Welcome to the second virtual meeting of our book club to discuss The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown! (If you don’t know what’s going on around here, read this post and visit Brené’s web site.) The discussion in the comments of Q&A #1 from last Monday is brilliant. I’m touched by how brave everyone was in sharing their thoughts and getting personal with us. That is beautiful and courageous and exactly the point of The Gifts of Imperfection. Well done and thank you, everyone.
I’m delighted that the Guideposts pages of my book are now covered with asterisks, underlining, and exclamation points. I love when I read something that confirms a belief I already hold — Don’t we all?! — and I love it even more when Brené’s words are like a slap to the forehead, knocking new ideas into my sometimes rock-like noggin.
If we were all sitting together in my living room, I’d ask you some questions to get the ball rolling. I’ve shared a few of my thoughts below, but didn’t want to chime in too strongly until y’all have a chance to speak from our hearts. Take a look at the questions below and share your thoughts in comments. Don’t feel pressure to answer all the questions; feel free to respond to the ones that inspire you — and be sure to add questions of your own if the spirit moves.
Guidepost #1: Cultivating Authenticity (p. 49)
I loved the quote from E.E. Cummings in the book: “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight — and never stop fighting.”
I was also really affected when Brené wrote her fears of the audacity of authenticity: “What if my friends/family/co-workers like the perfect me better… you know, the one who takes care of everything and everyone?” When I was in the midst of a crisis a few years ago, I spent a lot of time flopped on my friend Stef’s couch, crying and talking and sometimes, just sitting there, quietly. I remember telling her that I felt DIFFERENT. That there was the “old” me before The Thing Happened and the “new” me, after The Thing Happened. I felt mournful that the naive, un-hurt me was gone. Stef said the sweetest thing anyone could have said, “I like this you. It’s real.”
Have you had a moment where you felt painfully real? How did you feel about it?
Guidepost #2: Cultivating Self-Compassion (p. 55)
Full disclosure: I had big reaction to this statement: “Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there is no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal. Additionally, perfectionism is more about perception — we want to be perceived as perfect….” Holy shmoly, that smacked me upside the head. I have to admit that a big part of my desire to be leaner and stronger is because I want to be perceived as lean and strong by others. My ego wants me to be admired for that, which is totally separate from how I feel about my body. That is definitely something I’ll be gnawing on this week.
Brené clarifies that perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best, and perfectionism is not self-improvement. Do you feel like you seek perfectionism or are you striving to be your best ? How do you understand the difference?
Guidepost #3: Creating a Resilient Spirit (p. 63)
I’ve written in the past about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable in the physical sense, and am attracted to the idea of doing that in the emotional sense, too. I was struck by this statement on page 69: “When I interviewed the participants whom I’d describe as living a Wholehearted life… they consistently talked about trying to feel the feelings, staying mindful about numbing behaviors, and trying to lean into the discomfort of hard emotions.” I love that: leaning into hard emotions. I also really responded to this (p. 73): “When we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we lose joy.”
Brené talks about admitting to her desire to numb vulnerability with “an apple fritter, a beer and cigarette, and spending seven hours on Facebook.” It made me realize that I sometimes “numb” myself with to-do lists and strict plans, instead of living with the discomfort and vulnerability of letting life unfold. Do you find that you unkowingly numb yourself with distractions or unhealthy habits?
Guidepost #4: Cultivating Gratitute and Joy (p. 77)
Dave read this book about a year ago and shared the ideas of keeping a gratitude journals and practicing gratitude. Since then, I’ve been actively working on expressing and living with gratitude every day. I’m really please to say that it’s definitely increased my feelings of joy, well being, compassion, and generosity.
Do you buy into this idea? What are some ways you can practice gratitude?
Not a question, but…
On page 82, Brené says, “The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.”
This, too, walloped me for two reasons:
(1) it reinforces what I learned during my crisis: life is light and dark, pain and joy, and denying the “negative” diminishes the “positive”
(2) it echoes what Kim, our Saturday morning yoga instructor, has told us on a few occasions: There is nothing wrong with the sun on a cloudy day.
Hit the comments and let us know what you think!
Pages 86-130 (Guidepost #5 throrugh the end)– Monday, February 27If you’re new here, you’re welcome to join us! Just get a copy of The Gifts of Imperfection and chime in on the discussion anytime!
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