• JTF

The Gifts of Imperfection: Giving Kindness to Yourself


Who is it for: Those that step into a room and begin judging themselves before anyone else gets the chance too. For exhausted overachievers, constant worries, over analyzers, and compulsive neurotics.

What makes it special:  There is no shortage of material from the author; what makes this book worth reading is how approachable and straightforward it is. Before Brené Brown decided to step into herself and conquered the world, she was a human being trying to get through the day living wholeheartedly.

Let's make some unnecessary labels: Personal development, anxiety management, organizational and personal leadership.

The Gifts of Imperfection is Brené Brown's third book, with the first publication in 2010, and celebrating its 10th-anniversary edition this year. In it, the author fully delves into the concept of wholehearted living. While later books focus on organizational leadership while also covering the collective and individual, this book is personal and incredibly accessible. In 10 points, the author explains the significant roadblocks to achieve a wholehearted life and how to overcome them.

The book is part academic research, part how-to, and a lot of personal input from the author's experiences that make the reader not feel alone in their experience while connecting with her story. At the core of the book is the idea that acceptance is not only a trait of well-adjusted individuals but a need for anyone who wishes to live authentically. In a world that favors perfectionism, that continually makes people numb, anxious about scarcity, and riddled with fear and powerlessness; this book offers a road map, an antidote to the pitfalls of today's society and a way to reconnect with the individual's core values without turning someone into a sociopath.

The book teaches how to cultivate compassion, to let go of the need for certainty, and that no one needs to be exhausted from running the social hamster wheel in search of status, productivity, and self-worth. The book may read as a manual for an immature teenager. A person trying to find her/his footing in the world, someone riddled with anxiety about being cool, always in control, and trying to figure out what she/he is supposed to be as a way of life. The audience the book seeks is more adult in age, but still coping consciously or subconsciously with the leftovers of their upbringing. 

Individuals form their identity in early childhood, cement and articulate it during their growing up years, and if they are lucky, question and reassess their values during adolescence. The issue with such a model is that at no point is the person developed enough to take on such endeavors, leaving most scarred and wondering how they got there, and why they cannot find internal emotional and mental peace and contentment. 

The narrative addresses the issues that began in childhood and that deeply affect behavior in adulthood. So, before the reader puts up a wall and begins to question their own 'need' for the advice, it is necessary to accept and understand that just because they have survived childhood and adolescence doesn't mean that they do not have to reconcile it. In that aspect, the book's advice aims at an intelligent and reflective adult audience.

While they are many offerings to choose from Brené Brown, this book is probably the most intimate and accessible. It creates the personal framework from where the reader can expand to their social, organizational, and collective realm without compromising their values and understanding their reality. 


Book quotes:


''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.''


''Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.''


“Courage is like—it’s a habitus, a habit, a virtue: You get it by courageous acts. It’s like you learn to swim by swimming. You learn courage by couraging.” The same is true for compassion and connection. We invite compassion into our lives when we act compassionately toward ourselves and others, and we feel connected in our lives when we reach out and connect.''


''Asking for what you need is one of the bravest things that you’ll ever do.''


''The heart of compassion is really acceptance. The better we are at accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become.''


''Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.''


''People often want to believe that shame is reserved for the folks who have survived terrible traumas, but this is not true. Shame is something we all experience. And while it feels as if shame hides in our darkest corners, it actually tends to lurk in all of the familiar places, including appearance and body image, family, parenting, money and work, health, addiction, sex, aging, and religion. To feel shame is to be human.''


''Here are the first three things that you need to know about shame:

1. We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we

    experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy        and human connection.

2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame.

3. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.''