07/18/2021 / Review

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

I'm always looking to find a book that "speaks" to me and relates to my life. This is that book. Brene Brown offers ten guideposts that help sift through feelings and dig deep into what gets in the way to making positive changes. 
I am an avid listener of Brene Brown's Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead podcasts on Spotify. While I know Brene is a research professor at the University of Houston, a visiting professor in management at The University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, and has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy, listening to her is like talking with a girlfriend. The same goes for her style of writing as she has authored five #1 New York Times best sellers, including The Gifts of Imperfection, now available in a 10th anniversary edition. If you've previously purchased the book, I'm sure it is well worn from reading many times. The anniversary edition offers "New tools to Make the Work Your own" as well as a "10th Anniversary Note from Brene.

"Unlocking Us" is on break right now, but the Summer Sister Series has been in its place. This series is hosted by Brene and her twin sisters, Ashley Brown Ruiz, a Licensed Master of Social Work certified by the State of Texas, and Barrett Guillen, Chief of Staff for Brené Brown Education and Research Group. This series is on The Gifts of Imperfection and during each session they have been discussing the ten guideposts from the book, sharing their thoughts, feelings, and offering their personal experiences. I love "Unlocking Us", but I don't want this Summer Sister Series to end. The sisters are a riot and the conversations really make me think deeply about my own feelings and practices.   

This book is about "wholehearted living" which Brene believes is "a process...it's the journey of a lifetime". The guideposts lead the reader into a journey of working toward a practice of cultivating and letting go, with heartfelt stories shared by Brene that help illustrate how we can build our self esteem, self compassion, acceptance, gratitude, and shed the idea of "perfectionism". Letting go of perfectionism and cultivating self compassion is not only one of the guideposts, but a very important practice to undertake.

The writing is clear that shame and perfectionism are closely related. As Brene highlights, "Where perfectionism drives us, shame is riding shotgun." Shame is the fear of not being enough and perfectionism is how we think we deal with it. This keeps us from setting boundaries and perpetuating the idea that we can handle it all, when in fact inside you're struggling with your inner flaws. Perfectionism is never ending, and you are always chasing it. This is why this book is so important- this is where you need to do the work. We need less perfectionism and more self compassion.

Brene writes that "people who live wholeheartedly do in deed DIG Deep". DIG is her  acronym for getting Deliberate, Inspired, and Going. Each guidepost includes a DIG Deep section. This section is there to, "help us start thinking about how we get deliberate and inspired about our choices, and how we take action".

Working with her team, they have taken several years to build, test, and validate their Whole Hearted Inventory. This inventory consists of ten subscales that align with the guideposts in this book. This assessment is free and allows you to assess your strengths and opportunities for growth around the main topics in the book. You should take this inventory before beginning the book. Go to Brenebrown.com/wholeheartedinventory

As Brene writes, "This book is full of topics such as self-compassion, acceptance, and gratitude". It includes "integration" pages that provide room to write the idea, pages about this idea, and an area to write notes. 

What is said early on in the book and resonates throughout is Brene's message of owning our own stories. Do the work! Build your self esteem, embrace what you feel are your inner flaws, create your own mantra to live your best life. This book is a great way to begin your work, open up, and start releasing what is deep inside. 

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Kathleen Palmieri

Kathleen Palmieri is a National Board Certified Teacher, a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Learning Facilitator, and a fifth grade educator in upstate New York. She reviews professional texts and writes education articles for Middleweb. As a writer with a passion for pedagogy, Kathleen's focus is on education practices and strategies, as well as her own experiences as an educator. She has presented at math conferences, writing workshops, actively collaborates in literacy projects, and networks globally. 
KathleenPalmieri.com