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Embracing Imperfection

5 December 2017

Janie re-read The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown, and was reminded of the importance of letting go of perfection.

Tags: brene brown, janie read, self-compassion

As we wind down the year, I’ve found myself focusing too much on perfection, and as a result, I’ve been having a hard time making decisions and getting things done. I found myself re-reading a simple email repeatedly and making minor changes to my wording, but never hitting send. After realizing I’ve been feeling a bit stuck, I decided to turn to one of my favorite books for some advice. The Gifts of Imperfection felt revolutionary to me when I first read it several years ago, and the advice is just as relevant and timely now as it was then.

Brown is the first writer who convinced me that my pursuit of perfection was doing me a disservice. I was so focused on doing everything perfectly, that sometimes I was afraid to do anything at all. Brown says, “The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” She emphasizes that perfectionism is different from striving to do your best. It’s not self-improvement because of the strong “other focus” involved. Perfectionists dwell on “What will others think?” instead of focusing on doing the best they can.

Another one of Brown’s concepts that really helped me to see the need to let go of perfection is the importance of true authenticity. Brown defines authenticity as, “The daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” She further states that, “True belonging can only happen when you present your honest, imperfect self to the world.” I find that when I get caught up in imagining what other people think of me, I don’t feel as confident or capable as when I whole-heartedly contribute what I can.

For me, re-reading this book was a very timely reminder of the importance of doing my best work, and letting go of the stress of perfection. Where do you turn when you’re having a hard time? If you’ve ever struggled with perfectionism, I highly recommend you read this book. I’ve decided it’s one I need to review more often.


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