How to Journal: The Gifts of Imperfection

giftsLast week I focused on a book near and dear to my heart, The Artist’s Way, and previewed a few writing prompts I gleaned from each chapter.

Today I will do the same with Brene Brown’s bestseller, The Gifts of Imperfection.

For those who might be unfamiliar with Ms. Brown’s work, she is an expert on shame research.

Shame? I thought. I don’t suffer from shame. But after reading this book (three times and counting), I discovered shame is prevalent in my life.

Brown’s simplified definition crystalizes its harmful effects:

  • Guilt acknowledges poor behavior – I did something bad – and is helpful in making amends.
  • Shame, on the other hand, says I am bad and prevents us from living authentic lives.

Understanding shame is instrumental to another dichotomy Brown discusses:

  • Belonging means being accepted for who we are. Belonging cultivates authenticity
  • Fitting in, on the other hand, means becoming someone else in order to find acceptance. Fitting in breeds shame and low-esteem.

The Gifts of Imperfection is a must-read book if you are interested in whole-hearted living and accepting who you are meant to be. The author breaks down this process into ten Guideposts for living, each one focusing on a trait we must learn to cultivate, as well as a trait we must learn to release.

A simple outline of these chapters is found below – and the prompt questions are simple:

  • How can I cultivate ________ in my life? … Or put another way…
  • Why do I avoid cultivating ________ in my life? In what way do I feel underserving?
  • How can I release _________ in my life? …Or put another way…
  • Why do I continue to hold on to ________ in my life? What purpose does it serve?

Working through these guideposts little-by-little will help bring emotional healing of a broken past and hope for a brighter future.

Need to Cultivate… Need to Let go….
Guidepost #1:



What people think
Guidepost #2:



Guidepost #3:

Resilient Spirit


Numbing and Powerlessness
Guidepost #4:

Gratitude and Joy


Scarcity and Fear of the Dark
Guidepost #5:

Intuition and Trusting Faith


Need for Certainty
Guidepost #6:



Guidepost #7:

Play and Rest


Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth
Guidepost #8:

Calm and Stillness


Anxiety as a Lifestyle
Guidepost #9:

Meaningful Work


Self-doubt and “Supposed to”
Guidepost #10:

Laughter, Song, and Dance


Being Cool and Always in Control

6 thoughts on “How to Journal: The Gifts of Imperfection

  1. My sister-in-law was reading this one recently with a church group I think. I suspect it might be a good one for me as well. Thanks for highlighting it and telling us the difference between guilt and shame.


  2. Pingback: How to Journal: Introduction | Revising Life after 50

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