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Book Review: The Gifts of Imperfections by Brené Brown

I recently re-read this book by Brené Brown, at the recommendation of a friend. Brown can really do no wrong when it comes to writing about how to live your most authentic, vulnerable life -- laying out a roadmap for to truest sense of self.

Her writing style is some of my favorite because she she avoids creating a sense of an autobiographical experience for her reader. You get the sense that she's been through darkness, but she makes it an active choice to not have her story take center stage, which I absolutely love. She offers you practical and easily applicable tools in dealing with your own personal distortions, traumas and challenges.

Clearly, as you may tell from the title, the book is about embracing our own flaws and welcoming an opportunity for navigating them as they occur or have occured. From the jump, Brené introduces you to the idea of living wholeheartedly.

Wholehearted living is about engaging with 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 left is undone, I am enough." - Brené Brown.

She breaks down whole hearted living into three main concepts:

  1. Courage - to make hard decisions; doing things even with a sense of fear; and embracing change.

  2. Compassion - have some love for yourself and others as you live your life, as best you know how with the tools you've been given at the moments you've been given them (but also be open to new ways of living).

  3. Connection - while it's important for us to be ourselves, we can not completely disregard what others think about us, because connection is a vital part of living life - no man is an island.

The remainder of the book is a nose dive into the image you see to your right, "The 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living." Brené breaks down each guide post tactfully and in a straight forward and relatable manner. She starts each guide post with assisting you in moving out of ("letting go") of conditioned beliefs, put in place by our family, society and friends. She then ushers you into a "how to" in cultivating things like authenticity, compassion, intuition, calmness, meaning, etc.

Brené gives the such great anecdotes and is the best story teller. If you haven't had the pleasure of watching any of her Ted Talks, check her out on YouTube. I promise you will feel talked WITH, not talked TO. She comes from a place of "I've been there."

I try my very best to bring a sense of Brené into my work as a psychotherapist, specifically being relatable to the people I assist in self-healing. Disclosure is sometimes important, if not essential, because it creates a sense of safety and vulnerability with the patient/client. The same way, though, we should avoid "ego-speak"(the feeling of having to relate to someone else via your own personal story) but speak through a sense of connection. LISTEN to that someone, and FEEL OUT the relationship - meaning, ask yourself, "Is me sharing this helping my friend? Or is it coming from a place that I need to be heard?" The balance is difficult. Brené does it flawlessly.

Her final though inquired the central question: What is the greater risk: letting go of what people think or letting go of how you feel and who you believe you are?" You can be perfectly imperfect. This isn't an excuse to mess up without feeling or be passive in life, but rather an opportunity to find equal parts effort and equal parts compassion, in terms of when things are not achieved or done as perfectly as we would like.

"To feel brave, afraid and very alive."

P.S. - how adorable is her reference to her own transformation process - "the breakdown spiritual awaking?" LOL!

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