Thursday, October 2, 2014

What I'm Reading: "The Gifts of Imperfections" by Dr. Brene Brown

This month's pick is "The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Be Who You Are" by Dr. Brene Brown.

Brene Brown, Ph.D. is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. For the past decade she has studied vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. Quite possibly not the most popular of studies being researched, but all the more intriguing. Brene`lives n Houston with her husband Steve and their two children.

Brown's 2010 TEDx Talk on the power of vulnerability is brave and moving. It also just happens to be one of the most watched talks on with over 15 million views.

That, as well as her closing speech, Listening to Shame, at the 2012 TED conference in Long Beach, have catapulted Brown "Into the Arena".

Coincidentally, the premise for her third book (which I devoured in two days) "Daring Greatly". The title of the book comes from the Theodore Roosevelt speech "Man In The Arena".

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.  -Theodore Roosevelt

I'm getting ahead of myself here...

Brene` is the author of three books total to date:
  • I Thought It Was Just Me
  • The Gifts of Imperfections
  • Daring Greatly
I skipped right over her first book and dived head on into "The Gifts of Imperfections" (call it a cosmic "Freudian" draw). It was just what #DrMom ordered for this recovering Type A perfectionist.
The first book is on my reading list for sure!

Her introduction to wholehearted living is an inspiring and authentic view at ourselves and how we perceive the world around us. Letting go of "social norms" and leaving room for self compassion in order to truly be able to feel compassion towards another, is only one of the many guideposts to truly "wholehearted living". Her approach to cultivating creativity and letting go of comparison is something we all can learn from, especially our children.

One of the main draws in this book for me was that these were all values I wanted to instill in my children, and yet I had to sort of "re-wire" my own thinking before I could authentically model this for them. It's one thing to talk the talk, but children are masters at seeing right through your words and picking up on ALL of your actions. Not just those opportune "teachable moments" where you are prepared with all the right answers and theories, but all the in between moments of each and every day. Sensing your fear and vulnerability, even at times you may be unwilling to share or admit it. This is the reason I feel as though you have the constant ability to deepen your relationship and bond with your children, for there is no more intimate relationship on this earth we can share as we do with them.

Brown's outlook on vulnerability and shame is empowering. The true courage it takes to open up and share freely with someone (only those who've earned the right to hear your story, including your children) your fears or inadequacies. The fact that you may just not know what to do or say at any given moment, but you are willing to be open and accepting to whatever comes your way is truly brave. Because the risk of looking "uncool" is much smaller than the risk of not giving it your all.

Brene` is quoted as saying: "Being cool is the emotional straight jacket". I see this everyday with children and sadly even adults. Especially among little girls and even "women". I suppose it's easy to be a part of the "Mean Girls Club", to be too cool for school. In reality these "tough girls" who can't express themselves emotionally or step up and be counted for what they feel or believe without attacking are afraid. More afraid of the vulnerability it takes to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you. Afraid to be seen or heard, for fear that they may not be loved because of it. Fear of rejection even. As a society, as women, we are constantly pressured to dress and look a certain way. To live up to an unattainable expectation, and if you don't then you my dear are an outcast. Rather than focus their energy on the outside by physically changing themselves in pursuit of fulfillment or acceptance, I'd rather focus that energy on the inside. Once you get the inside right, the rest will fall into place. There's more strength and courage in standing alone with integrity than there ever was in selling out in a crowd.
It's easy for someone to shut down and turn to mean, rude or provocative comments as a means of defense. It takes a lot of guts instead to choose compassion and live with an open heart. To embrace our vulnerability as humans, and value the connection that comes with it is perhaps the most courageous.

Dr. Brene Brown believes that as humans we are all hard-wired for connection, and all we want is to be seen and heard. By acknowledging our children's feelings, ALL of them, no matter how uncomfortable they may be, we give them the opportunity to be seen AND heard. To truly give unconditional love, we must embrace the ENTIRE human being with acceptance and love. Giving the gift of love and total compassion. Only once we can do this for ourselves, can we freely and genuinely give it to others.

If only we lived in a world where differences were celebrated, maybe everyone would be able to share the same unalienable human rights and get married where they please. Perhaps little girls would feel comfortable in their own skin no matter what that skin looked like, and could grow into women who uplifted each other instead of judging and comparing each other while exchanging catty remarks. Little boys could even express themselves without societal judgment on what colors they should be wearing, or what "manly" toys they should be playing with. Then they could grow up to be men who could confidently stay at home with their children, or enjoy tender moments without shame.

This book and more books like it are a part of a higher consciousness sweeping the nation. It's a process, but there is definitely a shift in vibrational energy, a shift in consciousness for the human race. It seems at times we've come a long way, but there is much more to go. Making the change starts with you. Making a change in your own mind and breaking generational patterns, passing that along to your children. One mind. One Person. One Family. One Neighborhood. One Community. One Nation. One World. One Race.

Essentially Yours,


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