A closer look at Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection
By Leah Hart, Contributor
Let me begin by saying, “self-help” books are not my go-to. Something about having someone preach at me needing to accept change and love myself isn’t something that I want to hear from someone who seemingly has it all figured out. So last year when my therapist recommended Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, I was reluctant. I’ve tried to read books like this in the past from people who instruct you on how to live your best life from their perspective, and the dos and don’ts of how to get through the hard times. It’s not for me.
The New York Times bestseller sat on my bedside table for almost a year before I thought “what the heck” and gave it a go. Brown does an immaculate job of combining humour, relatability and informative tools to get you over hurdles in life — mostly by yourself. If you’re a perfectionist like me, prepare yourself for some harsh truths. Brene’s refreshing stories of her own journey, similar to that of myself and many people I know, made the read less “this is what you should be doing” and more “this is what helped me, and I hope it helps you too.”
Brown begins by asserting the idea of “wholehearted living.” The captivating preface extends on this idea through courage, compassion and connection. She speaks on how to approach boundaries safely, respectfully and honestly. She shared the experiences that led her down a more compassionate, less resentful and judgmental path — that “the heart of compassion is acceptance.” Brown’s emphasis on wholehearted living relies on connecting in an extremely disconnected world, which I’m sure most of us can relate to as we see social media development skyrocket. She leads by example and shares personal stories about her journey of overcoming the “perfect life syndrome” and her own feelings of inadequacy. It was a breath of fresh air. As a researcher, she provides you with tools, facts and different resources for support from other books to websites and articles. I love this woman!
Brown then presents the exploration of love and the power it upholds, how it’s all about belonging and generally just being enough. In this part of the book, she makes you feel even more like you’re part of a community of people who have struggled or are struggling by sharing stories and experiences aside from her own. She speaks on hope and powerlessness, the importance of practicing critical awareness and digging deep. Brown breaks down some of the most important things to cultivate on your journey, which she referred to as “guideposts.” From authenticity, to gratitude, to laughter, (I know, I know, these sound like really basic things – but they’re not) she did a beautiful job of making me stop to reflect, to cry, to laugh and to really appreciate myself; whether that be on my best, worst or even mediocre days. By the end of the book, I felt a level of compassion for myself that I never expected.
Because of this book, I practice gratitude daily which has truly made me realize the beautiful and blessed life I live. I have slowly learned to overcome my fears of being judged and my need for perfectionism.It made me dig deep and be deliberate. I believed I was on top of my own well-being before this book. I practice yoga everyday, I encourage people around me everyday, I follow a routine — but none of these things mean anything if I am only doing it out of necessity and not out of love for myself and with my whole heart.
Quite simply put, The Gifts of Imperfection guides us toward the path of living a wholehearted life. To do so, we must throw away this idea of a perfect life and embrace our imperfections, flaws and vulnerabilities. I would not only give this book a five-star rating, but I also highly recommend that you put it at the top of your reading list. This book is not your typical self-help book, though you will likely find it in your local bookstore in the self-help or personal development section. This book is a revelation. And to that, I leave you with a quote from the book itself.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in 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.”