Sep 08

“The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown: 10th Anniversary

Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame. Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (2010)

About the newest (2020) edition of The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown‘s publisher states, “In hardcover for the first time, this tenth-anniversary edition of the game-changing #1 New York Times bestseller features a new foreword and brand-new tools to make the work your own.”

From Brown’s publisher 10 years ago:

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate 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,’ and to go to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.’

What are the 10 guideposts? Each one has its own chapter and title:

  1. Cultivating Authenticity: Letting Go of What People Think
  2. Cultivating Self-Compassion: Letting Go of Perfectionism
  3. Cultivating a Resilient Spirit: Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness
  4. Cultivating Gratitude and Joy: Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
  5. Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith: Letting Go of the Need for Certainty
  6. Cultivating Creativity: Letting Go of Comparison
  7. Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
  8. Cultivating Calm and Stillness: Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle
  9. Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and “Supposed To”
  10. Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance: Letting Go of Being Cool and “Always in Control”

Recommended before you read the book is Brown’s Wholehearted Inventory Agreement, an instrument that “assesses your strengths and opportunities for growth…You’ll see that the ten subscales align with the ten guideposts” (Brown’s website).

Selected Key Quotes from The Gifts of Imperfection

“Perfectionism is self destructive simply because there’s no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal.”

“Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it—it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.”

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.”

“Perfectionism is all about perception—we want to be perceived as perfect. Ironically, there is no way to control perception. No matter how much time and energy we spend trying, it’s out of our hands. I once heard someone say, ‘What people think of me or say about me is none of my business.’ It’s hard, but I try to practice this.”

“Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Research shows that most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.”

“Get clear on the costs of perfectionism. What dreams have you walked away from? What creativity are you holding back? There’s a popular quote that asks, ‘What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?’ For those of us struggling with perfectionism, the rest of that quote should be ‘Then go out and do it because, in the end, failing is less painful than never trying.'”

“Practice self-compassion. We need to be kind and tender with ourselves. Most of us talk to ourselves in ways we would NEVER consider talking to other people. We are critical instead of kind. We are judgmental instead of loving. Perfectionism is ultimately a struggle for worthiness and there’s no better place to start than remembering that our imperfections and vulnerabilities connect us to each other and to our humanity.”

Mar 31

“Publicly Shamed”: Life After Losing Face

A great renaissance of public shaming is sweeping our land. Justice has been democratized. The silent majority are getting a voice. But what are we doing with our voice? We are mercilessly finding people’s faults. We are defining the boundaries of normality by ruining the lives of those outside it. We are using shame as a form of social control. Publisher of So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

What happens when you’ve been victimized by public shaming? Jon Ronson investigates this in his newest book, the anxiety-provoking but relevant So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed.

Gillian TerzisThe Australian, considers Ronson’s latest book to be “impeccably timed.” Here’s why:

Oversharing, once seen as the product of poor (and almost exclusively female) self-­restraint, is more accurately understood in the context of the ‘liking’ economy as a form of strategic revelation in service of clicks, likes, retweets and faves. The social media ‘pile on’ seems to function similarly. The momentum of public outrage and the attendant clicks quickly eclipse any genuine moral conviction.

Driven and amplified by social media, the pile-on seems a contemporary phenomenon. Outrage has been commodified, and savvy media outlets couldn’t be happier about it. But its animating impulses are as old as time: it’s often as much about righting wrongs as it is about basking in the approval from others. Pile-ons, perhaps because of their ferocity, are ripe for backlash…

One such pile-on happened to Justine Sacco in 2013 after tweeting “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” Among other consequences, she lost her PR job. “Sacco’s offence, according to Ronson, was not that her comments were racist or ignorant, but that they were stripped out of context — a rookie error for a terrible comedian. The magnitude of her public annihilation seemed disproportionate,” states Terzis.

But Sacco’s only one of a group of shamed people Ronson interviewed for the book. “As Ronson makes patently clear, all these people’s punishments by far outweighed the gravity of their so-called crimes,” notes Rachel Cook, The Guardian.

Can the purposeful use of public shaming ever motivate people to make healthy changes?

Brené Brown, an expert on shame, elaborates on how this tendency operates in our culture:

…It’s used in our ‘here and now’ society because you can actually see a swift behavior change when you use shame. The consequences, however, are very serious. Shame promotes change by using fear of rejection, fear of not being accepted and fear of disconnection. Ultimately, shame is very destructive to both the person doing the shaming and the person being shamed. When you talk to 200 women about shame (and now some men as well), you quickly learn how many of our deepest scars are from being shamed and many of our most profound regrets can be traced back to experiences when we shamed others.

In a Psychology Today blog post, noted addictions expert Dr. Stanton Peele also warns against public shaming. He refers to neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitzwhose article in Time, “Being Ashamed of Drinking Prompts Relapse, Not Recovery,” cites new research results that “add to a body of literature suggesting that widely used shaming and humiliating methods of treating alcohol and other drug problems …are not only ineffective but also may be counterproductive.”

In fact, we just wind up back where we started:

Shame is not only an effect of addiction but also can be a key reason why some people turn to drink or other drugs in the first place. Research suggests that people who feel particularly high levels of shame are at increased risk not just for addictions but also for other conditions that can worsen addictions, like depression…

That can set up a vicious cycle: if you drink to escape shame and then embarrass yourself while drinking, you wind up with even more reasons to drink — and to be ashamed of yourself.