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I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn't): Telling the Truth About Perfectionism, Inadequacy, and Power [Paperback]
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The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. We spend too much precious time and energy managing perception and creating carefully edited versions of ourselves to show to the world. As hard as we try, we can't seem to turn off the tapes that fill our heads with messages like "Never good enough!" and "What will people think?"
Top Customer Reviews
This book didn't make me feel less alone. It did make me realize, though, that to have true empathy with someone you need to realize you aren't there to fix or better them. You're there to listen, and hear what they are ashamed of, and help them with that. And recognize the same feelings (for whatever reasons you have) in yourself.
But all of this - courage, compassion, connection - it's very hard in our anti-vulnerable, I'm better than you, I did everything on my own culture. It doesn't mean the work isn't worth it, though.
I would only have liked to hear more on her research on men. I think we think of men as in such power and control, so we don't afford them the vulnerability and anxieties we do with women. I can only imagine the shame men feel when jobless, single, different in any way than the norm - and how much they are encouraged to keep that inside.
This book is powerful in its scope and impact as it lays out what shame is, how women respond to shame, and how women can respond differently to shame in order to become shame resilient.
Brené helps women identify what their shame triggers are, how to develop a critical awareness about how shame is impacted by larger forces in our lives, such as media images of extremely thin and beautiful women, how women can reach out to others, and how to learn to "speak shame."
As Brené was writing the book and I was reading early drafts, I was already learning to apply her concepts to my life. For instance, previously when I experienced a shameful moment I would curl up in a little ball of pain, constantly replay the shamming incident in my head, castigate myself over and over, and then wait for the passage of time to relieve some of my symptoms, although even years later I could get flashbacks of the event and the accompanying pain. Today, due to Brené and her book, I react very differently. I call multiple friends and share my painful story and seek out comfort, caring, and empathy. I begin to "contexualize" the shameful event, that is, I see how political, economic, and social forces have shaped my personal experiences. For instance, that expectation that women must be "superwoman" juggling kids, work, partners" perfectly, which is an unreasonable expectation that no woman can live up to. That helps put my experience into context and allow me to see the broader picture.
This book is a gift to women from a committed scholar and researcher. Although the hype on many books is that "it will change your life," this book has that potential. And it doesn't hurt that it is written in an accessible, friendly tone with many stories to illustrate her ideas that will make you both laugh and cry.
I highly recommend the book. I predict it will be one of those books you read and then go out and buy for your mother and sisters and best friend. I know I did.
Brown states in the beginning that you are going to have feelings when you read this and you are going to be uncomfortable and that was very much the case for me. I keep a journal and I found that when I started reading this I started having all these emotions and feelings and things started taking on a whole new light and I have been journaling what seems like nonstop as I go along in this book. This is the sort of book that you are going to want to go slow through and you will find yourself having AHA moments, and rereading pages over and over again and if you are like me you are going to have to stop and take a breather and process what you are discovering about yourself. To be clear - it's not philosophical, it's not over your head, it's not like A New Earth. :) It's so real, and down.to.Earth that you will want to buy a copy for every person you know.
My favorite thing about Brene Brown in her interview was when she said that she didn't want to be a self-helper or a therapist for all her readers - but instead she just wanted to give us words and a vocabulary to better describe and understand what we are feeling. And she absolutely does that.