“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 Brown, The 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.”

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

  1. Thanks for blogging about this. Sometimes we need a daily reminder to be kinder to ourselves and not set expectations so high that we lose sight of what’s really important in life.

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