Before I even get started, let me clarify that this book is not nearly as daunting as it first seemed to me. I stared at the title “The Gifts of Imperfection” on our bookshelf at MDI for a few months before bringing myself to actually read it. I was intimidated by a title that to me suggested I would be reminded of my many (MANY) imperfections as I flipped through the pages. I am so grateful to have been SO wrong.
This book, despite what the title might suggest, is one of the most encouraging, relatable, and inspiring books I’ve read to date. I’m notoriously a Brené Brown fan and this might be my favorite of all her books (Daring Greatly being a close second).
Brené Brown starts the book exploring the depths of her life-changing epiphany (she calls it her breakdown) as she had been studying shame for many years. She began to see through her study of shame in thousands of individuals that people were divided into two groups: Those who are unhappy and unfulfilled and those who were living “wholeheartedly”. Wholeheartedly, for many people (including me) is a paralyzing characteristic to obtain. What does it mean to be wholehearted? Could I ever identify myself as wholehearted? In everything I do now, am I living to the fullest? That thought quickly catapulted me into the depths of realizing I wasn’t living that way. Instead, I came to the honest realization that I have been filled with shameful, envious thoughts about those who seemed to have it better than me for a very long time. Inadequacy raced through me as Brown charged readers with the task of becoming a “wholehearted human.” That charge energized me to take a close look at the way I see and treat myself and the people around me.
The thing that set apart the individuals who were living wholeheartedly was this concept of worthiness, something we struggle with as a society. Brown writes that those living wholeheartedly believe that they are worthy of love and connection NOW. Not after losing weight. Or finishing school. Or that new job. They believe that in this moment, no matter where they’re at, they are WORTHY.
Brown writes that there are “Guideposts” to living wholeheartedly despite each of our imperfections. A few (not all) of these Guideposts are cultivating authenticity, compassion, resiliency, gratitude, stillness, and many more. These Guideposts are interconnected, each of them working with something else to make us better.
These Guideposts have acted as steps in this journey to becoming wholehearted. Each chapter of the book filled with examples of people like me – struggling to be worthy. Brown shares brutally honest and vulnerable stories of her journey that have inspired me in my own worthiness. Her words have become mantras to hold on to, characteristics to aspire to, and inspiration to be better.
“Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.”
For many of us, we are working double time to try to be enough. News flash – You ALREADY ARE. If we can bravely identify the things that are holding us back and stand up for vulnerability for who we are right now, we can live wholeheartedly. We can let go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embrace who we really are.
As I read this book, I felt liberated from all of the flaws I’m internally stewing over every day. Instead, I’m learning who I am in the truest form and how to live from that place of worthiness instead of scarcity! Brown has given many the courage to move forward through honesty, vulnerability, and authenticity. Her writings can do the same for you! Click here to check out Brown’s book and see for yourself!