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Customer Review

186 of 199 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book that Changed My Life, March 6, 2012
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This review is from: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are (Paperback)
-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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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 26, 2013 1:24:07 PM PST
Allison says:
I really love the thoughtfulness you put into this review and your willingness to reveal some of your own vulnerabilities. You clearly spoke from your heart, and the people in your life are very lucky to have you.

Posted on Feb 7, 2014 8:09:12 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Feb 7, 2014 8:32:32 AM PST]

Posted on May 28, 2014 7:59:52 PM PDT
This may be coming a little late; however, you can find a 12 step meeting to share your feelings. You will always have a listening ear there and even possibly make some friends. You'll find yourself wanting to go back, some groups are really very powerful and healing.

Posted on Aug 24, 2014 8:01:23 PM PDT
Life Student says:
Wonderful review on this book - I actually just heard about it through a quick interview segment the Author had with Oprah. In it she talks about who NOT to share your shame with. I am not sure if Amazon will let me post the link itself - so just in case the title of the YouTube post is '6 Types of People Who Do Not Deserve To Hear Your Shame Story - Super Soul Sunday - OWN' Here is the link -

Thanks again for your review - looks like I have an interesting read to add to my collection.

Posted on Sep 4, 2015 7:09:50 PM PDT
Abacus says:
Thank you for the review. I hesitate to purchase more books of this sort because they often jump-start me intellectually, which is my typical interface with the world, but then leave me unsure of what to do with all the raw, messy feelings that come up with the process. You hit on that exact concern/experience beautifully. This review alone makes me want to read this book, as well as look into the supplementary items you mentioned.
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