Excerpts from “The Gifts of Imperfection”

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I just recently finished reading this book, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. Have you read it? What was most impactful for you in your life? How can you relate letting go of perfectionism/perceptions to your own body image and health? I loved Lauren Fowler‘s linkage of the book lessons to body image and health. Here are my favorite excerpts from Brene’s book:

  • “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….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. “
  • “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness, will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
  • “It’s hard to practice compassion when we are struggling with our authenticity or when our own worthiness is off balance.”
  • “Courage, compassion, and connection are the gifts of imperfection.”
  • “Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
  • “Incongruent living is exhausting.”
  • “When we struggle to believe in our worthiness, we hustle for it.”
  • “Shame is that warm feeling that washes over us making us feel small.  Develop shame resiliency. Shame is the fear of being unlovable. It’s the total opposite of owning our story and feeling worthy. The less we talk about shame, it festers and grows. Shame corrodes the part of us that believes we can change and do better.”
  • “Authenticity is a collection of choices. We can choose authenticity.”
  • “Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go who we think we’re supposed to be, and embracing who we are.”
  •  “Perfectionism is not the same thing has striving to be your best. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement, and shame. It’s a shield. It’s a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from flight.”
  • “Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance. Most perfectionists were raised being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule-following, people-pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, we adopt this dangerous and debilitating belief system: I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.”
  • “Perfectionism is self-destructive simply because there’s no such thing as perfect. Perfection is an unattainable goal.”
  • “Hope is a combination of setting goals, having the tenacity and perseverance to pursue them, and believing in our own abilities. Hope is learned. Children most often learn hope from their parents.”
  • “When we numb the dark, we numb the light.”

I feel like I’ve struggled to put into words my passionate belief system about health and body image, but it’s clearer now.  I encourage people to love themselves, but also encourage people to push hard, endure, challenge, put one foot in front of the other, push push push, etc.  Those could seem contradictory to some people, but inside myself, I guess I’ve always believed they were analogous but couldn’t put into words why.  If you THINK you accept yourself how you are, but you continue to poison yourself or be sedentary, you’re not accepting and loving yourself; you’re intentionally destroying yourself or numbing emotions.  If you REALLY accept yourself how you are and love yourself, the desire for healthy change and living comes innately; you want to change just for you to feel strong and energetic.  So getting at the root of the issue- learning to love yourself or not- that’s what makes fitness/health happen or not happen.  We all know how to be healthy, what to eat, how to workout, how to get on a healthy routine, etc. But we don’t all do it because we put other things in the way- we purposely make other things fill our schedules b/c being busy is a way of numbing just like emotional eating or addiction- or we think we aren’t worth it and we’re never capable of it, so we don’t even try and just shame talk ourselves- or we try and fail b/c we were doing it for someone else instead of ourselves.

Empowerment is a huge theme in my life these last few years.  Once you start some fitness undertakings and experience a little success (no matter how hard it was or how slow it was), you get a boost of empowerment, you get proud of yourself, you feel strong, you feel like you could dream up anything and achieve it, you feel in charge of your life.  Once you start seeing yourself as lovable, worthy, and innately good, you get a boost of empowerment, you start to see what toxicity in your life is unacceptable, intolerable and must go, you start to see what control has been putting you down and what you’re better than, you start to see what life you deserve and you start to create the life and feel the joy your soul needs, you start to be authentic, and living authentically gives you yet another boost of empowerment.  Once you start taking honest and active control of your financial goals, educate yourself on everything there is to know about money, and experience progress (however overwhelmed you feel as you start, however slowly you go) at paying down debt or building up savings, you get another boost of empowerment, and you see you’re not a victim of anything, that you can make hard choices and enjoy huge peace, that doors are opened and you see no door ever in your future could be impassable for you.  Empowerment snowballs.  Be brave  Take control of one area of your life. And watch it spread to every area of your life. Be authentically, amazingly, uniquely YOU. Life is so gorgeous and so short- enjoy every precious moment of it.

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