The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown

Posted by Suzanne Holmes | Posted in Recommended Reading | Posted on 22-02-2015

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The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are Paperback – September 1, 2010
by Brene Brown


In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we’d no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, “What if I can’t keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn’t everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?”

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate 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,” and to go to bed at night thinking, “Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.”

“This important book is about the lifelong journey from ‘What will people think?’ to ‘I am enough.’ Brown’s unique ability to blend original research with honest storytelling makes reading The Gifts of Imperfection like having a long, uplifting conversation with a very wise friend who offers compassion, wisdom, and great advice.”
—Harriet Lerner, New York Times best-selling author of The Dance of Anger and The Dance of Connection

The Hidden Gifts of Destructive Emotions

Posted by Suzanne Holmes | Posted in Articles | Posted on 13-04-2014

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By Suzanne Holmes, M. A., LMFT

Feelings are messages, but what are they telling us? How can we step back and explore the meanings hidden within the challenging emotions of anger, sadness and fear? If we are able to be curious when our bodies are experiencing the physical sensations that accompany difficult emotions, we can find the gifts in the midst of chaos and avoid personal or relational destruction.

All emotions have a range from mild to extreme. It is best to process or talk about what one is feeling as the emotions are felt with a trusted friend, family member or professional and not internalize or self-sabotage. Suffering with these destructive emotions can result in mental distress, a longing for something to be different, or even physical pain. Stress, tension, and physical ailments are products of continued suffering. If we are able to externalize or let out these destructive emotions, we feel more harmonious, congruent and happy with our self and in our relationships.

Let’s start with Anger. This emotion can equal resentment, irritation and frustration. Anger is present when a need is not being met. If we look at anger as the tip of the iceberg, what is hidden under the surface? Is it unresolved grief, loss or resentment? Anger is like a big stop sign. Your body is trying to give you clues that something is not working. If we are able to look at the positive side of anger, we can find the gifts of assertiveness, strength and energy.

Sadness is the emotional pain of loss that makes us feel lonely, full of self-pity, despairing and isolated. The feeling of sadness is normal and usually temporary. We are all in constant flux. If we can embrace the sad feelings, we can move through the adjustment and into a new beginning. The transition from one feeling into another can take time. Be patient and kind to yourself in where you are at in each moment. Ask for help, you might be surprised at the sadness that others have experienced, and be able to assist each other in the healing process. The gifts of sadness are growth, personal awareness and interdependence.

Lastly, let’s discuss the challenges of fear. Fear can paralyze us in our tracks, so we become frozen and numb. Fear is equal to feeling overwhelmed, apprehensive or threatened. In Become What You Are, philosopher and writer Alan Watts (1995) addressed this experience, “Life compels us at last to give in, to surrender to the full play of what is ordinarily called terror of the unknown, the suppressed feeling suddenly shoots upward as a fountain of the purest joy” (p. 8). Acceptance in the process of each challenging emotion lowers our defenses and helps us move into action or acceptance. In doing so, we can also acknowledge that all people face the future with a not knowing. In facing the unknown with approval and grace towards yourself, maybe each individual can grow internally and externally integrating the life lessons.  The gifts of fear are protection and safety of self, preservation and wisdom.

If we are unable to meet the challenges of exploring destructive emotions in their beginnings, we experience the negative effects in a greater degree.  In Counseling and Therapy Skills, educator and counselor David Martin (2000) stated,  “One of our goals is an openness to all experiences—an openness that is necessary to live a full, complete life” (p. 57). In this openness, all things are possible: Hearts can mend and suffering can lessen.

Martin, D. (2000). Counseling and therapy skills. Prospect Heights, Il: Waveland Press.

Watts, A. (1995). Become what you are. Boston: Shambhala.