’s tone was very pleasant and this book flowed nicely. I’m glad I read it. It was definitely worth the time and money.

This book is available in paperback on Amazon for $9.50 and on Kindle for $8.52.