The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown was a book I finished last week and wanted to write a longer book review about than I normally do.
In this book Brown deals with the topic of shame and the havoc that reeks in our lives and how we can overcome this.
Shame is a concept that I am growing more and more in my understanding of -- oh not because I haven't experienced it -- rather because I didn't know the proper definition of my many, many experiences of it.
Here is Brown's definition of shame:
"Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging."
Then, a great chandelier went on in my head when Brown said:
"Shame is the birthplace of perfectionism.....Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame."
My childhood and my subsequent adult behaviors made a whole lot more sense to me after reading that! I was conditioned to run from pain of any sort. Brown says that when we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we also loose joy.
She spends time speaking about "shame resilience" which means how to deal with the feelings of shame when it rears its ugly head -- either because someone has just shamed us now, or because we go on believing the voice in our head telling us we are shameful. (Shame loves secrecy, silence, and judgment.)
In a nutshell, shame resilience means: naming the shame (acknowledging it), talking about it, owning this part of your life story, sharing with a trusted person, and using the word shame for what it is. This involves lots of courage, which Brown speaks at length about throughout the book.
Brown also speaks about joy, and urges us onto a life of gratitude because gratitude breeds joy. She goes on to subjects such as comparison, fear, creativity, and letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol. She encourages us to laugh, dance, and sing; to find ways to use our gifts because this brings with it joy and fulfillment.
Brown ends with this question:
"What is the greater risk? Letting go of what people think or letting go of how I feel, what I believe, and who I am?"
In short, this was an excellent, and very helpful book. I look forward to reading more by this author. We do not share the same theological basis but I think you can take your own worldview and filter hers through yours. Most importantly, in dealing with shame, I think it is vital to come to a solid understanding of God's never failing, and unconditional, love for His children.
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