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1,115 of 1,153 people found the following review helpful
on August 14, 2011
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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602 of 649 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2010
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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198 of 212 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2012
-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. And #2) it requires us to change who we are -- and the connection we most desire is a connection based on being truly known by another person. So in order to feel connected AND known, we have to accept the reality that we are imperfect, and we are vulnerable, and we are not in control.
-And while connection is obviously a huge source of joy, Brene also talks about the other kinds of joy that perfectionism halts in its tracks: meaningful work, enjoyable hobbies, creative endeavors, etc. Again, because perfectionism tries to give us a sense of control, and thereby tries to prevent the possibility of loss, we often don't even try to have joyful things, or we deny the level of joy something is giving us in order to feel less hurt when it leaves.
-And the book has a lot of great suggestions as to ways get past the feelings of inadequacy perfectionism is rooted in, and also ways to lean into the vulnerability of imperfection. Another great topic the book covered (and that it alerted me to) was the importance of shame as a barrier to self acceptance and love and joy. (But as you will see below, I really recommend its sister book for more on this piece). And I love Brene's emphasis on authenticity as a goal. It is fascinating and inspiring.

Where I still don't feel resolution:

-One of the things she mentions to get when you are feeling shame is getting connected, sharing your story. But I have a few concerns about that:
-She doesn't explain in detail WHO has earned the right to hear your story and HOW to cultivate those friendships. If you are reading the book is stands to reason that you may very well not have those friendships. If you are cultivating your authenticity and dealing with feelings of inadequacy, you may have surrounded yourself with inauthentic and judgmental people because of your need for approval from these types.
-Even if you are at some stage where you have a few compassionate and caring friends (which I do feel lucky enough to have), it requires them to always be open to your shame at the moment you need them without regard to the "stuff" they bring to the day. If you are feeling shame about X today, and so are they, your attempt at connection may trigger their shame even deeper and they will "imperfectly" push you away. I wanted her to talk more about those situations. It is great when you can have an empathetic ear to listen, and it feels amazing, but even with the world's best friends, you cannot always expect that will be available to you whenever you need it.
-And then even if you catch your friends on a day where they are feeling great, or can be present to your needs and your shame, what if you are a "gusher," and you are at the beginning stages of dealing with your inadequacy issues, and you feel shame "a lot"? You can become an emotional drain to them, and push them away. I wanted some more information about self-soothing in shame situations, or how to manage connecting with friends in those moments.
I am still not sure how I am going to be able integrate this intellectual understanding into a daily practice. When I do something "wrong", especially something I have done wrong a hundred times before, will I be able to lean into the guilt, instead of the shame? Will I be able to lean into the vulnerability? Will I be able to be present to the vulnerability around me?

I know a big part of this is simply practice. And finding strategies that resonate. But the first step for me is an intellectual understanding, and this is certainly worth reading if that is something that is important to you.

Supplementary Materials:

-I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power: Brene's other book. Really great book about shame - I didn't know how important shame was until I read this, but trust me, it is very important and taught me a TON.
-Emotional Freedom: Liberate Yourself from Negative Emotions and Transform Your Life:talks about the "gusher", but you can get the quick version in this article in the huffington post website called: Judith Orloff MD: Are You an Emotional Gusher? (Amazon won't let me post the link, but searching should easily pull it up)
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309 of 347 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2010
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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246 of 289 people found the following review helpful
on October 2, 2010
I have just purchased 40 more copies to give to my closest friends and clients! This book heralds the solid research of Dr. Brene Brown and leads us toward an authentic approach to living a life devoid of the many misguided concepts of "personal perfectionism". Every human on the planet should read this book, then read it again with your spouse and adult children. Both this and her previous book will live in my library for the rest of my life.
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465 of 562 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2011
This isn't a bad book if you don't mind that it reads like a blog and is as deep as most blogs. First, it has 120 pages of text, plus blank pages, lots of white space, and some notes. Amazon has the page count completely wrong (as of Feb 2011, they list it at 260 pages). The author takes on large topics but doesn't go far with any of them. The chapter on "Cultivating Creativity" is about 4-1/2 pages. The one sub-titled "Letting Go of Perfectionism," presumably the focus of the book, is 7 pages. To be fair, there is a 17-page chapter. Within each chapter there's a brief discussion of the topic plus a few anecdotes--mostly from the author's life--some quotes from other people's work, a few references to the author's own research, and then a little advice. Although she says she's collected 10,000 stories in her research, she shares almost none of them here nor does she back up most of her assertions with evidence, studies, etc. For example, she says you can't have resilience ("the capacity to overcome adversity") if you aren't religious or spiritual ("recognizing and celebrating that we are all inextricably connected to each other by a power greater than all of us...") but gives no basis for it.
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79 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2011
Let me first say, I listened to the audiobook version of this book. If you're anything like I am (and by that, I mean you have a book case or two full of books that were excitedly and passionately purchased because you knew how good they'd be..., but are now collecting dust, and have been since the day you cleaned up your apartment and stacked them there), ...If you're anything like that.. buy the audio version. You NEED to hear this book. It's perfect for that 20 minute drive to work (or wherever), it's easy-to-digest (but by no means "light" in context), and it brought out a range of emotions in me. There were many times I'd press the "rewind 30 seconds" button to hear her repeat what she'd just said. It even brought tears to my eyes once while I was driving to work. It helped me to go through each day with a more positive outlook and a contemplative mood, but a joyful mood. I shared it with my friends and rejoiced a few days later as they told me how much they loved it, too. I asked my boyfriend to sit and listen to one particular part on "numbing" and being a "take-the-edge-off-aholic". That's the part that made me cry. It struck a chord with me.. just like many other parts of this book did. Fittingly, the author is very real and candid and... authentic ;) about everything, which I really appreciated.

Loved it. I'm left inspired... and hopeful that I can soon find another book that's half as amazing.

One last thing - I kinda feel like the title is a bit misleading. I think, in my opinion, it's less about "gifts" of imperfection, and more of an all-around "how to live authentically and fully and really love... your life." Perhaps that was just how I experienced it, but it's definitely not a depressing or "Lets talk about all of our problems and sucky parts of who we are, and then get crap advice on those 'flaws'.." book. It's uplifting and widely applicable to... everyone. When I recommend it to friends, I tell them to browse the chapter titles for a better idea of what it's about.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2012
I had read Brown's "It's not just me.." and thought it was terrific so I ordered this book with enthusiasm. However, this book was partly redundant to the first and a bit frothy. The underlying concepts are still good but I felt that "It's not just me.." was much more meaty. The material in that book was explained more completely and was much more useful.

Also, for this book, I got the audio book, and was dissappointed with the reader. If you have seen Brene speak on YouTube her delivery is terrific and it is part of the tone of her message. The reader did not capture, and in someways undermined, the message of the book.
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67 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2012
I started out really hopeful because I had read the positive reviews and the first chapters described how she used to be a perfectionist and she's highly logical and analytical and that sounds like me. She said her goal in the book is to provide a guide to becoming whole hearted, but she falls far short of that. She describes in general terms what the different aspects of being wholehearted are, but doesn't give very many concrete examples or suggestions. In describing a painful public speaking experience she had, she says, "I don't do how-to." I can see why she doesn't focus exclusively on tips and techniques, but I don't understand why she doesn't add more information on how to progress towards wholeheartedness in addition to the information she has. It ends up being a very short and superficial book. For example, she mentions various books scattered in the text, but doesn't have a list of resources and recommended reading at the end. She mentions that when you're feeling shame, you should reach out to someone and share your story. But she doesn't have suggestions on how to start that conversation if you're not in the habit of doing things like that. She mentions that she got a therapist to help her become wholehearted, but she doesn't discuss whether she recommends other people do that. If so, how do you find a good therapist? What will the therapist do for you? If not, what are other ways that you can get emotional support and stay on the right path? Without these specifics, the book is not very helpful.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2015
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.

-well-organized content. topics overlap somewhat (of course), but they are introduced in the form of very manageable daily 'guideposts'.
-content is qualitative research-based. I think this is the right approach, since qualitative research is well-suited to derive meaning from the experiences of people.
-writing style is down-to-earth, clear, and very humorous at times.
-the book is relatively inexpensive.
-the approach of tackling 'obstacles' of thinking that prevent wholehearted living.
-realistic expectations of the results of reading this book.
-comprehensive treatment of the elements of wholehearted living.
-the persuasiveness of pretty much every guidepost.

-for the uninitiated (read: myself), I thought that guidepost 8 wasn't as clear in defining the concept of stillness.
-umm.. I'll have to get back to you on this one.

I would like to conclude with a few things that convince me that something in this book has made profound changes. First, I grew-up with a very domineering father and reading this book has made me truly comfortable with him for the first time in my life. Second, I NEVER danced at a bar without having some 'liquid courage' to prime me. After reading, I danced several songs (badly, of course ;-) ) and truly enjoyed myself. Third, because of my balding, etc. I always felt a little too self-conscious to dare flirting with some very beautiful ladies that I've met. Not any more.

These are just a few thoughts, but I hope that they speak to someone out there.
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