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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  25,842 ratings  ·  2,064 reviews
Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone el ...more
Paperback, 138 pages
Published August 27th 2010 by Hazelden (first published January 1st 2010)
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Eric Merrill Try going to your library's website and see if they have an ebook program like with overdrive. Then you can borrow it and read it on kindle or in…moreTry going to your library's website and see if they have an ebook program like with overdrive. Then you can borrow it and read it on kindle or in other formats (including online or in the kindle desktop app)(less)
Bookidodo Everything in life is imperfect.
Accepting to see that is a blessing.
Quiet by Susan CainEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertDaring Greatly by Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection by Brené BrownThe Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
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4th out of 74 books — 266 voters
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené BrownDaring Greatly by Brené BrownI Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't) by Brené BrownThe Happiness Project by Gretchen RubinSelf-Compassion by Kristin Neff
Books to help Women Live Healthy and Happy
1st out of 60 books — 83 voters

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Community Reviews

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I read this book after watching Brown's TED talk on vulnerability. The TED talk was shown as the last exercise for a leadership class at work. The talk was intriguing and I wanted to know more. Also, I noted that many of the comments regarding this fairly brief talk were often negative. I found the talk inspiring so I wanted to see if there was any validity to the negative comments.

The question that I had in my mind was why was this shown at work? Does Brown suggest that people should be vulnera
Ed McKeogh
I've read more than my fair share of "self-help" literature, so I can assert with conviction that this is not a self-help book. Instead, it's a revelation book. Each chapter triggered numerous "ah-Ha!" moments for me, because Dr. Brown goes a step (or two, or five) beyond the common way of looking at or framing an issue to reveal the interconnectedness of elements that stall or sabotage our efforts to live a more satisfying life. Instead of the "that doesn't quite resonate" vibe I often get from ...more
You may have noticed a theme in my last couple posts. I'm rundown, overwhelmed and I realize that, while my priorities are right in my head, they aren't in reality. So the book I'm reviewing today really came at a perfect time in my own personal crisis. In fact, as I was reading along yesterday (yes, I totally procrastinated reading it due to other books taking up my precious little reading time) I thought to myself, "This book could be companion material for President Uchtdorf's talk at confere ...more
Dani (The Pluviophile Reader)

This book changed my life. Dramatic as it sounds, it's true.

I wrote this on Brené's Facebook page:


I've just about finished your book "The Gifts of Imperfection" which I discovered after watching you speak on TED talks and I can honestly say that this book is helping me completely change my life.

I suffer(ed) from a condition called Dermatillomania ( and I've tried everything from therapists, medication and herbal supplements to help manage
I really like Brene Brown--she gave a terrific and funny TED talk about her research concerning the importance of vulnerability, of imperfection, of failure, and so I read her book. I think her thesis is superb, her research about shame and wholeheartedness really interesting, and the message of the book necessary to modern life. But! I can't help it. I hoped for a little more "perfectionism" in the writing (and structuring! of the book as a whole) which could have used another round or two of e ...more
I am having a hard time writing this review, probably for two reasons. First of all, there is so much that I liked in this book that I know I will be reading it again. If the copy I read had been mine, I might have underlined most of the book.

The second reason that I am struggling here is that I haven't done anything with what I have learned. I have now read two books by Brown; she has pointed out some things I need to be doing for myself and I am resisting following her lead. I know that being
Matt Evans
Listening to this book, I felt like I was being lectured to by the kind of person who concludes her cell-phone's voicemail with the word, "namaste" -- a Hindi word that means 'peace.' Actually, 'namaste" also signifies that its user knows an exotic Asian concept-word. Learn from me, says the word 'namaste,' let me guru you. Let me guru you. That’s the simplest way to understand this book.

Gifts of Imperfection, then, is the kind of book that does two simultaneous, paradoxical things:

One. Gifts of
Diane Librarian
I had to read this for work, but even without the burden of assigned reading, I would not have liked this book. It feels slight, filled with padded stories about shame and vulnerability and the author's reaction to said shame and vulnerability. (And sometimes the author's reaction to her reaction to the shame. Sigh.)

I shall now summarize the book's precepts: Feel Good About Yourself. Be Compassionate and Grateful. Blah blah Laugh Dance Love blah blah.

The book is only about 130 pages and can be r
It’s true, I’m a sucker for social science research: the human mind just intrigues me like there is not tomorrow; and the emotional side even more so than the rational one. After accidentally seeing Brené Brown’s TED speech for a second time this week, I was intrigued enough to pick up her books.

Unfortunately her book is nowhere near as exciting. First of all, for someone who claims to be an obsessive organizer, there is a remarkable lack of structure in her book. It seems more like a collectio
It is quite unfortunate how much the author seems to be stuck in the write style appropriate to blogs, because this book is horribly structured. Each of the chapters tackles a huge subject in a few pages. They have only a marginal connection to one another and there is no flow throughout the book, often leaving the reader confused.

I say this is unfortunate not just because I spent my time reading the book, but because it contains a lot of good information based on the authors research. It conta
I read this after geeking out hard because of her TED talk. I think there is a certain point in some these books where you have to have a big fold out section that says in type as big as your face: DO YOU HAVE MONEY? and also DO YOU HAVE A FAMILY? and if you say no, the last 25% of the book will disintegrate or turn into dust. The first 75% was great, relevant, filled with good thoughts and information and quotable stuff. Then she gets to the "my husband's on call a lot" and "my kids dance in th ...more
I came to this book after watching Brown's TED talk on vulnerability and seeing this book mentioned elsewhere online. The messages of this book are so very important and they really spoke to me. The idea that we are worthy: "The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites." Some of the prerequisites she mentions are "I'll be worthy when I lose twenty pounds," "I'll be worthy if everyone thinks I'm a good parent," ...more
A little disclaimer: The title isn’t fair to this book. It gives the Illusion this is a self help book. In my opinion its more about human behavior and embracing the life you have.

After watching a Brene Brown TEDtalk I purchased her most recent book, Daring Greatly. Her authenticity or pursuit of it, is what kept my attention.

A lot of authors who write self-help oriented books frustrate me with the façade of perfection. You can just see the word “Namaste” ooze out of their pores. Their seemingly
Ann Lewis
I had to mark this as read to get if off my list. Actually I had to abort the read. Just could not relate to a word of it at all. I feel like this author is speaking a different language. I have a hard time believing anybody really CARES that much about what others think about them. It's amazing to me. A Whole book telling you it's OK if you're not who someone wants you to be?? I feel like saying "GET A LIFE!"
I also Really had trouble with the writing. This author reminds us on almost every sing
Brene Brown is not the typical self help guru. "And you know how there are people that, when they realize that vulnerability and tenderness are important that they surrender and walk into it? A. That's not me. B. I don't even hang out with people like that." When I heard Brown say this in a recent TED talk, I knew she was the struggling perfectionist I could take advice about letting go from. I find it much harder buy into life advice from someone who hasn't also completely effed it up like me. ...more
A couple of general points that were interesting to consider--such as setting boundaries for yourself and holding people accountable for their behaviors. This means we should address specific actions by the people in our lives, not attack who they are. We often convince ourselves that someone is hateful or deserving of our dislike when what we really have issue with is a something they've done or some way they've behaved. However by failing to establish our own boundaries (or standards) we feel ...more
Stephanie R
I actually rate this book 4 1/2 stars.

I think what Brown has to say is incredibly important. Our society is permeated by shame; it destroys our mental and physical health and sickens our ability to connect with one another. My own life has been crippled by shame that was instilled in me at birth.

Brown is very easy to relate to and her anecdotes are charming (you must see her TED talks). I am an extremely anxious person and I've read many, many self-help books. None of them have made an impressio
You know books that come along at just the right time and really hit you where you are?
Yep, this was one of those for me.
The fact that this book helps provide a guide that is based upon research (well-designed qualitative research) is terrific; the science gives you the bigger picture of how this all works.
My one challenge while reading it is that I wanted to simply devour it, read it all in one or two settings- something that doesn't work for a book like this that demands introspection if you'
Some good points, but most of the suggested solutions are pretty obvious. (Relax, play, center yourself spiritually whatever that means to you, stop striving, do something creative, blah blah blah).

It really annoyed me that she capitalized Wholehearted throughout the whole book. I would not be surprised to see a whole Wholehearted(tm) product line in stores soon. Journals! Notecards! Classes!

Ah well. Whatever works for you.

Cute slogans and catchphrases don't work for me. They turn me off.

Is it
Sep 02, 2013 Tamara rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Tamara by: Angie
Definitely had the self-help vibe, but for me, it didn't discount the useful knowledge housed within.

Also, due to a random quote by Bell Hooks, I am now inspired to go back and re-read everything she ever wrote.

Side note: One of my literary pet peeves is authors constantly quoting themselves by referring back to their earlier works. It just seems a bit too cannibalistic for my taste.

Favorite Quotes

You learn courage by couraging.

Courage originally meant "To speak one's mind by telling all one
Crys Wood
I stayed up into the wee morning hours to finish this book. I saw myself in just about everything she perfectionism and such. I nodded and teared up and sighed a lot, so it was a heartbreaking read but an important one.

Felt grand to put her wise words into practice today: Bought a bathing suit and swam for the first time in 8 or 9 years and didn't care a whipstitch about my chunky thighs and Buddha belly :-) I'm transformed by the read, and how nice that I could thank her directly on T
This book is a great starting point for those who think they can strive for perfection or that achievement in the world's eyes will bring fulfillment. Great examples, well-conveyed research, and good tips for getting started on living with gratitude and joy rather than with workaholism and shame.
Jun 19, 2012 Stephanie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: perfectionists
Recommended to Stephanie by: Barbara Kraemer
This title was South Austin Spiritual Book Group's selection for June of 2012.

Brown is the ultimately readable social researcher and her information is immediately useful.
I read this book on the strong recommendation of Brennan. I struggled with it a little bit. I found that I wanted to go deeper into some subjects. I also struggled with the flow of the book. I felt like the narrative of the chapters moved from one thing to another without a clear flow. This may have been compounded by the fact that I was listening to the audiobook. I did truly agree with basically all the ideas that she presented in the book, and had been working on some of them on my own before ...more
After reading this, I can't help but think that Brown must be a better speaker than writer. I would have given her writing only one or two stars. To me it felt disorganized and choppy, almost thrown together. Also, she didn't explain the research behind her ideas very well which left me with a lot of unanswered questions.

That being said, I really liked many of the ideas in her book. Though I've heard some of them before, they are the kind of things it's good to hear more than once. Among other t
I felt that the author's writing and insights were somewhat disjointed and scattered. The book didn't flow well from beginning to end and has a serious drop off in relevance in the final chapters. I did think a lot of the advice was truly useful and important, but this information was given in small snippets amongst a large amount of other information which was less useful and not very helpful.

It bothered me that throughout the book that the author kept talking about the years and years of quali
Today was a hard day in work, I felt like a let people down and stuff was all going skew. I decided to tidy my desk and try to gain some control over the day. I came across this book that had been requested and then rejected by another authority (this is part of my job, inter-library loans). I had put it aside because it looked interesting and today I happened on it. And it was the right book. I have to be kinder to me than I have been and I need to let go of trying to do everything in a "perfec ...more
One cool thing about being a public librarian is that I've been getting exposure to books that would not normally be in my peripheral otherwise. I was drawn to the title of this one. I secretly hoped that I would be convinced of everything it said ("gifts" of imperfection? Being happy with just "who I am"? Hmmmm...), but deep-down, I doubted it. I didn't plan on posting this to my GoodReads, because I thought reading a "self-help" book was something I should be ashamed of, something that belied ...more
I'm not a perfectionist. But I am a full on shamer. I shame myself constantly and that has led to years and years of being self-conscious. I also worry what other people think. (hence my social anxiety). This book helps you understand that you can let go of all the random thoughts of how you think you should behave and just be you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Allow yourself to be authentic. To let go of who we are suppose to be, and just be. Know who and what your accountable for. Know who ...more
Kate Ditzler
This book is going to be reread soon, practically immediately. What makes this book fascinating is that it puts concepts into dyads -- x is what you want to cultivate, and y is what is keeping you from it. For example, Authenticity is something you want to cultivate, but What Other People Think is what keeps you from it.

Brené Brown is a qualitative researcher who studies shame, fear, and vulnerability. In the course of her research, she discovered two lists: a list of things that people who liv
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Dr. Brené Brown is a writer, researcher, and educator. She is a member of the research faculty at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work where she has spent the past ten years studying connection - specifically authenticity, belonging, and shame, and the affect these powerful emotions have on the way we live, love, parent, work and build relationships.

Dr. Brown teaches graduate
More about Brené Brown...
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead I Thought It Was Just Me: Women Reclaiming Power and Courage in a Culture of Shame The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings of Authenticity, Connections and Courage The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection Men, Women & Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough

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“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.

Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.

Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It's about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” 348 likes
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