Book Notes May 22nd Chapter 2 Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging and Being Enough

“Love and belonging are essential to the human experience.  …only one thing separate(s) the men and women who felt a deep sense of love and belonging from the people who seem to be struggling for it.  That one thing is the belief in their worthiness.” Pg 23  She goes on to say that to really feel love and acceptance we must believe we are worthy of love and belonging.  It is important to believe that no matter what, we are “enough” just as we are, right now.

I liked her comparing the difference between fitting in and belonging.  “Fitting in gets in the way of belonging.” (pg 25)  “Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted.   Belonging …requires us to be who we are.”  (pg 25)

I found this quote interesting: “…Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”(pg 26)  She goes on to say that it is important to practice self love (acceptance) by “learning how to trust ourselves, to treat ourselves with respect, and to be kind and affectionate toward ourselves.”  (pg 27)  “Given how difficult it is to cultivate self-acceptance in our perfectionist society and how our need for belonging is hardwired, it’s no wonder that we spend our lives trying to fit in and gain approval.  It is much easier to say “I’ll be whoever or whatever you need me to be, as long as I feel like I’m part of this.”   (pg 27)  “Incongruent living is exhausting.” (pg 28)

To live congruently we have to understand when it is and why it is we are hustling for worthiness, rather than just accepting ourselves as we are, we are enough we are worthy.


Chapter 3, The Things That Get In The Way.

In this chapter, she focuses on the things that get in the way of us moving forward in our lives.  As she says we all know what to do to lose weight, to make good choices with our money, how to take care of our emotional needs yet…”We are the most obese, medicated, addicted, and in-debt Americans EVER.” (pg 36)

What gets in the way is our shame, fear and vulnerability.  (pg 36)  She refers to this as “the swampland of the soul”.  This is not the area we need to “camp out in” but we do need to go there, look at what we are carrying and share our story with a trusted, “worthy” friend.  It is time to talk honestly about our fears, our shortcomings, our areas of life where we feel less than adequate, as it is only in the talking about that we can overcome them.  She says that Shame cannot survive in the open, it needs secrecy to thrive.  She gives some excellent examples of this from her own life and shares the sense of relief she felt once she had shared her story.

We all carry shame, ALL OF US.  It is only when we can look at it and talk about it that we can move on to the next phase of our lives.  She talks about the high expectations we put on ourselves.  We carry the message that we need to be perfect in all things and at all times.  She refers to these self messages as the messages that fuel the “never good enough” feeling and belief.   “Shame is basically the fear of being unlovable-it’s the total opposite of owning our story and feeling worthy.” (pg 39)  Shame is the fear that if people know all about us they will think less of us, distance themselves from us.  “Shame loves perfectionists- it is so easy to keep us quiet.” (pg 39)  Secrecy gives shame control over us.

I think she has much important information in this chapter and I think the most important piece in all of this is in finding someone WORTHY of hearing your story before sharing it.  Telling the wrong person can result in increased feelings of shame and unworthiness.  People have to earn the right to hear your story.

Her description of the differences between shame and guilt is also very helpful.
Guilt = I did something bad.
Shame = I am bad.
Shame is about who we are, and guilt is about our behaviors.”  (pg 41)  Shame keeps it a secret, guilt talks about it and uses it to help us move on to do better.  “Shame is often destructive.  …it corrodes the part of us that believes we can change and do better.”  (pg 41) “Shame is related to violence, aggression, depression, addiction, eating disorders, and bullying.” (pg 42)

What a great chapter.  We had some interesting discussion about the extra voices in our heads going non-stop during certain times of our lives and what we can do to get beyond these “tapes”.

Next Saturday, June 1st is Dream Interpretation week at my home(1-3pm)  If anyone needs information on getting here or wanting to car pool please contact me at Then on June 8th we will discuss Guidposts 1,2,&3.  Also in the chapter on Guidepost #2, pg 61 there is a site with the Self Compassion Scale.  It is  I recommend going to the site and doing the scale before we meet on the 8th.

Have a Wonderful Memorial Day Week-end.





Book Club Notes May 19th, Preface, Introduction & Chapter 1

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.”  Brene Brown The Gifts of Imperfection

Brene Brown has researched shame, fear and vulnerability for years.  She says that she noticed over time there were a group of people who managed to live amazing and inspiring lives in spite of all they had been through.  She was curious as to what these Wholehearted (pg x) individuals had in common.  She wanted to know what these people valued, how did they create this resilience in their lives.  She decided to create two lists, Do and Don’t.  Under the Do list she wrote words like worthiness, rest, play, trust, faith, intuition, hope, authenticity, love, belonging, joy, gratitude and creativity.  Under the Don’t side she had words like perfection, numbing, certainty, exhaustion, self-sufficiency, being cool, fitting in, judgment and scarcity.  (pg x)  She said as she sat there and looked at the list, really reading the words she had written, she realized with absolute horror that the Don’t list was her life.  Following this realization she went into therapy to look at her own issues and it was only when her therapy was over that she pulled the lists out again and decided to write this 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. (pg xi)

She goes on to say that knowledge is important, but only if we are kind and gentle with ourselves… (pg xi)  She describes mid life crisis more as an unraveling, a time when we feel a desperate pull to live the life you want to live, not the one you’re supposed to live. (pg xii)  It is a time to start to worry less about what others think and pleasing others and a time to do what feels right for us to do.  A time to set better boundaries, saying No when we do not want to do something and saying yes to relaxation and play.

She finishes the preface with “I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we will ever do.” (pg xiv)


“Wholehearted Living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.  It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connections to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.  It’s 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.”

So many times in life we feel exhausted, yet we push ourselves to go on, push through to get everything done.  She says there is a better way and she refers to this as DIG Deep.  She says when Wholehearted living people get exhausted they get

Deliberate in their thoughts and behaviors through prayer, meditation or simply setting their intentions

Inspired to make new and different choices;

Going.  They take action.  (sometimes this means something restorative) (pg 5)

She ends the introduction with this paragraph.  “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it.  Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy-the experiences that make us the most vulnerable.  Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

Chapter 1 Courage, Compassion and Connection: The Gifts of Imperfection

Brene Brown initially talks about shame in this chapter and as is her style she is brutally honest about times in her life when she felt shame.  She tells of a time when she knew that a talk she was giving was not going over well and how she tried repeatedly to win over one particularly surly looking man.  She then goes on to say “…trying to co-opt or win over someone like that guy is always a mistake, because it means trading in your authenticity for approval.  You stop believing in your worthiness and start hustling for it.” (pg 9)  Following an incident like this the feeling of shame washes over us and we are feeling like we would like to hide under a rock.  Instead, this is the time to use our Courage to find a person worthy of hearing our shame, and to share our shame with them.  Shame cannot survive in the open, it seeks secrecy.  On Oprah I heard her describe the difference between shame and humiliation like this: When a teacher mocks a child in front of the class and the child feels angry to be treated this way so comes home and tells someone, that is humilitation.  When the same thing occurs and the child tells no one, that is shame; they have incorporated the wrongdoing within, seeing themselves as the problem.  So living wholeheartedly means having the courage to accept ourselves warts and all and still feel worthy.

Compassion means “to suffer with”.  “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.” (pg16)  “The heart of compassion is really acceptance.  The better we are accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become.” (pg 17)

Connection is “the energy that exists 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.”   She says we have an innate need for connection, which makes the sense of disconnection more dangerous.  She briefly addresses the difference between connection and communication, particularly in the age of facebook, texting and computer time.

I had never thought of this before but Brene states that “Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart.  When we attach judgment to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.”  (pg 20)  It is important that not only do we like to help, we know when we need to reach out and ask for help and we feel safe to do so.


Next week we will do Chapter 2 and 3 and start Gaitpost #1 if we have time.  We are meeting Wednesday evening at 5:30 just this week.  See you Wednesday.  Have a wonderful week.