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

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4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  18,958 ratings  ·  1,640 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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Quiet by Susan CainEat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth GilbertDaring Greatly by Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection by Brené BrownThe Last Lecture by Randy Pausch
books from TED
4th out of 73 books — 226 voters
The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené BrownDaring Greatly by Brené BrownI Thought It Was Just Me (But It Isn't) by Brené BrownHappy Divorce by Rossana CondoleoThe Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Books to help Women Live Healthy and Happy
1st out of 55 books — 53 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Bdalton
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
...more
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
Lara
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)
Update:

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

I wrote this on Brené's Facebook page:

"Brené,

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 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermatil...) and I've tried everything from therapists, medication and herbal supplements to help manage
...more
Anna
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
Patty
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
...more
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
...more
Hanne
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
...more
Froztwolf
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
...more
Lisa
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
Raven
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
EJ
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
...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
...more
Megankellie
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
Amalia
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'
...more
Betty
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
Tamara
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
...more
Jeannine
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
...more
Stephanie
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.
Deirdre
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
Joanna
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
Kendra
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
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
...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
...more
Eileen Souza
I purchased this book after being significantly influenced by Brene Brown's Ted Talk (http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bre...) on vulnerability. I watch Ted Talks daily, and I can tell you that this was the most impactful talk I've ever experienced. She was able to be funny, and honest, and extremely informative while putting it all out on the table about herself. I shared it with several friends, and each of them had their own significant response to the talk. Watch it, it's a great 20 minutes ...more
Deb
**What a gift**

If you struggle with fears of not being good enough and feeling as if you are not who you “should” be, reading Brené Brown’s _The Gifts of Imperfection_ may just be the perfect gift to give yourself.

The heart-and-soul of Brené’s approach to embracing ourselves (imperfections and all!) is the concept of wholehearted living:
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the
...more
Crys Williams
I stayed up into the wee morning hours to finish this book. I saw myself in just about everything she said...my 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
...more
Tyler Clemons
I downloaded this book to my Kindle after being blown away by Brene Brown's TED Talk "The Power of Vulnerability" (see it here - Well worth your time in its own right, and an excellent preview of the ideas expounded upon in the book).

For such a short little book, Brown's undertaking is ambitious: she seeks no less than to give concrete definitions to such overused but ill-understood words as "love," "belonging," "shame," "vulnerability," and "creativity" and to determine the ways in which such
...more
Tilara
In a perfect world, I would be able to give this book to everyone that I love and care about this holiday season. I can unreservedly recommend this book as the best self-help book I have ever had the sheer pleasure of reading. I had so many aha moments that I lost count. They were so compelling that I wrote them on index cards. When my shame meter starts running on overdrive they serve as calming flashcards that turn off my revving emotional motor.

Brene's breaks through the emotional blur of lif
...more
Aubrey
As with any book I read and review, my review is based on my enjoyment of a book and what I gained from it (the latter particularly with non-fiction, though it applies to fiction to) not the "quality" of writing.

This book was more of a 2.5/5.0 for me simply because I had read and learned a lot of it already, some of which I got from books she referenced. I just felt like it had been said again and again. But I think reviewing a non-fiction book can sometimes be touchy because what we get from it
...more
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'14 Summer Reading -- Brown 2 11 Jul 11, 2014 07:51PM  
'14 Summer Reading -- Brown 1 2 Jul 11, 2014 07:41PM  
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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
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 Gifts of Imperfect Parenting: Raising Children with Courage, Compassion, and Connection Men, Women & Worthiness: The Experience of Shame and the Power of Being Enough Women & Shame: Reaching Out, Speaking Truths and Building Connection

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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.”
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“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.” 283 likes
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