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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are Paperback – September 1, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 2,579 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Brown, author or I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't), again urges us to expose and expel our insecurities in order to have the most fulfilling life possible. Her latest is a guidebook for pilgrims on the journey to wholehearted living, which she defines as containing courage, compassion, deliberate boundaries, and connection. She has defined 10 guideposts for personal introspection, which involve cultivating some positive quality, whether it be authenticity, self-compassion, or a resilient spirit, intuition, meaningful work, or laughter. Each guidepost is the focus of a chapter that contains illustrative stories, primarily from her own life; definitions, including the difference between shame and guilt; quotes from such diverse sources as Diane Ackerman and E.E. Cummings; and brief suggestions of activities that she pursues with the assumption that they might help her audience. Although these activities are highlighted in her introduction to the book, they are in short supply and the book functions more as a chatty meditation on the guideposts. Despite occasional moments of insight, this book's primary value may be in spurring thought and providing references to other authors that will provide further inspiration for those seeking a more meaningful life. (Oct.)

From Booklist

Human-behavior researcher and author of I Thought It Was Just Me (2007), Brown has made a career out of studying difficult emotions such as fear and shame. In this latest book, she emphasizes that above all other ingredients of living an emotionally healthy life is the importance of loving ourselves. In the grips of what she took to be a breakdown, or midlife crisis, Brown came to understand she was experiencing a “spiritual awakening” and worked to explore its significance and the interaction of knowing and understanding yourself and loving yourself. She intersperses her own personal journey with research and clinical observations of others of the work of living a “wholehearted” life, or “engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.” The point is to embrace life and oneself with all the imperfections, releasing the stress of overdoing and overworking. Brown offers exercises for readers to plumb their own emotions and begin to develop the kind of resilience needed to stand up to unrealistic expectations of others and ourselves. --Vanessa Bush
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Hazelden; 1 edition (August 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159285849X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1592858491
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2,579 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past twelve years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Her groundbreaking research has been featured on PBS, NPR, CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Brené's 2010 TEDxHouston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top ten most viewed TED talks on TED.com, with approximately 6 million viewers. Additionally, Brené gave the closing talk at the 2012 TED conference where she talked about shame, courage, and innovation.

Brené's newest book is, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the way we Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Gotham, 2012). She is also the author of The Gifts of Imperfection (2010), and I Thought It Was Just Me (2007), and Connections (2009); a shame-resilience curriculum being facilitated by helping professionals across the globe.

Brené lives in Houston with her husband, Steve, and their two children, Ellen and Charlie.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been through 6 therapists, I've struggled with depression for nearly twenty years, never could finish anything I started, and everyone always assumed I had ADHD. Not until therapist number five did someone point out to me that ADHD is often mistaken for anxiety and he was sure that was my problem. Boy was he right. Sadly, he was terrible at treating, so I found a new therapist who encouraged me to embrace the bad days and bad times and she pointed me to Brene Brown's TED talk on vulnerability. It really spoke to me, so I thought it would be a good idea to read her book. I just looked at the screen for a full minute trying to figure out how to put into words how much this book has helped me and I just can't find them. All those years I thought I had ADHD, I was just afraid of what people would think. I would pick up a new hobby hoping it would be the one that I could stick with and foster, only to give up on it. Never was the problem an attention deficiency, it was a courage deficiency. The author talks a lot about how making a major change in your life isn't something you wake up and do one day, it's something you practice every single day. And most will struggle with it, but without the struggle, we lose out on so much. I will have far fewer regrets on my deathbed having read this book. If you read these Ms. Brown, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
-I originally bought this book in May of 2011. I can't remember exactly why it spoke to me, but I know I was looking for self esteem boosting books. I think maybe the title resonated because I realized I was having some trouble with perfectionism. Accepting mistakes, compassion for myself, forgiving myself, but also pushing forward to being a better person, a better worker, friend, girlfriend, etc. It resonates today because I see how much of a perfectionist I can be, and how much trouble I am having forgiving myself for past mistakes, and trying not to label myself because of them. I am having trouble sufficiently feeling the guilt enough to change, letting that feeling in, but then forgiving myself, and not letting those behaviors define who I am as a person.
How did the book address this?

-I think these quotes from the book really get to the heart of the message: "Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance.... Healthy striving is self-focused--How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused--What will they think?... Perfectionism is addictive because when we invariably do experience shame, judgment, and blame, we often believe it's because we weren't perfect enough. So rather than questioning the faulty logic of perfectionism, we become even more entrenched in our quest to live, look, and do everything just right." Brown, Brene (2010-09-20). The Gifts of Imperfection (p. 56-57). Hazelden. Kindle Edition.
-What I got from this is that perfectionism tricks us into thinking we have it all: we can feel connected and invulnerable and in control. BUT, it is ultimately unsatisfying because it #1) it is a lie. We aren't in control or invulnerable, or perfect.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Gifts of Imperfection is a little gem of a book that offers readers a way to change their lives through adopting the practices of "wholehearted" living. Brené Brown shows us how to live more authentic and compassionate lives, while learning to embrace our imperfections, and recognize what issues get in our way, such as shame and fear. Although the book is an easy read on one level, it is a complex blueprint for living could take a lifetime to put into practice. The author challenges long-held notions and helped me see the world in new ways. She unpacks concepts such as the difference between happiness and joy and courage and heroics. The journey to a wholehearted life can be a spiritual process, and Dr. Brown is a rather unusual guide, a cross between the Dalai Lama and Wanda Sykes. One moment her words inspire hope and compassion and then belly laughs. She is brutally honest about her own strengths and struggles, so her words come not from an elevated plane, but from walking right beside, or maybe a little ahead, of the reader. Words such as "life-changing" and "revolutionary" are too often used and very clichéd, but they do describe this book. It would be a revolution in this country, and this world, if everyone practiced wholehearted living. That is a world that I want to live in. I am signing up for the revolution today, with my whole heart.
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I read a lot of books. Most of them stop at my mind; this one went to my heart. I couldn't put it down - truly life changing.

If you feel overwhelmed by expectations, get this book. You will be glad you did!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Let me begin by stating where I was coming from, when I picked this book up. I've spent 11 years in the Army and done quite a few combat deployments. Moreover, I had recently been dumped in my 'perfect' engagement by my fiancee who had been cheating on me with a male coworker. So, this 'emotional' genre of reading isn't usually my thing and my sense of worthiness was very injured. I initially avoided this book out of concern that it was one of many under-evidenced self-help titles.

Changing my mind on reading this was undoubtedly one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am a much better person for it. I don't guarantee very much, due to my skeptical nature; but, I think I can guarantee that something in this book will profoundly change you. Perhaps this was done by Dr. Brown's approach of confronting the 'things that stand in our way' of leading a 'wholehearted life'. This is important because thoughtful people need to confront these things in order to overcome them and develop not just a positive mindset; but, a *realistic* one that doesn't ignore the potentially negative cognitions that arise.

Some of my PROs and CONs follow. But, allow me to be clear: if you have just been dumped, divorced, or experienced a break-up, then I think this is a great book for you. Some other titles like to do half-baked analysis of what happened between you two. Some of those books are like your own, highly-biased pep talker ("she was all wrong for you", "you're better off, now", etc.). While well-meaning, this can weaken you going forward. They sacrifice truth and accuracy for 'feel-good' support.

Much has already been said about this book, so I've avoided a super thorough review.

PROs
-well-organized content.
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