Inspiring Quotes from Brene Brown's book "The Gifts of Imperfection"

Have you read this book yet? The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown? I can't recommend it enough if you have any struggles around vulnerability, worthiness, authenticity, shame, doubt, or "shoulds" in life. Her approach is a beautiful mix of academic research, personal insights, and humor. Here are some of my favorite inspiring quotes from her book:

“Courage sounds great, but we need to talk about how it requires us to let go of what other people think, and for most of us, that’s scary.” (5)

“Shame loves secrecy. The most dangerous thing to do after a shaming experience is hide or bury our story.” (10)

“I realized that only one thing separated 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.” (23)

“The majority of shame researchers and clinicians agree that the difference between shame and guilt is best understood as the differences between 'I am bad' and 'I did something bad.'” (41)

“It reminds me that our imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together. Imperfectly, but together.” (61)

“But this work has forced me to see that it’s our fear of the unknown and our fear of being wrong that create most of our conflict and anxiety.” (90)

“We convince ourselves that if we stay busy enough and keep moving, reality won’t be able to keep up.” (108)

~Dr. Jenn Gunsaullus, San Diego, CA -- Sociologist, Sexologist, Sexuality & Mindfulness Speaker

Breaking Patterns - Building Healthy Relationships

It can be challenging to avoid falling into old patterns at the start of a new relationship. The excitement, new-ness, hormones, and wanting to present yourself in the best light, can create a context where old patterns are resurfacing without you realizing.

Sometimes after a relationship breaks up, you can look back and see small (or perhaps large) ways that you were not being true to yourself. I recommend making a list of questions to prepare for yourself ahead of time; start by analyzing where and how you think you lost part of yourself in past relationships. Did you agree with everything your new partner offered and said so as not to make waves? Did you use alcohol as a social lubricant to make sexual encounters less fraught with self-consciousness? Did you start spending every available moment with this person, to the detriment of friendships and other obligations?

We all have patterns and ruts that can lead to the same unwanted outcomes, irritations, and disappointments in the long run. If this resonates with you, here are some specific questions to get you started so you can check in with yourself as you’re getting into a new relationship:

  • Am I voicing my needs? In a responsible, honest way?
  • Do I feel out of balance? This includes physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually?
  • Am I reacting to irritations from a past relationship, without giving this person a chance?
  • What is my intuition telling me as to whether this is a healthy relationship for me?
  • Do I respect this person? Do they respect me?
  • Am I afraid to be vulnerable and express my true self?
  • Does this person bring out the best in me?
  • Am I taking care of and nurturing myself?

Add questions that are relevant to your patterns. Pull this list out when you have started a new relationship. Be gentle when answering your questions. This is definitely not about beating yourself up, but about staying grounded, authentic, and present in your new relationship and on your path of building healthy relationships.

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego

Blocks to Intimacy and Sex --> Vulnerability?

Last night I hosted my monthly free Coed Coffee Chat. This month's topic was: What is Intimacy? How Can it be Improved?

I was really impressed with the depth of insights and sharing from the group of 12 women and men, most of whom had just met for the first time. As we made our initial round of introductions, we each stated why this topic piqued our interest. This sharing alone offered fascinating insights into the complicated and varied perceptions of the meaning of intimacy. For some, intimacy is something created with a partner who can be trusted with our fragile vulnerabilities. For others, intimacy is something that can be created with many people, from an intense eye gazing with a stranger, to a group of women supporting and loving one another. Is sex part of intimacy? Absolutely, if you want it to be. Sex can be a powerful pathway to intimacy and transcendence. But it is not necessary for intimacy.

Although we began the meeting with different understandings of what intimacy means, there seemed to be consensus that keys to true intimacy are open communication and a willingness to be transparent and vulnerable. Yes - vulnerability. Perhaps a terrifying word for some, yet the key to loving ourselves and allowing others in for blissful intimacy.

AND...I learned a new clever way to think about intimacy: In To Me You See. Cool!

*The photograph here is part of a fine art photography series of the sensual contours of the earth, Earth Erotica, by Heather Firth. She attended this month's discussion on Intimacy and shared her wisdom!

Jennifer Gunsaullus, Ph.D.

Sex Therapy & Relationship Counseling in San Diego