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

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

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

4.5/5 (429 évaluations)
192 pages
3 heures
Sep 20, 2010

Note de l'éditeur

Your imperfections are your strengths…

Self-acceptance is a powerful step on the path to becoming your best self. Brené Brown helps you see that your perceived weaknesses are actually your strengths. Stop comparing your success to that of others and learn to love your imperfections.


From Scribd: About the Book

As we struggle to find our way amid a barrage of images and messaging - from society, our friends and family, our bosses and teachers - telling us what perfections should look like, Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection is a breath of fresh air.

Brown offers a new way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness, reminding readers that it's OK to not be perfect, while offering direction on this change using her 10 guideposts.

None of us is perfect, and The Gifts of Imperfection states loud and clear that it is better to be happy than it is to struggle for perfection.
Sep 20, 2010

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Aperçu du livre

The Gifts of Imperfection - Brené Brown

Cover: The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown, Ph.D, L.M.S.W.The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, Ph.D, L.M.S.W., Hazelden Publishing

Hazelden Publishing

Center City, Minnesota 55012

© 2010 by Brené Brown

All rights reserved. Published 2010

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning, or otherwise—without the express written permission of the publisher. Failure to comply with these terms may expose you to legal action and damages for copyright infringement.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Brown, C. Brené

The gifts of imperfection : let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are / by Brené Brown.

p. cm.

Includes bibliographical references.

ISBN 978-1-59285-849-1 (softcover)

1. Self-acceptance. 2. Self-esteem. I. Title.

BF575.S37B76 2010



Editor’s note

The names, details, and circumstances may have been changed to protect the privacy of those mentioned in this publication.

This publication is not intended as a substitute for the advice of health care professionals.

Cover design by David Spohn

Cover illustrations by Nicholas Wilton

To Steve, Ellen, and Charlie.

I love you with my whole heart.




Introduction: Wholehearted Living

Courage, Compassion, and Connection: The Gifts of Imperfection

Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough

The Things That Get in the Way

Guidepost #1

Cultivating Authenticity:

Letting Go of What People Think

Guidepost #2

Cultivating Self-Compassion:

Letting Go of Perfectionism

Guidepost #3

Cultivating a Resilient Spirit:

Letting Go of Numbing and Powerlessness

Guidepost #4

Cultivating Gratitude and Joy:

Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark

Guidepost #5

Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith:

Letting Go of the Need for Certainty

Guidepost #6

Cultivating Creativity:

Letting Go of Comparison

Guidepost #7

Cultivating Play and Rest:

Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth

Guidepost #8

Cultivating Calm and Stillness:

Letting Go of Anxiety as a Lifestyle

Guidepost #9

Cultivating Meaningful Work:

Letting Go of Self-Doubt and Supposed To

Guidepost #10

Cultivating Laughter, Song, and Dance:

Letting Go of Being Cool and Always in Control

Final Thoughts

About the Research Process: For Thrill-Seekers and Methodology Junkies


About the Author


Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.

Once you see a pattern, you can’t un-see it. Trust me, I’ve tried. But when the same truth keeps repeating itself, it’s hard to pretend that it’s just a coincidence. For example, no matter how hard I try to convince myself that I can function on six hours of sleep, anything less than eight hours leaves me impatient, anxious, and foraging for carbohydrates. It’s a pattern. I also have a terrible procrastination pattern: I always put off writing by reorganizing my entire house and spending way too much time and money buying office supplies and organizing systems. Every single time.

One reason it’s impossible to un-see trends is that our minds are engineered to seek out patterns and to assign meaning to them. Humans are a meaning-making species. And, for better or worse, my mind is actually fine-tuned to do this. I spent years training for it, and now it’s how I make my living.

As a researcher, I observe human behavior so I can identify and name the subtle connections, relationships, and patterns that help us make meaning of our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings.

I love what I do. Pattern hunting is wonderful work and, in fact, throughout my career, my attempts at un-seeing were strictly reserved for my personal life and those humbling vulnerabilities that I loved to deny. That all changed in November 2006, when the research that fills these pages smacked me upside the head. For the first time in my career, I was desperate to un-see my own research.

Up until that point, I had dedicated my career to studying difficult emotions like shame, fear, and vulnerability. I had written academic pieces on shame, developed a shame-resilience curriculum for mental health and addictions professionals, and written a book about shame resilience called I Thought It Was Just Me.¹

In the process of collecting thousands of stories from diverse men and women who lived all over the country—ranging in age from eighteen to eighty-seven—I saw new patterns that I wanted to know more about. Yes, we all struggle with shame and the fear of not being enough. And, yes, many of us are afraid to let our true selves be seen and known. But in this huge mound of data there was also story after story of men and women who were living these amazing and inspiring lives.

I heard stories about the power of embracing imperfection and vulnerability. I learned about the inextricable connection between joy and gratitude, and how things that I take for granted, like rest and play, are as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise. These research participants trusted themselves, and they talked about authenticity and love and belonging in a way that was completely new to me.

I wanted to look at these stories as a whole, so I grabbed a file and a Sharpie and wrote the first word that came to my mind on the tab: Wholehearted. I wasn’t sure what it meant yet, but I knew that these stories were about people living and loving with their whole hearts.

I had a lot of questions about Wholeheartedness. What did these folks value? How did they create all of this resilience in their lives? What were their main concerns and how did they resolve or address them? Can anyone create a Wholehearted life? What does it take to cultivate what we need? What gets in the way?

As I started analyzing the stories and looking for re-occurring themes, I realized that the patterns generally fell into one of two columns; for simplicity sake, I first labeled these Do and Don’t. The Do column was brimming with words like worthiness, rest, play, trust, faith, intuition, hope, authenticity, love, belonging, joy, gratitude, and creativity. The Don’t column was dripping with words like perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment, and scarcity.

I gasped the first time I stepped back from the poster paper and took it all in. It was the worst kind of sticker shock. I remember mumbling, No. No. No. How can this be?

Even though I wrote the lists, I was shocked to read them. When I code data, I go into deep researcher mode. My only focus is on accurately capturing what I heard in the stories. I don’t think about how I would say something, only how the research participants said it. I don’t think about what an experience would mean to me, only what it meant to the person who told me about it.

I sat in the red chair at my breakfast room table and stared at these two lists for a very long time. My eyes wandered up and down and across. I remember at one point I was actually sitting there with tears in my eyes and with my hand across my mouth, like someone had just delivered bad news.

And, in fact, it was bad news. I thought I’d find that Wholehearted people were just like me and doing all of the same things I was doing: working hard, following the rules, doing it until I got it right, always trying to know myself better, raising my kids exactly by the books…

After studying tough topics like shame for a decade, I truly believed that I deserved confirmation that I was living right.

But here’s the tough lesson that I learned that day (and every day since):

How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a Wholehearted life: loving ourselves.

Knowledge is important, but only if we’re being kind and gentle with ourselves as we work to discover who we are. Wholeheartedness is as much about embracing our tenderness and vulnerability as it is about developing knowledge and claiming power.

And perhaps the most painful lesson of that day hit me so hard that it took my breath away: It was clear from the data that we cannot give our children what we don’t have. Where we are on our journey of living and loving with our whole hearts is a much stronger indicator of parenting success than anything we can learn from how-to books.

This journey is equal parts heart work and head work, and as I sat there on that dreary November day, it was clear to me that I was lacking in my own heart work.

I finally stood up, grabbed my marker off the table, drew a line under the Don’t list, and then wrote the word me under the line. My struggles seemed to be perfectly characterized by the sum total of the list.

I folded my arms tightly across my chest, sunk deep down into my chair, and thought, This is just great. I’m living straight down the shit list.

I walked around the house for about twenty minutes trying to un-see and undo everything that had just unfolded, but I couldn’t make the words go away. I couldn’t go back, so I did the next best thing: I folded all of the poster sheets into neat squares and tucked them into a Rubbermaid tub that fit nicely under my bed, next to my Christmas wrap. I wouldn’t open that tub again until March of 2008.

Next, I got myself a really good therapist and began a year of serious soul work that would forever change my life. Diana, my therapist, and I still laugh about my first visit. Diana, who is a therapist to many therapists, started with the requisite, So what’s going on? I pulled out the Do list and matter-of-factly said, I need more of the things on this list. Some specific tips and tools would be helpful. Nothing deep. No childhood crap or anything.

It was a long year. I lovingly refer to it on my blog as the 2007 Breakdown Spiritual Awakening. It felt like a textbook breakdown to me, but Diana called it a spiritual awakening. I think we were both right. In fact, I’m starting to question if you can have one without the other.

Of course, it’s not a coincidence that this unraveling happened in November 2006. The stars were perfectly aligned for a breakdown: I was raw from being newly sugar and flour free, I was days away from my birthday (always a contemplative time for me), I was burned out from work, and I was right on the cusp of my midlife unraveling.

People may call what happens at midlife a crisis, but it’s not. It’s an unraveling—a time when you feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re supposed to live. The unraveling is a time when you are challenged by the universe to let go of who you think you are supposed to be and to embrace who you are.

Midlife is certainly one of the great unraveling journeys, but there are others that happen to us over the course of our lives:



becoming a parent



an empty nest


experiencing loss or trauma

working in a soul-sucking job

The universe is not short on wake-up calls. We’re just quick to hit the snooze button.

As it turned out, the work I had to do was messy and deep. I slogged through it until one day, exhausted and with mud still wet and dripping off of my traveling shoes, I realized, Oh, my God. I feel different. I feel joyful and real. I’m still afraid, but I also feel really brave. Something has changed—I can feel it in my bones.

I was healthier, more joyful, and more grateful than I had ever felt. I felt calmer and grounded, and significantly less anxious. I had rekindled my creative life, reconnected with my family and friends in a new way, and most important, felt truly comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life.

I learned how to worry more about how I felt and less about what people might think. I was setting new boundaries and began to let go of my need to please, perform, and perfect. I started saying no rather than sure (and being resentful and pissed off later). I began to say Oh, hell yes! rather than Sounds fun, but I have lots of work to do or I’ll do that when I’m _________ (thinner, less busy, better prepared).

As I worked through my own Wholehearted journey with Diana, I read close to forty books, including every spiritual awakening memoir I could get my hands on. They were incredibly helpful guides, but I still craved a guidebook that could offer inspiration, resources, and basically serve as a soul traveler’s companion of sorts.

One day, as I stared at the tall pile of books precariously stacked on my nightstand, it hit me! I want to tell this story

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Ce que les gens pensent de The Gifts of Imperfection

429 évaluations / 53 Avis
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Avis critiques

  • Everyone knows achieving perfection is impossible, but we all still strive for it tirelessly. This can really grind you down and wear on your emotional well-being. Researcher and social worker Brené Brown wants you to see how and why you're great the way you are.

    Scribd Editors
  • Cancer: Suffice to say you've been having a hard time for the past, oh, few years. But now it's time to embrace all you've learned and see that your perceived weaknesses are actually your strengths. Stop comparing your success to that of others this month and learn to love your imperfections.

    Scribd Editors

Avis des lecteurs

  • (5/5)
    Very insightful book... so many points to ponder but main take away is despite our imperfections "YOU ARE ENOUGH AND WORTHY OF LOVE & BELONGING"
  • (5/5)
    This was a truly inspiring book. It completely changed the way I see and feel things. Thank you Brené for sharing some light into those dark corners. And the app is Great!!
  • (5/5)
    Definitely one in going to have to read and reread. Focusing on wholehearted living and detaching from shame are challenging but worthwhile. There's a lot to let go of and a lot to learn.
  • (5/5)
    Reading this book gives me a whole new experience. Especially appreciating little moments.
  • (5/5)
    This is such a Great read, in the presence of the known of being Timely!
  • (5/5)
    A life changer if we're only brave enough to try
  • (3/5)
    Good, only I dont prefer the way the writer telling stories, for me it is plain and not engaging. You can read, and put the book on shelve for days before return to read it. Thin book but took me weeks to finish.
  • (5/5)
    A good read and very much relatable ... love it!
  • (4/5)
    Didn't mean to reread this, but this explains why so much of it sounded familiar.
  • (5/5)
    The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are is the third book that I’ve read by Brené Brown. I was not disappointed. This book offers as set of guideposts toward Wholehearted leaving, which involves “engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness”. The guideposts include cultivating self-compassion, cultivating a resilient spirit, cultivating calm and stillness, and finding meaningful work.She writes with a tone of wonderment of the discoveries that emerged from her research, and acknowledges that some of her findings were surprising or difficult for her to wrap her head around. She explains things well, clearly defining the concepts she’s writing about, and uses effective examples. She writes about her “2007 Breakdown Spiritual Awakening” and how it helped her to change perspective. She makes no attempt to hide her own fallibility, vulnerability, and imperfection.Brown describes compassion as a relationship between equals. She explains that being able to set boundaries is important to effectively practice compassion, even though we may not tend to associate the two concepts. She adds that we should hold people accountable for their behaviour, and in doing so separate the person from the behaviour. She also writes about the importance of self-compassion, something particularly important for those of us struggling with mental illness.In this book Brown talked a lot about authenticity, which comes from living Wholeheartedly. She described several elements in the choice to be authentic: becoming courageous enough to be imperfect; having compassion for the strengths and struggles all of us have; and nurturing the belonging that arises from believing we’re enough. She cautions that depression and anxiety may result when we trade in authenticity for safety. This really resonated for me, as safety has become something that I grasp onto as tightly as possible wherever I can find it.Throughout the book the author made a number of statements that really stood out for me. She wrote that “when we don’t give ourselves permission to be free, we rarely tolerate that freedom in others.” Something particularly eye-opening for me was her observation that: “We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” True that.There were also findings from her research that were somewhat surprising to me. She found that spirituality (not necessarily religion) was a key component of resilience. I’ve never been a religious person, nor have I ever been particularly spiritual, but this is some food for thought. She also concluded that we can’t love others more than we love ourselves, and a sense of worthiness is essential for love and belonging.Based on her research she constructed definitions for the key terms used in the book, definitions that go much deeper than a standard dictionary definition. A couple of examples:Intuition: “our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith, and reason.”Connection: “the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.”I really enjoyed this book. I have a bit of a pet peeve around arbitrary capitalization (e.g. “Wholehearted”), but aside from that I have no complaints. Another Brené Brown classic. If you’re not familiar with her, I encourage you to check out her TED Talks.
  • (5/5)
    This is an incredibly, eye opening book that will lead readers to in depth self evaluation and empowerment!
    How much of our lives are spent becoming and acting as others want us to?
    For me, this was a detriment to my personal growth and self esteem. To finally be able to recognize this pattern and to work towards removing it from my life is life altering in such a positive fashion.
    Highly recommended for everyone!
  • (3/5)
    Good to read.
    Inspiring and helping to better life and work
  • (4/5)
    a perfect book for right now. I best read , i love it , moreover if you are looking suggestions for your newly born kid name, I recommend you this page, click and have beautiful suggestions,
  • (4/5)
    A very helpful and thought provoking book dealing with ones perspective toward themselves and the life they lead. I wish her research data would’ve been integrated more into the novel as I like having an understanding of the data results in addition to the takeaways that she draws. Overall, a book I would recommend to give one an added perspective in looking at themselves in totality, from interactions and ideologies to missteps and faults.
  • (3/5)
    Honest, down to earth. Good perspective changer. Not sure if Brown's dynamics are long-term effective apart from a strong biblical base.
  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    I enjoy reading this book though i got lost in the.middle of my reading. But it's a little research-heavy and formal which may not suit many readers. As, im a doctoral student so im fine with all the definitions n research orientation. But i must give credits to the author for having tremendous amount of cited resources and discussions. Im sure it wasnt easy to gather all those information

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    This book was exactly what I needed. It was easily digestible, research-based and full of information that I hadn't already heard before. Definitely a great read if you're a struggling perfectionist like myself. There's no quick fixes in this book, so don't expect "10 steps to happiness". This book gets real. I'm glad I read it!

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    Very practical and easy to read (even for somebody like me that reads maybe 1 or 2 books a year. Finished this in 4 days :))

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    Loved this book I learned a lot on how to live a happy fulfilled life and to spend less time trying to please other people and looking good to others and to be true to myself and enjoying an intimate real life with the ones closest to me. I also learned a lot of definitions of crucial important self help concepts and ideas. Great read !

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    Simple, joyful & inspiring read. I love how down to earth and genuine Brene is. She writes from the heart.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (4/5)

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    Books sometimes have perfect timing. Another date and time and I probably would not have gotten a single thing from this book, but the simple guideposts and easily actionable items presented themselves to me at just the right time in my life.

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • (3/5)

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    I listened to the audio version. For me, the narrator was a bit too saccharine. There are some valuable constructs and suggestions for behavior change that I believe most would find positive. However there was a disconnect for me. Was this supposed to be a popular press book based on current academic research? Or was it supposed to be a first person diary/narrative of personal redemption? The latter interpretation on my part colors my ability to recommend it very highly.

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    This book is about wholehearted living; simply being authentic and living life to the fullest. A wholehearted life means loving yourself. This finding even threw the author, a renowned researcher in the field of shame and vulnerability, for a loop as she thought her "doing everything right" attitude was the right way to live. Our vulnerabilities prevent us from being completely whole and only by building a sense of worthiness through courage, compassion and connection can we hope to achieve a wholehearted life.

    The book is full of personal stories and findings from Brown's research. It's difficult to summarize the entire book but some of the most interesting observations include:

    * Courage requires that we let go of what others think.
    * The basis of compassion is an acceptance of others.
    * A belief in self-worth is essential for love and belonging.
    * "Fitting in" requires that you do what's needed to be accepted where belonging requires you to be who you really are.
    * When in a state of shame, you need to share your story so it loses its power.
    * Use your courage to share with someone (connect) and to show compassion in a situation.

    The author provides a method for battling through vulnerable moments. Instead of pushing through and enduring when we're stuck, she proposes we DIG deep. Be deliberate, inspired and get going. She goes into detail about specific traits she found in truly authentic people and how we can focus our energy to build a more courageous and self-accepting attitude. These guideposts include: authenticity, self-compassion, resilience, gratitude/joy, intuition/faith, creativity, rest/play, calm/stillness, meaningful work and laughter/song/dance.

    Brown's writing is extremely approachable and she makes a nebulous topic concrete and simple.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    If you're human, you need to read this book. There isn't anyone I know of who doesn't feel some sort of shame or fear. This book really tells you how to handle it.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    I'm currently doing the Brene Brown online course - which uses [The Gifts of Imperfection] as a reference guide. For me, it's a perfect way to read a personal development book, because I'm having this great experience of structured reading, contemplating, applying and learning.What reading this book does is gently peel away layers of armour and give perspective between adapted behaviour and authenticity. Perfect January reading.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    Excellent read. Written in a way that it involves the reader in the process.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    In reading any of Brené Brown's books, I am invited to push past my comfort and dig deep into those areas that I have been hiding. Vulnerability is not for the faint of heart. We all have ingrained courage and bravery in our veins, so we just need to embrace the discomfort of dealing with the true state of our beings, and release the limited version we have accepted ourselves to be. It's not about perfection, but in being present in every moment.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    Good read. Really appreciated how it taught about hope and authenticity.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

  • (5/5)

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

    Real! True and very relatable. Everyone should see it...Very insightful

    2 personnes ont trouvé cela utile

  • (4/5)

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile

    really helpful in managing the life style in different situation.

    1 personne a trouvé cela utile