I LOVE New Years’ Eve and Day. I would even go as far as saying it’s my favorite holiday because it’s a great time to look at your life and make some really awesome plans for your 365 days ahead. HOWEVER, it’s so easy to take planning a better life to such a crazy level of perfection that it becomes easy to fail, and feel bad about that! Today’s post is about a book I read that really had a major impact to how I view myself and my life. This book taught me a level of compassion for myself that I think everyone really needs to cultivate especially if you’re a perfectionist like me.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and buy something, I get a small commission. Thank you!
My husband will tell you that if I really like a book it will have writing in the margins and sentences underlined everywhere. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown was no exception.
Brene Brown is an amazing author and researcher on the topic of Shame. Not everyone wants to talk about shame, but as I learned in this book, perfectionism is the child of shame. Being a perfectionist is covering for the fact that there is something we aren’t proud of and we try to be perfect because we don’t want people to see that awful thing we see about ourselves. I mean think about that! Think of how social media can be! Everyone is trying to look like they have their lives all together and some of that might actually be coming from the insecurity that they aren’t really happy in their lives!
So the book starts off with an introduction to Wholehearted Living. Brene Brown describes this as “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 also brave and worthy of love and belonging”. In order to cultivate that she goes down a list of things we need and features one per chapter. At the end of each chapter, she gives a little homework assignment using her DIG method which stands for Deliberate, Inspired and Going to apply what you’ve learned.
The first chapter called a Guidepost is all about Cultivating Authenticity. It talked all about what being authentic even means. It also had this fantastic quote by E.E. Cummings that says “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.”
The second Guidepost was about cultivating self-compassion. To be honest, I didn’t grow up in a home that had much of that, so it’s still very difficult for me to find pockets of compassion for myself when I’m having a bad day. This chapter was all about how shame and being a perfectionist can go hand in hand. It also explained that Perfectionism is NOT the same as striving to be your best, but a shield to keep others from seeing you as a vulnerable human being with flaws. One line I loved explained this difference between being a perfectionist and normal health striving. It said ” Healthy Striving is self-focused –How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focussed —What will they think?
Another chapter that I LOVED was the one on Cultivating Meaningful Work. I found it extremely comforting that Brene Brown, someone who has done TED Talks, and even has a talk you can see on Netflix can feel uncomfortable with the question “what do you do?”. She stated that she felt “Like my choices were to reduce myself to an easily digestible sound bite or to confuse the hell out of people”. As a blogger, I could completely relate to this. I told my husband that oftentimes I feel conversations are great until someone asks, what I do. Usually, when I tell them I’m an artist and a writer of this blog, I get this really quizzical look. I actually had someone ask me “but have you ever wanted a real job, something that you can get out of bed for?” OUCH! This person didn’t know that blogging is a “real job” I could make money off of, and it’s a major reason that I get out of bed each day. I love being a blogger! However, most blogs take a couple of years at least to see any real return on investment and most also fail during their first year (which I just shot past! YAY!). Conversations like that over the years make me sometimes a bit afraid of answering honestly…statements like that make me second guess the things I adore in my life. I do get out of bed every morning for my art and writing and I should NEVER feel bad about that!
Second-guessing and Self-doubt can be dream killers! So I was so happy when Brene Brown explained that “Overcoming self-doubt is all about believing we’re enough and letting go of what the world says we’re supposed to be and suppose to call ourselves”. The world and society will constantly be telling you what you should be. At the age of 35, I SHOULD have children…but I don’t. I SHOULD have a “real job”…but I have chosen to be my own boss and pursue the things that make me most happy. I SHOULD be doing or not doing a lot of things and if I do more of what I am being told I SHOULD do, I’m not doing what makes my soul happy and what makes me, ME.
If there was one more quote I could leave you with it would be a few lines from the final thoughts part of this book in which she states that “Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It’s about 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”. Imagine what would happen if we all took that one quote to heart?!
So if you find yourself to be a perfectionist like me, if you find yourself wondering when enough is enough, or when you are worthy enough to cut yourself some slack, then this is your book. I promise, that if you don’t read another book this entire year, this book will give you MORE than enough to start thinking about and putting into practice to start living your best life now. The next time you find yourself snowed in by a blizzard or just wanting to read something that will feed you mentally and emotionally, pick up this book. It’s not long, and it contains tons of cute relatable stories, but it is packed with wisdom and lessons that if implemented would change your entire life.
If you have read this book or have any questions please let me know in the comments below! I love connecting with my followers and I could talk about this book all day! If you know of anyone else who would love to read this book or this article please feel free to share. You deserve to feel good about who you are, what you do, and how you feel. Your flaws make you beautiful and self-acceptance is crucial to becoming who you dream of being! I wish you a wonderful day and a beautiful beginning to 2020! -Heather Astaneh