Before I dive into this book, specifically, I have to give you some context on my introduction to Brené Brown. I’m sure many of you have heard of her work and research on shame and vulnerability. If not, take 20 minutes sometime today to sit and watch this TED Talk.
When I was on maternity leave this past summer, I had lots of time to think about my life, my goals, my imperfections and what I wanted to do about them. While searching for baby sleep training books one day, I came across this book, The Gifts of Imperfection, and it might as well have had my name written in bold across the front of it. Everything about this title felt like an answer to my life. So many of the things I’ve struggled with have somehow always come back to a need to “fix” my weaknesses and imperfections so I can be perfect and get on with my life.
Oh, it doesn’t work that way?
When I started reading this book, I went on a Brené Brown Googling spree and found her TED Talks, her other books, her website, and recently, her Instagram. Somehow everything she has written and spoken about feels like it was written just for me.
And I’m realizing I’m not the only one.
Her work is resonating more and more because the busyness of our social-media driven lives is causing us to forget that the things we’re wired for (love and belonging) are a birthright, not something we have to earn through popularity or status.
What’s even crazier, when I started back at work in late August, Adobe announced it’s first-ever Women’s Summit to be held a few weeks later in mid-September. The keynote speaker? Dr. Brené Brown.
It was fate.
I can’t tell you how giddy I was. And you bet your boots it was the most enlightening, uplifting, soul-quenching keynote I’ve ever listened to in a business setting.
But again, her research unraveled a topic that I’ve struggled with my whole life. I just didn’t fully understand what I was experiencing until she came along and labeled it, organized it and explained it so well.
So prepare yourself to see many more Brené Brown references and quotes on Little Miss Fearless this year. I am excited to help people to see their imperfections in a different way and spread inspiration for more self-love and self-acceptance. We’re all worthy of it, we just need to believe we are.
I couldn’t possibly par down the number of things I’ve learned from this book to only 7 (which is why you’ll be hearing more), but for the sake of a book review, here are 7 things you’ll get out of it if you choose to read it, too. And I highly recommend that you do. ;)
- Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. It’s the fear of not being good enough. Shame is universal. We all have it and we’re all uncomfortable talking about it. But the less we talk about it, the more we have it.
- Shame is the birthplace of perfectionism. Shame loves perfectionists because it’s so easy to keep us quiet. We’re afraid that people won’t like us if they know the truth about who we are, where we come from, what we believe, how much we’re struggling.
- Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame. It’s a shield.
- Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at it’s 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?).
- Life paralysis refers to all of the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect.
- Exploring our fears and changing our self-talk are two critical steps in overcoming perfectionism.
- Courage is contagious. You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs.
Maybe these are things you already knew. Maybe you needed the reminders. Perhaps you were expecting some how-to’s to follow? My point in sharing these 7 learnings is to shed some light on the need to better understand the complexities of shame, perfectionism and the fear of not being enough. It’s a messy topic. Life is messy. But the more we understand, the easier it is to navigate our fears and insecurities. We become more courageous, more compassionate, more resilient, more alive.
More to come. ;)
Are you a Brené Brown fan? Let’s chat! We were destined to be friends.