The Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown

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The Gift of Imperfection - Brené Brown“Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are”

For me, this book was ‘The One’, the book which genuinely felt as though it has been written specifically for me, the dog ears and coffee rings are testimony to that. I was a massive Brené Brown fan from the get-go – you’ll see a review of her TED Talk – and her blend of knowledge and just being human and funny knocks my socks off every time!

It’s actually quite emotional going back to review this book after really embracing the ideas and working very, very hard for over four years now to make them real in my life. When I picked up the book, I was at the very beginning of a ‘well-being and life transformation’, which became somewhat of a rollercoaster over time. In the months ahead I will most definitely explore many elements from this book as I share my learning and experience, for the book review today I want to focus on my ‘aha moment’ from the first read.

What ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ opened up for me – well more like ‘cracked wide open’ – was the idea of ‘Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness’. This was ‘Guidepost #3’ in the book, ‘Cultivating a Resilient Spirit’, and it transformed the way I saw resilience and myself.     At the heart of this chapter was the “not enough” voice in our heads which gets in the way of us being truly resilient. It’s the inner voice which just makes what’s difficult so much harder and over time leaves us feeling very alone, reading this chapter normalised so many things I’d been experiencing, and I honestly did start to cry with relief at one point.  That’s never happened to me with a non-fiction book before, unlike fiction – where I cried buckets when Dobbie the house-elf died in Harry Potter.

So what was I crying about? This particular part of the book looked at how we numb ourselves ‘to take the edge of’ – sadness, or grief, or fear or despair. I’d always thought that only referred to drinking yourself into oblivion or doing drugs (I do neither), but for me, it can be food, TV, work, staying busy, planning, caretaking etc.  Oh dear god, I realised that I had taken numbing to an Olympic level and I was doing my very best to outrun vulnerability and uncertainty. That was an enlightening and challenging aha moment.

Of course, I didn’t resolve those issues overnight, but I know for a fact that this was the breakthrough book for me in making sense of what was going on. I’m delighted that my 16-year-old daughter Iona loves Brené’s work too, and it’s also helped her navigate some difficult things in life.  What’s lovely is, after you read the book there are excellent resources available from Brené Brown.

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