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

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

byBrené Brown

Paperback | August 27, 2010

Pricing and Purchase Info

$13.96 online 
$19.95 list price save 30%
Earn 70 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores


When our embarrassments and fears lie, we often listen to them anyway. They thwart our gratitude, acceptance, and compassion—our goodness. They insist, “I am not worthy.” But we are worthy—of self-discovery, personal growth, and boundless love. With Brené Brown’s game-changing New York Times bestseller The Gifts of Imperfection—which has sold more than 2 million copies in more than 30 different languages, and Forbes recently named one of the "Five Books That Will Actually Change Your Outlook On Life"—we find courage to overcome paralyzing fear and self-consciousness, strengthening our connection to the world.

A motivational and inspiring guide to wholehearted living, rather than just the average self-help book, with this groundbreaking work Brené Brown, Ph.D., bolsters the self-esteem and personal development process through her characteristic heartfelt, honest storytelling. With original research and plenty of encouragement, she explores the psychology of releasing our definitions of an “imperfect” life and embracing living authentically. Brown’s “ten guideposts”  are benchmarks for authenticity that can help anyone establish a practice for a life of honest beauty—a perfectly imperfect life.

Now more than ever, we all need to cultivate feelings of self-worth, as well as acceptance and love for ourselves. In a world where insults, criticisms, and fears are spread too generously alongside messages of unrealistic beauty, attainment, and expectation, we look for ways to “dig deep” and find truth and gratitude in our lives. A new way forward means we can’t hold on too tightly to our own self-defeating thoughts or the displaced pain in our world. Instead, we can embrace the imperfection.
Dr. Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation—Brené Brown Endowed Chair at The Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy and is the author of four #1 New York Times bestsellers:  The Gifts of I...
Title:The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You AreFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:160 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.4 inShipping dimensions:9 × 6 × 0.4 inPublished:August 27, 2010Publisher:Hazelden PublishingLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:159285849X

ISBN - 13:9781592858491


Rated 5 out of 5 by from a great read for personal wellness An easy read but a person challenge. I highly recommend this book.
Date published: 2018-11-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Must Read It’s not a surprise that Brené Brown captivates readers with another book. She shared eye-opening research and expertise about the importance of forming connections, finding inspiration, and motivating oneself to get to where one wants to be.I would definitely recommend it to a friend and read it again. It serves as a reminder to embrace who you are.
Date published: 2018-11-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from An easy read - more of a helpful guide This is a simpler read and a guide to the I thought It was just me book. I felt it complimented I thought it was just me, but if you didn't want to buy all her books, I would recommend I thought it was just me as it delves deeper. I did take notes from this book, as it provided helpful tips that you can use in your daily life to maintain a wholehearted life.
Date published: 2018-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changing When my therapist recommended this book to me she told me she felt that it was one of the most important self-help books of the Aughts. It is definitely one of the most impactful books I have ever read. Usually I have very strict rules about books. Namely that they should, as much as possible, be treated respectfully and generally end up not looking like they've been read. My copy if this book has been all over with me and has all sorts of marginalia. It took a while to read because I wanted to give it my full attention. While I read this book my life changed significantly but instead of falling apart I was able to use many of the guide posts in this book to help me get through and start to build something even better.
Date published: 2018-08-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Self help New York Times best-selling author and professor Brené Brown offers a powerful and inspiring book that explores how to cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to embrace your imperfections and to recognize that you are enough.
Date published: 2018-08-24
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Helpful I read this book twice. The first time I did not enjoy it at all. The next time I was a little more prepared for what it was, and I do think I got something out of it. That may have just been the desire to read more Brene Brown books (Daring Greatly being my favourite).
Date published: 2018-08-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful I am not a big fan of self-help books personally, but this one was awful. The book offers no assistance and was not enjoyable to read. Would not recommend. #PlumReview
Date published: 2018-08-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! Brene Brown was so open and honest and I was able to relate to some of her struggles and "imperfections". This book helped me through a tough and transitional time in my life, reminding me what is really important. Provoked a lot of soul searching and reflecting that was so healing!
Date published: 2018-07-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She does it again! After reading Daring Greatly this book is another awesome step into better understanding who you are as a person. Would highly recommend
Date published: 2018-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I loved this! I went to a Fearless Women's Summit a few months ago and the main speaker, Mpumi Nobiva, recommended this book. It is an amazing book on how to live your life authentically, not care about what others think, and to have meaningful relationships with others and yourself. I definitely recommend this to any adult. No matter where you are in life, this book will inspire you.
Date published: 2018-07-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Honest and Imperfect! This was my first experience reading through Brene Brown's books. She has conveyed the message of getting real and honest and embracing our imperfections wonderfully throughout this book. I am so exciting to read through the rest of her books!
Date published: 2018-06-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good read, but expected a bit more I love Brene Brown and her way of writing: very open and honest. However, I did somehow expect a bit more from her in this book. It felt that she was a bit short through some of the corners of the book. Still a good read and a good boost for anyone!
Date published: 2018-06-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fabulous Read! This book is one of Brene's best! It is so insightful, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from front to back. Its only been a few months, and I want to read it again. Everyone can take something away from it! So much encouragement for self care, handling the obstacles in our life and not allowing them to define us. But, to move forward and be real with ourself, and the direction of our life.
Date published: 2018-04-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! I loved her videos and thought the book was great!
Date published: 2018-03-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perspective This book was a great read, and I totally recommend it. However to fully walk away with what the intention of the author, the reader has to be open to understanding, reflecting, and realizing the perspective of interpretation. I definitely found this book to provide me with a few "ah-ha" moments, and really did have a positive impact on my life. I am very happy I read this book.
Date published: 2018-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Yeeeeesssss! A beautiful book that you can digest, read again & learn something new. It offers a good basis of self care with gentle reminders that who you are right now is a perfect place to start.
Date published: 2018-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My Absolute Fav! Loved this book. I couldn't put it down. Very raw and relatable.
Date published: 2018-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A must read A must read- especially for parents! Important knowledge and fundamentals
Date published: 2018-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love her! Brene Brown is changing my life with every book she writes and I'm so grateful for it. She is so compassionate and I swear I cry once a chapter. Beautiful book.
Date published: 2018-02-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book This book helped me to look within myself and to get real, it helped me to let go of a lot and really focus on what matters most to me. I could have highlighted the entire book!
Date published: 2018-01-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! I never knew shame reliance was a thing but it makes complete sense why we should continually practice it. And I loved how Brene explains the difference between shame and one is healthy and the other is so destructive!
Date published: 2018-01-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Results after reading: Emotional Roller Coaster While going through a tough time in my "love life" a good friend of mine highly recommended this book, while I tackle my "soul searching" weekend. I highly recommend you read this if you are in need of talking to a good friend. This book gives a gentle push in the right direction, that makes you have to literally pause, catch your breath, absorb, and then keep reading. For myself, I highlighted numerous lines/paragraphs because it is a great reminder when having a tough day, and you need to be reminded of your self worth, and to recenter.
Date published: 2017-12-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it It helped me through a transitional period in life. Very insightful, a must read.
Date published: 2017-12-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another great one by Brene! Would recommend this to anyone who needs to read something both inspiring and uplifting.
Date published: 2017-11-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Inspiring Brené Brown has a gift for writing about struggle.
Date published: 2017-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing book Amazing book for a spiritual awakening through your life and bring you to an introspection.
Date published: 2017-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from She is a Brave Woman Jumping into this raw set of human emotions is a hard thing to do. I have read many of Brene Brown books and found them very insightful and helpful
Date published: 2017-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!!! I absolutely loved this book! It is really applicable to my life, and I think probably everybody's. I like how the chapters are divided and how at then end they always offer suggestions and tools to work on the issues discussed. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Date published: 2017-10-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Highly recommend This book is great! I had it finished in a couple days- I couldn't put it down! It's changed my perception on myself and others. I suggest reading it with a friend!
Date published: 2017-10-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Read! This book was reccomended to me and I really did enjoy reading the book! I love that Brene gives you real life examples of things that happened to her, this helps you to know that she is writing from her experiences as well and not just "making things up" as she writes. Will be reading her other books!
Date published: 2017-10-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Huge Fan Love her writing. Great for self reflection.
Date published: 2017-10-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Amazing intro to her work Love what she shares about owning your story and being courageous to be vulnerable in sharing it with you empower others with it, you become empowered.
Date published: 2017-10-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Fantastic book to read, well worth it
Date published: 2017-09-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More than just a self-help book It really opens you up with relatable material focusing on the things that we are uncomfortable with and the things we so desperately try to hold on to. Stripping away our feelings of "Am I enough?" and establishing feelings of self worth and belonging, this book is worth every page read.
Date published: 2017-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changing I've come back to this book several times a year since it came out, and I find that there is so much new insight to learn each time. This book is a beautiful lesson of reminding us to embrace who we are, no matter what
Date published: 2017-07-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Step by Step This book gives a great approach to looking at things in your life that need to be adjusted. Would highly recommend this book to help connect with yourself.
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Best from Brene. This would be my top pick from Brene (followed by Daring Greatly). It is insightful, applicable and well worth a read.
Date published: 2017-07-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Beautiful Book! I would highly recommend this book for those struggling with anger, frustration or simply just having a hard time embracing their emotions. It gave me great perspective.
Date published: 2017-07-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from insightful! I first read this book and waited a bit, then I bought it. The content resonated with me. I find Brene Brown organized and explained the content in a way thats not too technical, but not too abstract. And I like that the book is short and sweet. I highly reccomend all of Brene Browns work!
Date published: 2017-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Insightful and Profound This book easily became one of my favorites. It is perhaps the most meaningful, out of all the books I have read from Brene Brown. The way that Brown conveys her message is clear and thought provoking. It challenged me to reflect on my own life and the way that I was living. I can understand why some people may not enjoy the book, whether it is because of the way she writes or the language she uses. Regardless, I would absolutely recommend this book.
Date published: 2017-03-15
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just Okay... I'm totally a Brene Brown fan and love her work, but this book just lacked anything to keep me interested, sadly.
Date published: 2017-03-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quick read with an honest narrative Brene Brown had me hooked from the beginning. This is one of the only books I've actually used a highlighter to focus on points that have had me reflective for days after. Self love and compassion are at the heart of the book and when we move away from that our ego can take over and manipulate every reaction and emotion. I lend this out to all my girlfriends who are experiencing tough times or transitions in their lives and it has gotten mixed reviews with some people absolutely loving it and others not feeling so effective.
Date published: 2017-02-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Must read! Amazing, thought provoking, and empowering words! Highly recommended it to anyone looking for a comfortable, yet personally fulfilling book.
Date published: 2017-02-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this book! I didn't think this book was for me but gave it a try. I loved it! I can't wait to start reading Brene Brown's Daring Greatly.
Date published: 2017-01-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing!!! Short, simple, and life changing!!!! Highly recommend
Date published: 2016-12-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not anything more than expected Quick and simply, I did like this book. I liked it but I don't think there was anything revolutionary about it and it just seemed mediocre to me. A good read and it was helpful but just read like an average self-help book.
Date published: 2016-12-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Book Brene Brown always speaks to the heart and provides a thought provoking book. This was no different. I used this book in conjunction with her class in the Oprah Life Class series and it helped me to dig deeper into the topics she was discussing. Great read and definitely worth your time if you are struggling with courage and accepting that sometimes things don't go as planned.
Date published: 2016-11-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from This really helped I bought this at a difficult time in my life and it helped me realize that I didn't appreciate or experience positive emotions or happiness to the fullest potential because I also kept myself from feeling vulnerable. I learned we have to feel vulnerable. You have to be able to feel the lowest of the low to feel the highest of the high. Not one without the other, this book made me cognizant of my behavior and perspective.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Authenticity This book is a bang-up refresher to ideals that I already knew, but have somehow forgotten to practice. "The greatest challenge for most of us is believing that we are worthy now, right this minute. Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites." The messages of this book are important, so very important and need to be practiced ~ not forgotten ~ not avoided. I was most curious about how Brown defines authenticity and her expression on trading in your authenticity. "Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we're supposed to be and embracing who we are." Trading in our authenticity occurs when "You stop believing in your worthiness and start hustling for it." I find being authentic and not hustling for my worthiness is a difficult thing to do. Especially, in a society where most are willing to attack, ridicule, and damage a person's self-worthiness, while they are "hustling" for their own worthiness. What a mistake ~ trading in my authenticity for approval! I need to get back to being authentic and embracing who I am ~ I am flawed and that is okay!
Date published: 2016-11-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book I read in the past 5 years! A good friend recommended this book to me and before I was even halfway done the book I ordered additional copies for my siblings. Brené Brown has a gift of being completely relevant to our lives in todays world and writes in a highly informative, yet easy to read way that changes how you view your day, every day you read her book! Reading Brené Brown became the highlight of my day, every day!
Date published: 2016-02-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Definately with the read. Nice easy flow to this book. I've seen the Ted Talks and love the story telling approach that Ms. Brown takes. Definitely some take away nuggets in this book.
Date published: 2015-11-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from It was good. Some of the suggestions were pretty helpful. I found it inspiring. I like to explore new ideas of living authentically.
Date published: 2015-09-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great book! This book gets right to the point with a lot of personal examples that the author puts out on the line. No one is perfect, but being able to see that the author lived this, and is not just telling us what's what like other authors, is a HUGE and wonderful experience. Much respect to her. She's also a great speaker. Check her out on Ted Talks!
Date published: 2015-07-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Worth reading over and over I read this a while ago and truly enjoyed it. I've since bought more to share with friends. Learning to truly love ourselves is a most life altering gift.
Date published: 2015-01-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gave me the courage to be free Much like the author of this book, I am on a path to spiritual awakening. This book gave me tremendous amounts of support and advice on how to let go and accept who I am. I can honestly say I am a lot happier. This booked has helped a lot.
Date published: 2014-11-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fantastic A real eye opener ! Thanks to Norm Lapalme for referring it to me.
Date published: 2014-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic A real eye opener ! Thanks to Norm Lapalme for referring it to me.
Date published: 2014-08-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Gifts of Imperfection Great book with new ideas. Highly entertaining and useful.
Date published: 2014-08-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good book Just finished this book. Interesting and thought provoking!
Date published: 2014-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing Seriously life changing for me. I suffer from MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) and this is helping every day to lift me back up
Date published: 2014-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read I read this book a few weeks ago, and what an awesome and easy read it was!  "Brown" writes in a simple and easy manner to understand. and gives you lots of "AHA moments" This book is a "pick me upper" and reinstates the fact that though we are not perfect, we need to embrace who we are and what we have to offer.   Great read!!!
Date published: 2014-02-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A tough read  The title does not accurately convey the contents of the book.This is a narrative of one woman's struggle with darkness. It is written in first person singular making it an exhausting and irritating tome. I went from reading every word in the first few chapters to skipping to the "point" at the end of the chapters to counting how many times "I" is used in every sentence, paragraph and page. There are many better books out there.
Date published: 2014-01-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from There needs to be five more stars!!! This book is a life changer for those who need to find a path to belonging and being enough... clear talk to put you on the path to embracing your perfect life... as an imperfect person... I plan to create a support group around the ideas espoused in this book...
Date published: 2014-01-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Looking for more research but.. Brene is full of great personal story that is relatable and reflect a genuine growth from her research insight. I have to be honest in that my initial attraction was based upon the hopeful balance of the science and spiritual reflection. Authenticity, self compassion, and critical awareness are elements I reflect on in my bible readings. I was hoping for more research but still found enough to make the book worthwhile.
Date published: 2013-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very insightful wholehearted ness! I started reading this book at the end of last month and I just finished. I can truly say this read has self-perpetuated me toward living more wholehearted and it has inspired me to be more equanimous with my divine connection, self, family, and friends! Take Courage
Date published: 2013-11-23

Read from the Book

PrefaceOnce 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.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:marriage divorce becoming a parent recovery moving an empty nest retiring experiencing loss or trauma working in a soul-sucking jobThe 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 in a memoir. I’ll tell the story of how a cynical, smart-ass academic became every bit of the stereotype that she spent her entire adult life ridiculing. I’ll fess up about how I became the middle-aged, recovering, health-conscious, creative, touchy-feely spirituality-seeker who spends days contemplating things like grace, love, gratitude, creativity, authenticity, and is happier than I imagined possible. I’ll call it Wholehearted.I also remember thinking, Before I write the memoir, I need to use this research to write a guidebook on Wholehearted living! By mid-2008, I had filled three huge tubs with notebooks, journals, and mounds of data. I had also done countless hours of new research. I had everything I needed, including a passionate desire to write the book that you’re holding in your hands.On that fateful November day when the list appeared and I sunk into the realization that I wasn’t living and loving with my whole heart, I wasn’t totally convinced. Seeing the list wasn’t enough to fully believe in it. I had to dig very deep and make the conscious choice to believe in myself and the possibility of living a different life. A lot of questioning, countless tears, and a huge collection of joyful moments later, believing has helped me see.

Editorial Reviews

"This important book is about the lifelong journey from 'What will people think?' to 'I am enough.' Brown's unique ability to blend original research with honest storytelling makes reading The Gifts of Imperfection like having a long, uplifting conversation with a very wise friend who offers compassion, wisdom, and great advice."--Harriet Lerner, New York Times best-selling author of The Dance of Anger and The Dance of Connection"Brené Brown courageously tackles the dark emotions that get in the way of leading a fuller life; read this book and let some of that courage rub off on you."--Daniel H. Pink, New York Times best-selling author of A Whole New Mind"Courage, compassion, and connection: Through Brené's research, observations, and guidance, these three little words can open the door to amazing change in your life."--Ali Edwards, author of Life Artist