The Gifts of Imperfection Book Summary I Brene Brown

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Book –The Gifts of Imperfection

Author – Brene Brown

Genre – Self-Help

Published in –2010

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

– Howard Thurman

I am sure you have encountered situations in life where you tried to look different or different from who you are to fit in, impress, or get the approval of others.

Dr. Brene Brown found during her research that 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 living these unique and inspiring lives, which she calls Wholehearted living.

I loved this line, and I can relate to it as I am coming to midlife – 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, not the one you’re “supposed” to live.

About The Book

The gifts of imperfection empower us to accept our true selves, which includes letting our vulnerabilities be seen and letting go of how others perceive us. Brene calls courage, compassion, and connections the gifts of imperfection.

It reminds me of the quote, “You’ll be way less concerned about what others think of you when you realize how seldom they do.

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.

Wholeheartedness is as much about embracing our tenderness and vulnerability as it is about developing knowledge and claiming power.

She explains what wholehearted living looks like and what gets in the way of living, and also gives ten guideposts (ideas) to overcome the obstacles.

Here are a few key points from the Book

Wholehearted living is not an event but a process. Some tools need to be used in this process. They are courage, compassion, and connection despite seeming like big, lofty ideals.

But in reality, they are daily practices that, when exercised enough, become these incredible gifts in our lives.


  • speaking honestly and openly about who we are, what we’re feeling, and our experiences (Good and bad) is the definition of courage.
  • Heroic courage is often about putting our lives on the line. Ordinary courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line. In today’s world, that’s pretty extraordinary.


  • Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us.
  • One of the greatest (and least discussed) barriers to compassion practice is the fear of setting boundaries and holding people accountable.


  • Brene defines connection as the energy between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued, when they can give and receive without judgment, and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
  • Many of us are willing to extend a helping hand but are reluctant to reach out for help when needed.

Exploring the power of Love, Belonging, and being enough

  • If we want to experience love and belonging fully, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.
  • Here’s what is truly at the heart of Wholeheartedness: Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.

Fitting in v/s Belonging

  • Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you must be to get accepted.
  • Conversely, belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.

Practicing Love and Belonging

  • Brene explains that we must take love as an action, not only words; we keep saying the word all the time. However, we rarely act on our claim of love.
  • How we behave daily is as important, if not more important, than saying “I love you” every day. That’s the difference between professing love and practicing love.

Here are a few Guidepost from the Ten in the Book-

Guide Post 1 – Creating Authenticity – Letting Go of What People Will Think
  • Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the option to show up and be real. The opportunity to be honest. The chance to let our true selves be seen.
  • Brene defines Authenticity as the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.

Choosing Authenticity means –

  • Cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable;
  • Exercising the compassion that comes from knowing that we are all made of strength and struggle and
  • Nurturing the connection and sense of belonging can only happen when we believe we are enough.
Guide Post 2 – Cultivating Self-Compassion – Letting Go of Perfectionism
  • Perfectionism is the belief that if we live, look, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame.
  • Perfectionism is not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance.
  • Healthy striving is self-focused – How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused -What will they think?
Guidepost 4 – Cultivating Gratitude and Joy – Letting Go of Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
  • It’s not only the attitude but the practice of gratitude that brings absolute joy. Gratitude without training may seem like faith without work; it’s not alive.
  • Between abundance and scarcity, there is sufficiency. It isn’t a measure of barely enough or more than enough. Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough and we are enough.
Guidepost 8 – Cultivating Calm and Stillness – Letting Go of Anxiety as Lifestyle
  • In her research, Brene found that wholehearted living people weren’t anxiety-free or malicious; they were anxiety-aware. They were committed to living where anxiety was a reality but not a lifestyle.
  • They did this by cultivating calm and stillness in their lives and making these practices the norm. Even though both sound the same, it is not, and here’s how Brene explains both.
  • Calm is creating perspective and mindfulness while managing emotional reactivity.
  • Stillness is not about focusing on nothingness but creating a clearing. It opens up an emotionally clutter-free space and allows us to feel, think, dream, and question.

I have also created a video of a few quotes from the Book. Please subscribe to the YouTube channel self-help book quotes- Myread4change


The gifts of imperfection will empower you with the tools to accept your vulnerable side, let go of what others think, and focus on living a meaningful life on your terms.

You’ll find a different perspective on concepts like Perfectionism, Hope, Shame, Courage, Compassion, Connection, Play, Rest, and self-doubt. A book of less than 150 pages will be worth your time.

You may follow Brene Brown and her work on her blog here

If you like this Book, you may also like What You Think of Me is None of My Business.

I hope this Book Summary helped you in some way.

Thank you for reading.


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