the-gifts-of-imperfection-summary

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown [Summary]

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The Book In Three Or More Sentences:

The Gifts of Imperfection is short, full of inspiring stories, and definitions of sparkly words book, that will help you accept yourself the way you really are. The research shared by Brené Brown will give you permission to abandon the life you’re supposed to live and embrace the life you really want to live. And though full of touchy-feely passages, the ideas inside the book will allow you to finally stand up and believe in yourself.

The Core Idea:

Embrace your flaws and show yourself the way you are. The book will take you on a journey to your own personal oasis – Wholehearted life. A type of living focused on unraveling your true desires, embracing your imperfect qualities, and finally start living a worry-free life where you don’t care about what others think about you. The focus of your existence becomes, “how I feel!” not, “what others might say!”

Highlights:

  • To get over stress and shame, you need to realize that perfect shouldn’t be the norm.
  • Talking about shame with good friends is the best way to accept your imperfections.
  • Your life will start to matter to you when you convince yourself that you matter.

7 Key Lessons from The Gifts of Imperfection:

Lesson #1: Embrace The Wholehearted Way of Living

It’s difficult to accept yourself with all of your faulty habits and messy thoughts when all you see in the world is perfect bodies and a lavish lifestyle.

But worrying (all the time) about what others might think will never allow you to reach a point where you live your life completely in accordance with your true desires.

The Wholehearted way of living is about acknowledging your imperfections, embracing them, and still being able to function properly in the world. Or as the author defines, “It means cultivating 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. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.

To start your journey of inner discovery, the first thing you need to do, or should we say start doing regularly, is to love yourself for who you truly are.

Only when you start accepting your nasty qualities and the skills you’re lacking, without feeling ashamed, you can wake up with a smile on your face and be equally happy when you go to bed every night even if not all of your to-do items are done.

To come up with this worthy way of living, the author had to go through her own spiritual awakening. It took Brené a year of “soul work” with a therapist, to successfully go through her midlife crisis. The whole self-discovery journey with all the practical steps is shared in the book and can help you identify your own struggles so you can unravel the person you’ve been hiding all those years. The person you’ve been hiding because you have been afraid of other people’s comments.

According to the author, the Wholehearted type of living can emerge only when we take the risk to show our imperfect qualities and our vulnerable side. When this happens, we start believing fully in ourselves. And, we start living the life we want to live.

Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” Brené Brown

Lesson #2: Practice Courage, Compassion, and Connection

How do you cultivate worthiness and become truly authentic?

That’s the main question Brené Brown tries to answer in The Gifts of Imperfection.

Our go-to thought when we imagine authenticity is perfection. But Brené advocates for totally the opposite. Through imperfection, we can reach inner acceptance, thus ourselves.

To start this journey of self-discovery, we need to practice courage, compassion, and connection. And here we’re not talking about a one-time thing, these three need to become our daily practices.

Here’s how you can exercise these seemingly lofty ideas:

  • Practice courage: We’re not talking about saving-the-princess-from-the-castle kind of bravery. Here, courage is defined as, “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” In other words, to speak up when you don’t understand. To tell others that you’re afraid and to share your desires and goals with the world even if they don’t materialize. The courage to share your vulnerabilities will form inner bravery that will basically shout something along the lines of, “Even if I’m not totally perfect, I still matter.”
  • Practice compassion: When someone shares a vulnerable story, we try to act as a healer. In response, we usually share how we handled a similar situation with the intention to fix them. By doing this, we put ourselves as somehow superior to the person who’s talking to us. But real compassion is not a hierarchical relationship, it should be a connection between equals. So, don’t try to fix people, try to be with them in vulnerable moments.
  • Practice connection: We often confuse communication with real connection. Just because you’re regularly chatting with someone doesn’t mean that you understand them. To practice connection, Dr. Brown suggests not only give help, but also to ask for help when we need such. Real relationships are formed when we’re able to help but more importantly, when we allow others to help us.

But here’s the tricky part about compassion and connecting: We can’t call just anyone. It’s not that simple. I have a lot of good friends, but there are only a handful of people whom I can count on to practice compassion when I’m in the dark shame place.” Brené Brown

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