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 conference!" (I'm making President Uchtdorf's talk my personal touchstone until I really get it, by the way.)(Because I really don't get it yet.)
I devoured this book, pen in hand, and marked up much more than I usually do in any book. Starting with the very first paragraph of the introduction:
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 morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.
Seriously, I sat there staring at that paragraph for a full ten minutes as I let it sink in. How did the author know? How did she know that I equate my full plate--how much I get done in a day--to my self worth? How did she know how afraid I am to show my weaknesses (especially the weaknesses I haven't fully embraced yet)? How did she know that I often don't feel loved? Or that I don't feel like I really belong anywhere? How did she know?
And it dawned on me that maybe we all feel like this to an extent. And yet, I watch others and I am sure, absolutely sure, that they know something about living that I don't. And maybe they do...maybe they've figured out the secret that it's okay to be imperfect. But maybe they haven't.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown is a book we all need to read. I admit, that whole thing about Who I Am vs. Who I Am Supposed to Be gets me every time. I think it's a fine line between embracing things I shouldn't embrace and being okay with where I am right now. I think that I should strive to be better, and maybe Who I Am is not good enough. So, I admittedly bristled a bit at the subtitle there.
But then, like I said, I read that first paragraph, and I realized it wasn't like that at all. This is learning to let go of the unnecessary shame we carry around that says we don't measure up. It doesn't mean we can't strive to become better. In fact, I think if we can let go of the shame by embracing our imperfections, we will actually become better faster. We will become more courageous. More compassionate. More connected.
The book is divided into 10 "guideposts" that can help us let go of unhealthy traits and embrace new, healthier ones. I particularly need to re-read Guidepost #7 "Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth" and Guidepost #9 "Cultivating Meaningful Work: Letting Go of Self-Doubt and 'Supposed To'" because sitting in my inbox right now are three e-mails that I really need to reply to. And the reply needs to be "No." But you have absolutely no idea how much anxiety even the thought of telling somebody I can't do something gives me. It's absolutely ridiculous!
I had more insights into myself while reading this book than I have had in a really long time.
Starting right now.
I have one copy of this book for one of you (US/Canada only). Believe me, this is a book you shouldn't miss out on (have I said that enough yet?), so enter this giveaway. Tell me how the quest for perfection plays a role in your life. I will draw for a winner on Thursday, October 14.
And don't forget to check out Brene Brown's blog. Especially this post: The Perfect Protest.