In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, PhD, a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she’s learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness. In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, and to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.
- How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something even more essential to living a wholehearted life: loving ourselves. Knowledge is important, but only if we’re kind and gentle with ourselves as we work to discover who we are.
- Practising courage, compassion and connection in our daily life is how we cultivate worthiness.
- Courage means willing to risk being vulnerable and disappointed. Playing down the exciting stuff doesn’t take the pain away when it doesn’t happen. It also creates a lot of isolation,
- Courage has a ripple effect- Each time we choose courage, we make everybody around us a little better and the world a little brave.
- Compassion involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently towards what scares us. To practice acceptance and compassion, we need boundaries and accountability.
Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgement, and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
- Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand, but we’re very reluctant to reach out for help when we need it ourselves. Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment to receiving help, we attach judgement to giving help.
- If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.
- ‘Fitting in’ gets in the way of ‘Belonging’. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.
- If we want to live and love with our whole hearts, and if we want to engage with the world from a place of worthiness, we have to talk about things that get in the way -especially shame, fear and vulnerability.
Authenticity is the daily practise of letting go of who we think we are supposed to be and embrace who we are. Choosing authenticity means:
- Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.
- Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle.
- Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging that can only happen when we believe we are enough.
- It’s easy to attack and criticize someone while he or she is risk taking - voicing a new opinion or trying something new. Cruelty is cheap, easy and rampant. As we struggle to be authentic and brave, it’s important to remember that cruelty always hurts, even if the criticisms are untrue. The problem is that when we don’t care at all what people think and we’re immune to hurt, we are also ineffective at connecting. Courage is telling our story, not being immune to criticism. Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection.
When facing a vulnerable situation:
- Get Deliberate: Stand your ground
- Get Inspired: by everyone who shares their work and opinions with the world. Courage is contagious.
- Get Going:. Make authenticity your number one goal. You will not regret it. You might get you feelings hurt but you’ll rarely feel shame.
- Shame is the birthplace of perfection. Perfection is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at is 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?).
- Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together. Imperfectly, but together
- Hope is learned. It is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities.
- Power is the ability to effect change
- When we numb out the negative experiences and emotions, we engage less in the positive emotions as well.
- Happiness is tied to circumstance, but joyfulness is tied to spirit and gratitude. Joyful people practise gratitude. Joy and gratitude can be very vulnerable and intense experiences.
- We’re afraid to lose what we love the most, and we hate that there are no gurantees. We think that not being grateful and not feeling joy will make it hurt less. We’re wrong. If we’re not practising gratitude and allowing ourselves to know joy, we’re missing out on the two things that will actually sustain us during the inevitable hard time.
- Intuition is a rapid-fire, unconscious associating process.
- Comparison is all about conformity and competition. It is difficult to make time for the important things such as creativity, gratitude, joy and authenticity when we’re spending enormous amounts of energy conforming and competing.
- Comparison is the thief of happiness. Creativity, which is the expression of our originality, helps us stay mindful that what we bring to the world is completely original and cannot be compared.
- Calm - is creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity. Anxiety is contagious, but so is calm.
- Laughter, song and dance are essential to our soul-care. Make time and space for them in you lives,