The Gifts of Imperfection
I first heard Brené Brown speaking on CBC Radio One as I was driving home from church one Sunday. Funny how things come to us when we least expect them and how much they can impact our lives if we are open to the opportunity they present. Brown was speaking about her book I Thought It Was Just Me and I knew that I had to read the book. At the same time that I found that book, I also found The Gifts of Imperfection. I’m glad I invested in mySelf and purchased this book as well.
My copy of Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection is full of highlighting and underlining and notes in the margins. A sentence here or a phrase or word there will generate a thought, tweak a memory, lead to a wave moving in me. This is one of those books that I’ve re-read. Each reading opens something more for me. It truly has been a gift for me for all that it has moved in me.
The book’s sub-title is Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. And I know: “Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt .” I had been living my life trying desperately to be who I thought I was supposed to be. External referencing for creating the life I truly want to create is seriously overrated.
In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown encourages us to lead a Wholehearted Life. For her, this means engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness – from a deep sense of self-worth. Leading a Wholehearted Life means not striving to be perfect but rather, embracing being imperfect – enjoying our imperfections and knowing that they are a gift and not a burden. Being imperfect means that we get to let go of the shame which we’ve been dragging around with us. We can admit what we don’t know without fear. We can ask for help without feeling foolish for doing so. We can take risks. We can experience new adventures and learn new things. We can let go of the worry about ‘performing’. We can choose without worrying about measuring up.
What a relief that is! Being mySelf in all my juicy messiness!
It seems so simple but so many of us, while we may embrace, intellectually, the idea of letting go of the stuff we’ve used to create our lives, cannot see how to let go of our fear of not being perfect and start living an imperfect, yet wholehearted life. So how does anyone start? Brown, in The Gifts of Imperfection, suggests ten guideposts to cultivate to help us on this journey – guideposts which she has come to know through her interviews with many people who know that they live energetic, creative, and fulfilling lives. The guideposts are:
* a resilient spirit
* gratitude and joy
* intuition and trusting faith
* play and rest
* calm and stillness
* meaningful work
* laughter, song and dance
At the end of the discussion of each guidepost, Brown gives us ideas to consider and things to try. These she has called DIG-ging Deep – getting deliberate, getting inspired, and getting going.
I admit that some of these guideposts are easier for me to live in the daily fabric of my life than others. And I know that I can find DIG-ging Deep for myself a challenge. I know there are times when I cling to the familiar and tell myself that I do not have the time, money or talent needed. And then I remember that it is not perfection that makes the difference in my life. It is choosing to do and learn and try. That’s what makes for my Wholehearted Life. I know that my life will always be changing and expanding and imperfect and that’s just fine because I am wonderfully and gloriously imperfect.
We are all imperfect and that is absolutely as we should be.
I strongly recommend this book. Together with Louise LeBrun’s Fully Alive, and Brown’s I Thought It Was Just Me, The Gifts Of Imperfection is an excellent guide for compassionately helping anyone who is seeking the more that they are and that they can become And, as is true for the life changing books which we read, this is a great book to revisit when we inevitably veer off our paths forward and into those dark places mired by old beliefs, values and attitudes and old habits of mind.
As Brené Brown has written: I see now how the work of cultivating and letting go that shows up in the ten guideposts is not “to-do-list” material. It’s not something we accomplish or acquire and then check off our list. It’s life work. It’s soul work.