‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ and other books by Brené Brown

This isn’t so much a book review as a library review – this woman has written alot and it’s all very good. Where do I start?

‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ is annoyingly brilliant.

giftsofimperfectionwhy annoyingly?

Because she kind of says the exact same thing that I wrote TWENTY-THREE years ago! Only she says it alot better which is why her book is a New York Bestseller having sold over 1.5million copies and I sold ….? er maybe 1,500? (don’t even bother looking it up on the market place I doubt it exists, but just so you can see the ‘imperfect’ connection, here it is): IMG_1959

So now I’ve got the envy issue out in the open… I heartly recommend Brené Brown’s work. ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ is a non-spiritual book about how to live what she calls a ‘whole-hearted’ life. From my Christian background, I would say it’s one of the best books about what being a disciple/Christian ought to look like and I’ve been thinking about the challenges of living with authenticity, compassion, resilience, gratitude, joy, creativity, balancing work and play and so on and so on, pretty much all my life.

That doesn’t mean I’ve nailed any of those things, it just means that her discoveries about how embracing our imperfections and believing ourselves to be deeply worthy of being loved and belonging, don’t come as a surprise to me.  In fact, I’m really surprised she’s so surprised by the discovery that courage, vulnerabilty, self-compassion, hope, rest, play, joy, gratitude  are SO much  better for our quality of life than striving to be perfect, keeping up appearances, posturing for approval or posing to fit in.

Part of me wants to say “D’uh? Surely that’s obvious?” But, perhaps it isn’t, particularly not in the american culture from which she hails.

Anyway, obvious or not, Brené writes brilliantly, illustrates her points with great personal stories that leave you feeling you know her.

The overwhelming message of this book is about being self-compassionate – believing that you are ‘enough’. There are so many amazing, precious, powerful, influential women I know, I wish I could buy all of you a copy of this book.


I’ll just quickly summarise the others I know of, even though that may be doing them an injustice. (I figure you might be more likely to read one blog than several). The big message in ‘Braving the Wilderness’ is about courage and true belonging, I’d say it’s the same message only written large about how society desperately needs more whole-hearted people.

Rising Strong’ is about courage, again, but this time the courage to own our own true personal story,  to recognise the stories we make up about events in our lives, own (rather than avoid) our emotions and wrestle  (she uses the word ‘rumble’)giftsrisingstrong

with those difficult experiences in our lives, asking ourselves what do I really understand about this situation? what can I learn about other people in this story of mine? what is this situation revealing to me about myself? If you don’t think you can’t change (“I’m just a perfectionist/worrier/short-tempered/difficult (insert whatever negative characteristic you feel defines you) person”, don’t read this book. It will challenge you deeply.

So far I’ve only dipped in to ‘Daring Greatly’ but I know my high-lighter will be over-worked, so I might just blog separately about that one.


In ministry, I spend so much time loving people just as they are because that’s how God loves them and how he loves me too, but I’m also so sad and frustrated because they won’t change and mostly the reason they won’t change is because they are so well defended by fear or anger or shame. They’d like to live a whole-hearted life but if vulnerablity is the route to get there (or simply being open and honest with a few other people) then it is just way too scary. The boundaries and barricades of shame or secrecy they have set up around themselves to act as self-protection prevent them from having the courage to change, stop them from  forming the connections that would help them change or having the self-compassion they deeply need before they can change.

But then, occasionally,  there are others, those who DO find the courage to tell and own their own stories, and I do see those people grow and be transformed.

If you want a taste of Brene Brown’s honesty- here is her TED talk on The Power of Vulnerablity which went along way to making her as well known as she is.

I quoted from ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’ a couple of times in some recents talks I gave telling my own story of vulnerablity and growth. Thank you Activate Women from the Authentic 18 conference who responded so generously and encouragingly to these talks. I have now put these links on the Mindfulness and Meditation page of this blog for anyone who would like to hear them. After I spoke one of the stall holders made me a personalised wall hanging:


(Thank you Becky, here is her website: http://www.pebblecrafts.co.uk )

The quote is from Brené Brown, the Hebrew word is my tatoo (see Tattoo or not Tattoo?). It means ‘Beloved’, I claimed it as my label 5 years ago and had it tatooed on my back. Really believing that word about myself is SO  much harder than having a tattoo done! (It’s all in this blog post Being a Beloved Person) but I finish with one final Brené Brown quote:

“cultivating a Wholehearted life is not like trying to reach a destination. It’s like walking towards a star in the sky. We never really arrive, but we certainly know that we’re heading in the right direction”

Brené’s blog is at http://www.ordinarycourage.com

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