Liv interviews mindset coach and host of The Perfectionism Project, Sam Laura Brown, about how perfectionism shows up in your life and how you can change it.

Perfectionism is something so many of us struggle with. Often, we don’t even realize we’re in it, and when we do, it feels impossible to leave. It doesn’t help that we live a world that constantly reinforces the idea we need to hustle for our worth, achieve an excess of accolades, and never get tired to be worthy of love and attention.

In this week’s episode, I interview mindset coach and host of the Perfectionism Project, Sam Laura Brown all about the downfalls of perfectionism and how you can start breaking free from its vicious cycle.

Listen to this episode if you’re a perfectionist, think you might be, or know someone who is, so you can begin recognizing destructive patterns and behaviors in your life.

Read Full Transcript

00:00:02 Hello and welcome to Self-Aware Millennial, the podcast for me to seeking a joyously authentic life. I'm your host and today I'm excited to say I have an amazing interview to share with Sam Laura Brown, all about perfectionism. Sam is a mindset coach, a personal development blogger and host of the perfectionism project, which is one of the the top self health podcasts on itunes. I loved this interview for multiple reasons. One, I think you guys know from listening to the show that perfectionism is something that I am working on deconstructing in my own life. If you haven't checked out the Sam website lately, and I don't mean Sam the interview, but Sam, the podcast, our podcasts, so for millennial, if you haven't checked that website out lately or you haven't checked out my personal website, I recommend you do that. I have a should, but cleanse on there and the shit, but cleanse is dismantling some of those things that you tell yourself you should do and then you add the of why you can't or don't have the time or shouldn't do it.

00:01:34 It's dismantling those structures, all that to say, Sam, Laura Brown has some amazing advice and she really helped me connect some dots on things that I've been sitting with and wrestling with and working on in my own life. I, I love this interview. It's easily one of my favorites that we've done on the show so far, so I'm excited to share that with you. I'm going to go ahead and just read Sam's about me from her website. I find it really endearing and it definitely has that informal personal style that I also enjoy. So here's about Sam. She says, I'm an I n F J, which means I'm a dreamer, I'm creative, and I always look for the good and others. It also means I tend to burn out easily. I may know a lot about personal development and perfectionism, but I'm not your average expert. I love making self-help, relatable and openly share the ups and downs with my own personal development journey so you can see what works and what doesn't and so you know you're not alone. I'm 27 and live in my hometown, Brisbane, Australia with my boyfriend. Steve. We've been together since we were 16 and bought our first house together last year. We're getting a puppy soon. I have no idea what that is and to say we're excited would be an understatement. I'd love to get to know you. I'm not just saying that I reply to every email I get. Send me an email at Sam at smart hyphen twenties dot com and say hello.

00:03:00 Before we get into this interview, I just wanted to say I messed up in the interview. I thought she was British, which now that I'm listening to her accent is hilarious and such a goofy mistake and I thought it was so appropriate and wonderful that I made the mistake on the interview about perfectionism. I had to in that moment where she was like, actually I'm Australian. Talk Myself Off the ledge of wanting to shoot myself in the face. I was really embarrassed for 30 seconds and then I was like, you know what? It's okay. You're going to mess up. It's okay that you messed up. Just keep moving forward and now you'll never make a mistake of confusing British or Australian accents ever again. One, because they're very different. I really don't know how I made the mistake and two, I will ask and slash or do my research before I casually mentioned someone's nationality.

00:03:57 Anyway, I just wanted to share that with you guys so that when you hear it you can laugh along with me because it was such a interesting thing to have happened on a perfectionism podcast. So please sit back, relax and enjoy my interview with Sam, Laura Brown, all about perfectionism. Thanks so much for having me on the show. So for my journey and kind of have gotten to where I am today. So at the moment I'm a mindset coach for perfectionist. I have my pug costs, the perfectionism projects. I'm also a blogger as well, and a writeup. But when I first started I didn't intend to have any of that happen. And to cut a very long story short, I went to uni after school so I have a law degree and a commerce degree. And when I was still a uni student I was going to my full time basically full time job that I had and I was working.

00:04:56 Um, uh, I was working on Uni quite a lot as well. I did five subjects, so over the full time load, which is something that a lot of perfectionists do, having that full plate of commitments. So on my drive to work I got sick of the ads, I was listening to podcasts and this is the reason I love having my own podcast and love being interviewed on podcasts too because they have truly changed my life. So this was 2013 and I found the Ted podcast and then I went onto discovering business podcasts, had no intention of starting my own business and after about six months got the idea to start my own blog. And back then I was bugging as smart twenties and blogging about how to make the most of your twenties. But I really had so little self confidence and it wasn't like this amazing blog or anything like that when I first started.

00:05:50 So August 2013, I actually didn't even post on my blog once, until December. I listening to podcasts completely because that was really the first time that this perfectionism stuff really came to my attention because while I was at school and while I was doing everything that was expected of me, I really didn't have too much of a struggle with it. I've caused a lot of procrastination and it wasn't helpful in a lot of ways, but I was able to succeed within the schooling system with that mindset, but once I got to business and once it got to me putting myself out there in a way that I never had before and opening myself up to criticism, I really start to experience a lot of the tendencies that come from having this perfectionist mindset. So I didn't tell anyone about it. I have been with my boyfriend Steve for five years.

00:06:48 At the time. I didn't tell him about it for eight months. I just work on it. When I was meant to be studying, I didn't tell friends and family about it. I just felt this deep sense of shame and embarrassment that someone's going to find it and then I'm going to say, who the hell are you? Because of course that was exactly what I was thinking about myself. So for about two years, two and a half years, I was just so in my own way, I was doing so much busy work and thinking that my problem was actually motivation because I'd never heard anyone talk about this perfectionist mindset. So I was really frustrated with myself. I was always struggling but never getting any results and I couldn't really figure out why it was that was happening. And it was in April 2016 that I just had this moment.

00:07:39 Like I was so sick of myself and sick of having this ambition to have a successful blog without actually acting like it. So I invested in a blogging course and there wasn't anything magical in that blogging course, but it was really just me deciding that I was actually going to start showing off and start putting in the effort and at that point. So I had already graduated from Uni with my degrees and I was working full time in the city at one of the big accounting firms in insolvency accounting, so liquidations and bankruptcies and I was then needing to wake up at 4:00 AM to work on my blog, which definitely wasn't maybe my best self because even though I like to think I could function on very little sleep, that wasn't actually the case, but I did that because it was so challenging for me to get it done at the end of the day.

00:08:35 So I moved it forward to the beginning and I really just chipped away at it for quite a few months. I then launched an online course in September 2016, which was really my first time putting myself out there to say that I have something that I can teach people. And when I first started my blog too, I wasn't even writing articles. I was just sharing different links to blogs and youtube videos and saying like, here's this interesting thing. And I didn't even have my own opinion. So by that point I had developed and I'd learned a lot as well, but I'd finally developed the confidence to say here's my recommendations, but then I launched that close and that was a very interesting experience of itself because it just brought up so many fears and doubts that I had when I decided to do that. But I did that and I made a few thousand dollars and then I decided to leave my full time job and go to a part time job so that I would actually have more time to work on my business.

00:09:37 So I did that and left the corporate world in March 2017. And so what's that nearly two years ago now. And I am still so much in this journey of moving out of the perfectionist mindset and into a growth mindset. But it's been such an amazing thing for me to grow through and go through. Because when I am now coaching women and showing up online and teaching, if I didn't have these experiences, I would have nothing to change. If I had just showed up and had no doubts, no fears, and being completely out of my own way, I wouldn't be able to share the message that I'm sharing today and to be able to help other men and women with it and when people really. Often. The thing I hear the most is when people hear about this, they're like, oh my God. Like I'm so relieved that this isn't actually just me.

00:10:36 There are other people out there doing the same thing and feeling the same frustrations with themselves and for me it was so powerful to understand and it took time. I can't even remember exactly when I figured out that it was this mindset, but to actually have a name for it so that I could do research around it. And there's a lot of very superficial advice around perfectionism, which I'm sure we can get into. Why that kind of stuff doesn't work. But it was really through this process of wanting to put myself out there and then noticing that I procrastinated and noticing that I wasn't telling anyone and noticing that I was feeling really ashamed about it and really embarrassed and scared. That was really what brought my attention to this mindset and it's been such a journey, so many ups and downs, and I'm still constantly catching myself and moving myself out of that way of thinking.

00:11:33 It does take a lot of time and repetition to be able to change the way that your brain is seeing the world. It can be done though, and it's really important to know that if you can relate to the stuff that we're talking about in this episode, it's not like you're just that way and you can never change. It's really just a set of beliefs and we can get into what exactly those beliefs are and why we want things to be perfect, even though we intellectually understand that they don't need to be. But I hope that answers the question of how it's really come to play in my life and how I really discovered that this was something that was stopping me from getting what I wanted.

00:12:15 That's excellent. And so much of your story resonates with me and my journey and everything I'm going through and where, where I'm headed. So I'm, I was kind of laughing to myself a little bit because I was like, I'm listening to the British version of my own story. I'm actually. Oh, Australia, the Australian version. Yeah. Sorry. I don't have a good ear for accents apparently. That's all right. Um, so I, I love what you, you kind of broke down several different things that you kind of specialize in and that you coach people on. But I'm wondering maybe if we can start with the, just the awareness piece because I think for a lot of people they can recognize that things aren't going the way they want them to, where they don't necessarily know why that is. So if you are a perfectionist, how could you kind of self diagnose, if you will, that that is what is plaguing you. That's the construct you're living in.

00:13:15 Yeah. So there are lots of different, I guess the symptoms of the mindset and usually people will notice that they have the mindset because of the way that it shows up. So some of them are having a real all or nothing approach. Um, so this can, for most people can relate to it in terms of health and fitness, going to the gym every day and then not at all or eating perfectly and then falling off the wagon completely. There's also, procrastination is a huge one. People pleasing fear of judgment, wanting to have everything be perfect before you start. There's fear of failure, fear of success, that kind of how it manifests and can show up. And there's a lot of other ones too, but it's typically this pattern of withholding effort in some way, shape or form, or if not doing that in a really obvious way.

00:14:11 There are lots of subtle ways we do it, like having that full plate of commitments. A lot of perfectionists are very busy people and when there's that mindset that as the attachment of the self worth to success and results and outcomes, so one way that we can get that buzz about feeling productive without actually having to be vulnerable and put ourselves out there is if we have all of these commitments, then we can say, oh, the reason I'm not as healthy as I want to be is because I'm so busy with work. The reason work isn't as good as I want it to be is because I'm so busy with this and so busy with that and we just have this really busy full life. But part of the reason that we're doing is so we don't feel vulnerable in any one area and that when we're not getting results in a particular area, we can point to something other than ourselves and it's why we'd study.

00:15:02 Most people will have experiences if they have a perfectionist mindset that they will procrastinate until the last minute and it could look like an issue of laziness or being disorganized. But typically it's because it feels so uncomfortable to put in full effort and potentially end up getting a substandard results. So it's much easier to procrastinate until the last minute. And then if you get a good result, you're like, oh my God, that's great. And imagine how well I would have done if I really tried. And then if you don't get a good result, you can say, oh yeah, but it's because I procrastinated. So it's just these ways that we give ourselves an excuse so that we never really have to take that full responsibility. And I guess that gets into what perfectionism actually is. I think it's really important to talk about this because the way it's talked about in the media and when people use that word conversationally, they typically mean someone who's neat and organized and a control freak when that is often not how perfectionist are.

00:16:10 They definitely like to be neat and organized as striving towards that. But they might actually be a very messy person because it feels really uncomfortable to be putting that much effort into something and not be able to maintain it. So it's better to go into that all or nothing mindset and just say, well, you know, everything's a mess because I'm not even trying then to say, oh no, I'm actually really trying quite hard and I like to relate. The perfectionist mindset, which is really a set of beliefs to the fixed mindset that Carol dweck talks about in her book mindset, which is the fixed mindset is where you really believe that all of your talents and intelligence and capabilities are fixed. They can't be improved upon. So when you approach life in that way, everything is evidence of whether or not you're good enough. Which is why when you have that mindset, you will tend to say no to opportunities or not put in a full effort or not really show up in the world as fully as you could because it's scary to then put yourself out there and find out you're not good enough.

00:17:16 Whereas someone who has the growth mindset truly believes that all of those, the talent, the intelligence, the skills can be developed, which is why perfectionists will intellectually understand that failure is part of the journey. Whereas someone in a growth mindset truly believes that and they actually I hit and they're actually willing to embrace the challenge and they don't shy away when things aren't guaranteed to work out, and the reason that those mantras and a little sayings perfectionism like done is better than perfect and you are good enough. Nobody's perfect. The reason that everyone gets that I'm at an intellectual level, but then they're still finding themselves scared to put imperfect things out into the wild or scared to put in a full effort is because perfectionism is really this belief. The belief underlying it is, if I just do everything perfect and look perfect, then I'll never have to feel the pain of shame, blame, and rejection. That's how Bernay Brown defines it, and I think it's such a powerful way to look at it that really it's not about getting this intellectual understanding that you're good enough. It's getting deep into those beliefs. Underpinning it. That as saying, oh, well, I just need to be perfect, so I never have to feel those negative emotions.

00:18:42 Oh my God, I can't even. I'm so glad that this interview is happening right now. I mean, you're saying things that are just like making things click. I've, I recognized, you know, I'm a classic, you know, buisiness addict since I can remember, since I've had any kind of autonomy and independence. Um, and so I've been paying attention to that and, and all of my, um, should black constructs if you will, like I should be going to the gym but I'm busy doing this, this, this, this, but I don't have time. But all of those things and I never quite, I never quite made that bridge from the buisiness addiction being yes about achievement and doing lots of things and making myself look a certain way and also avoiding myself, but I did not connect until you set it. That part of that was also giving me a good scapegoat to not show up to the best of my ability. That's, I'm going to have to chew on that one for a couple of weeks. I'm sure. That's great.

00:19:52 And it is really powerful to look at all the different ways that it can show up in our lives. And a lot of people think procrastination is just sitting on the couch watching Netflix, but there are so many ways that it comes up and particularly for anyone who's listening to this kind of podcast cause they official smart, ambitious and driven and so the kind of procrastination they will normally engage in. And when I say they I also mean me is that busy work prioritizing the low priority tasks and being so busy with all of the stuff that doesn't really matter, that there's not enough time to do this stuff that does matter. And often that is this idea that if I just had more time and the really interesting thing and this was my own personal experience too, is that time doesn't solve that problem.

00:20:44 And when you can notice that having more time isn't going to solve that problem of quote unquote not having enough time, then you can see, okay wait times, not the problem. I'm just scared. And so when I was going through that transition from being in my full time job to having a part time job to out the whole time, I was not full time job working like waking up at 4:00 AM to do blogging. I was like, oh, I can't wait until I have more time. I don't know if you've done this before, but just this magical future with more time where I'm going to have all the freedom and all the success because or when I have more time like. And I was telling myself, well if I have more time to blog, I'd be a more successful blogger and there would be more people reading and all of this whole story.

00:21:29 That made me feel really great then because I didn't have more time. So I just got to blame that instead of being like, wait, I'm not actually taking the actions that I could be taking. So once I left that full time job, suddenly the time issue had been solved. And yet I found myself just going straight into busy work because I felt so vulnerable. Like, well now I have the time. So what do I have to blame? And so I got really busy and it took me a few months even notice I got really busy with stuff that doesn't matter and the staff that wasn't going to move my business forward and I got so focused and there's always a really good reason. It's always really easy to justify the productive procrastination and spending a lot of time focusing on things that don't matter. We can really convince ourselves that they are really important.

00:22:19 But I spent the first few months, once I left my full time job, just feeling so scared because now I didn't have any excuse. I had all this time. I finally had that freedom to do things and it was easy then to just fill my time back up with other things that weren't important so I could keep giving myself that excuse. So I wanted to mention that too. For anyone who's fantasizing about more time, that usually doesn't solve the problem because the real issue isn't the time. It's that we actually just want to have something that as an excuse. And so once we get more time, we'll find another excuse or we'll just fill it up with busy work and then not have enough time again. So I don't know if you've experienced that, but it's something that keeps coming up for me. A really recent example as in yesterday I noticed that I had gone out of my habit of batch working.

00:23:16 So grouping similar tasks together. I used to record all my podcast episode. I do an on my show, it's just solely episodes so I can do them whenever suits me and I would do three or four in a day and have that all planned out. And that meant I had more time for the important stuff that was going to really move my business forward like promotion and pitching myself and putting myself out there. But then I noticed yesterday and, and just kind of caught myself. And the reason I want to share this is because even with all of this intellectual knowledge, it will still come up. Um, and so we just have to be kind to ourselves. But I noticed like, wow, I've really got an out of this habit of batching and it means now that I'm so busy struggling to manage all of these different to do's and I don't work off a to do is I work off my calendar and in my head I've been like, oh, well I figured this out.

00:24:06 But I was coloring calendaring in like working on instagram every day and working on my podcast the day before it was due to go out, which kept me in this struggle, which meant that I had again, an excuse not to be showing up in a bigger way. And so I've had to rein myself back in and be like not by going back to batching. And then it brings up that question of, well, now I have all this extra time. What am I going to do with it? Oh, I'm going to have to do those really uncomfortable tasks and then making myself do them. So it's something that can come up time and time again. And the intellectual knowledge isn't enough. But if you can have that self awareness and kindly pull yourself out of that behavior and redirect yourself, I think that's all that's needed. We don't need to then get in this place where we're able to like never sat self sabotage again.

00:24:56 And the really important thing to know is if you're always growing and evolving, this will always be part of your life. Your brain just wants you to be comfortable and it's going to try and stop you anytime you go out of your comfort zone. So people who live a very comfortable life don't experience too much self sabotage. It's once you really start to push the boundaries of what you believe is possible for you and your beliefs about the kind of person you are. That's when it really comes in. And so for most of us were going to be constantly battling against that if I want him to really put ourselves out there and achieve something and make a difference. So this isn't a conversation about how to stop self sabotaging forever. I'm definitely not qualified to teach that, but about how to just be kind to yourself as you're noticing it and a lot of people will experience some degree of frustration once they gain the intellectual awareness and knowledge around perfectionism and self sabotage and can be like, oh, I'm self sabotaging in this way and that way in this way and that way, but then we'll feel powerless to pull themselves out and they'll find themselves out of habit.

00:25:59 Just continually going back to it so it can be this period of frustration where you notice yourself doing it and now you feel like, well, now I don't have an excuse because I'm noticing it, but I'm still finding myself self sabotaging to just make sure you have that kindness and compassion with yourself that your brain's just doing its job. It's just trying to keep you safe. All of that is normal and then just like I was saying with yesterday, then I went, okay, well now we're going to go back to batching and that's going to feel really uncomfortable because I had to figure out what I'm going to do with all of this time. Where previously I was too busy to do certain things because I was having to jump between all of my tasks every day, but if I'm organized, Oh that solves my problem and then it's clear, wait, there was a reason I was filling all of my time and so I have to do that work.

00:26:53 Yeah, I think that's, that's great. And excellent in and all of those things that you said are things that I have definitely been guilty of and what I've, what I've come to learn is that if I catch myself doing that cycling thing that you were talking about where you know you're really on working out for, you know, months and months and months and then you just kind of fall off for months and months and months. If I catch myself doing that for even just a whole week. So like let's say. So for me, for me to make sure that I am prioritizing my tasks appropriately, I actually have a paper planner and there's only space for three like major tasks and that helps. That doesn't mean that I don't do other things, it just means that I have up to three things that have to get done today for my day to be, you know, quote unquote successful or for me to know that I was on point and if I don't do that for more than a week, then I, I'm able to kind of catch myself and go, okay, what am I doing?

00:27:55 Where am I starting to fall off? Where am I starting to try to hide myself underneath all my tasks and my to do lists? That brings up such a great thing as well around one way that we can sell sabotage and I love that you said that because that's a measure of accountability that you have this goal and you can say, wait, I'm not made enough to that. I wonder why that is. For a lot of people, self sabotage looks like vague goals. Oh no goals or no plans and I'll just see how the day goes and I don't want to say any new year's resolutions in case I disappoint myself. That is self sabotage and I could go into the disappointment stuff for a long time so I won't go down that tangent, but to really just recognize that when you are having really vague goals as in I want to be fit, I want to be healthy, I want to be successful, I want to be productive, like that's too vague to actually grapple with and to figure out what to do, so that's one way that we let ourselves feel good about having an ambition without actually giving ourselves the opportunity to follow through with it so we don't have to deal because often when we figure out, okay, well now I'm going to have to do this and that.

00:29:06 That's when the fear and self doubt comes up. So vague goals are a way that we get to feel good about being a goal setter without actually having to deal with this stuff that comes up and we set goals or a lot of people will have no goals. They'll say, I just don't want to disappoint myself. I just, we'll see how it goes. You know? No expectation, no disappointment, which I think is like the saddest mantra that anyone ever came up with, but that's such a, um, uh, an unproductive way to live life and I'm really in the sense of evolving and growing that when we don't set any goals like we're doing that so we don't have any accountability and so we can just fingers cause see how it goes. I hope I go to the gym and we don't end up actually following through and of course we don't because we don't actually ever make that decision or set that real intention and make the commitment. So I just wanted to point that out as well, that what you were saying with having this tool that you're using the three priorities and then noticing yourself, not actually meeting them. That gives you that accountability. So you can say, wait, I had this clear plan. I'm not following that. Why is that? And it gives you that chance to examine it. Whereas if we don't have any goals or we have really vague goals, we don't have that accountability. So we don't actually have that same opportunity to catch ourselves.

00:30:27 Yeah, I think that's a great point and probably a huge part of why this system has worked for me because I've tried a bunch of them, you know, since this came into my awareness and this one just seems to work really well, but something came up for me. Um, while you've been speaking about I'm using my. So you mentioned that, you know, the gym multiple times, which my fitness and wellbeing, um, specifically physically, but also mental wellbeing has been something that um, I haven't prioritized. And when I think about it in the construct of perfectionism, it's another really great scapegoat. Um, you know, I'm too busy to go, but really ultimately what I'm doing is making myself not feel great so that I have excuses to not be out in the world or to be seen or, you know, put myself out there so all, you know, every time I have like last, you know, 20 pounds and toned up and I feel really great about myself.

00:31:25 It takes about three months before I start drinking more than I really want to, or eating foods that disagree with my system or, you know, whatever. I'm doing to kind of sabotage myself and I will give myself the excuse of being busy, but really what I'm doing is setting up a fail safe. I'm setting up a, a really great reason why I'm not successful. And so I, I, I, I'm getting to a question. I'm really sorry. It's taking me forever. So what I'm, what I'm doing, I've recognized this pattern and I wanted to change it and so the thing that I started doing now is not setting a weight goal or a, I'm going to do this program. I set a consistency goal so it doesn't matter what I do, I just have to do it consistently. And so I'm just wondering what's your take on that or your thoughts on that.

00:32:19 That's an amazing way to approach it and that's been the same thing for me. I used to be completely old and nothing with going to the gym, especially if I was ever doing a 12 week program, you can bet wake one to four. Perfect. Absolutely. On point week five, I'd stop and like I went through multiple times and to me I thought, oh that that's something happening with my motivation, but for me that was really noticing that people were tending to get results in that program around week five and if I wasn't thinking that I was getting those results, then it was easy to just quit. So having that. The way I got out of that all or nothing approach is exactly what you said. Having that consistency goal, that effort based goal and I like to have consistency to make sure there's that helpful definition because sometimes for a perfectionist, consistency can mean every single day without fail and then it just kind of triggers that.

00:33:17 Olin. I say mindset, when life happens or they're unwell and something breaks that chain to go, oh well I should just abandon that. And obviously we don't consciously say that, but we suddenly get too busy or we find another reason to quit. So what I did to get out of it is instead of, and I was exercising for vanity reasons instead of doing that, what I did was I created a performance base goal and that's because I have a different mindset around performance than I do around my body and it makes no sense intellectually and I don't know if this is just a product of the kind of marketing around your body and like six second abs and this expectation that a lot of us have that you should be able to put in minimal effort and get this huge result. Whereas I know for example, if I want to do a pull up our chin up, I'm going to have to really work for it.

00:34:13 Like I'm not going to be able to do it on day one. And I know that to get to that kind of goal, the consistency has to be that. But whereas with weight or with body, there are other ways that you can manipulate it. But I knew that for a strength based goal, performance based goal, which I'd never set before, I was actually going to have to really show up consistently and consistently didn't mean every single day. I like to approach consistently as having it be more often than not. And just having that mindset around it. When I say I'm a have a consistent habit, that doesn't mean I have to do it 100 percent of the time, it just means that I do it more often than I don't do it. So I took that performance based goal and had like reverse engineered the effort I would need to put in to achieve that goal.

00:35:04 And then I focused on the effort. I praise myself for putting in the effort. I rewarded myself emotionally, not with food, but emotionally being like, I feel so proud of myself. I'm so glad I showed up today even though I didn't feel like it. A huge part of this too is not telling yourself the story you're meant to feel like it. I like to approach things now as if I feel like it great, but if I don't feel like it will, that's just what I should be expecting because it's not comfortable and why do we expect to feel motivated to do something uncomfortable. So just changing my expectations around how it should feel and I used to do like I should only go if it's going to be a good session. So I kind of judged before it how I was feeling physically and if I determined it wasn't going to be a great session that in my head it was better to just not go.

00:35:56 But when I had those performance based goals and I was really focused, like you were saying on the consistency, that was really powerful for me and ironically I ended up in the best shape I ever was because I was so consistent, but only from focusing on the consistency itself instead of continuously being focused on the end result. And then constantly being like, am I gay? Am I there yet? And I'd really love to talk about self image too, because I think that could really be at play in the example you were talking about and it really has a huge impact on how we act and it definitely comes into play with self sabotage. So I'd love to talk more about self image, but in terms of saying consistent with health and fitness, definitely having that definition of consistency that it's more often than not. And of course we want to make sure that all of the work we're putting in, particularly if it's around business or career or anything like that, that we want to make sure it's going to add up to something.

00:36:54 Though. Of course there are lots of reasons. Now I exercise for my mental wellbeing so I don't need to necessarily have that goal in the same sense because it's valuable in and of itself, but we do want to make sure that it will add up to something so you can still have that end goal that end result there. And then reverse engineer what effort would make that inevitable. And then you just let go of that end result. And you stopped saying, am I there yet? And you just focus on putting in the effort and rewarding yourself emotionally, feeling proud of yourself, praising yourself for the consistency. And of course when you're consistent, you're so much more likely to get the result. Then when it says all or nothing approach.

00:37:38 Yeah, I love that. And you touched on something that I'm noticing with my consistency goal over like a specific workout plan is that I'm actually enjoying the process more and I almost never think about the end result. And I'm noticing changes in my body much more acutely than I was before. Right? Because I was waiting for the, the Aha before, after a perfect picture that I could post kind of thing. And now I'm like, oh look like I'm stronger here and you know, this looks a little tighter and all of these things and while I'm actually working out, I'm like enjoying myself.

00:38:15 And once we can enjoy the process and I try to do this with my business because it's the same and or career or anything like that in the sense that we can think, oh, just be happier when x, Y, Z happens. And then of course for most of us we have achieved a goal and then being like, oh wait, I feel about the same to just really recognize but always in the so if we can enjoy it. And of course when you're enjoying it, you're so much more likely to show up and to really be willing to go through it. And then we get way more results. And like he was saying, like I experienced, I was the fittest and um, that I had ever been when I was actually not focused on that. But when I was constantly being at all, nothing and there yet I just kept going back into quitting whenever it wasn't working out perfectly.

00:39:05 But I'd love to talk about self image and what you were saying around you would get to your goal and then you just find yourself self sabotaging to go back to what was familiar to you. Is it okay if we dive into that? I would love that. Yeah. So what I wanted to talk about on that is that we always act in accordance with who we believe we are. And so when you were talking about that, it really made me think about, um, often, and we do this in every area of our life, but to make it specific, that example you were sharing that you might've had a belief that you don't deserve to have a body like that or you might've had a belief under there that you're just not that kind of person. We have all of these statements in our life. I'm the kind of person who did it or I'm just not that kind of person and we say it like we're just reporting the weather.

00:39:57 But really those statements are what creates our action because we always want to prove ourselves. Right? So for example, it sounds a procrastinator and I keep telling everyone they're a procrastinator. Even if they download all the apps to stop that and I try all the tactics. If they continue to identify as a procrastinator, they will fall back into procrastination. So the same way that if you might've been self identifying as someone who isn't in the best shape or someone who isn't very fit and you hold onto that identity, it means that when the reality changes, because our brain is always looking for evidence to support what we believe and we are always going to act in accordance with it. You would have dismissed that as being an exception and then you would have started self sabotaging so you could go back to your comfort zone of how you believe you are.

00:40:46 And I'm not sure if that resonates with you or not, but it really is so powerful and I've had a lot of growth in my own journey. When I started identifying, and this will sound like a trivial example, but I was always telling everyone I can't. Like I can't look after an Indo plan to save my life. Like I just wish I had a green thumb but I just don't, like I was saying it as though someone comes out of the womb and they're good at watering a plant on Wednesdays or they're not really identifying as I just, I love plants, but I just thought I killed him. I just can't look after them and of course I would demos and looking at my plans and that provided more evidence. And so once I started learning about this, how self image and identity really plays into this, I just did a little experiment with it and because even though as it applies to everything, looking after plants, wasn't that emotionally charged for me.

00:41:42 So it was just a fun little thing to play around with. But this comes into like whether you think you're a morning person or not, whether you think you're a gym person or a healthy person or an entrepreneur. There's so many different statements. We have that for me, looking after to Indo plans wasn't that emotional. So it was just some lame fante try. So I started telling myself and anyone if it ever came up, I stopped. I completely stopped saying, I suck at looking after indoor plants. I just said, yeah, I'm really good at it. Or I would tell myself this story. I'm really good at looking after indoor plants and at that point in time I wasn't actually yet good at it. Even though I began to be able to look back and say like, wait, that are actually plants I haven't killed, even though they're the ones that thrive on neglect, there are plants that have survived and just telling that new story before there's the evidence then creates the evidence.

00:42:34 Often we want to act differently before we let ourselves believe that were that different version of ourselves, but you need to actually create the new belief and then your brain, your reticular activating system. It's always looking for evidence to support your current beliefs and whatever you're telling it. It's true and important. So I had to start telling myself this different story that I'm actually really great at looking after indoor plants. And what do you know? I started looking after them properly. I actually acted like an in the beginning. It feels weird, uncomfortable [inaudible]. I'm like, okay, well what would someone who would say that? What kind of action would they take all that actually figure out when each plant is to be watered and then when it came time that water the plant instead of waiting for it to look like it was dying, they would have that approach where they're actually maintain it.

00:43:23 So it's such a simple, trivial example, but it applies to so many different things that when we can actually start telling ourselves this new story about ourselves, I'm the kind of person who and whatever it is, and then in the beginning having to just reinforce it and saying, okay, well what would that kind of person do? And then forcing yourself to take that action, it's so powerful and it's a piece people often miss. So then they might do what you did and have that goal. They achieved that goal, but their self image isn't aligned with it, so they just self sabotage to go back to whatever their self image was in that area. So the really great way to get someone to achieve a goal and then be able to maintain that result is to move this self image and alignment with the goal before the goal is achieved. That's excellent. Wonderful, beautiful advice. And I'm, I'm actually really glad that you said that because as soon as you started talking I was like, oh, I can. I can totally tell you what it is. I, I'm, I'm not the pretty girl, right? I'm, I have personality and I achieved things and I can get stuff

00:44:32 done and I'm reliable and loyal and I'm a good friend, but I'm not the pretty girl. Right. So I think when I started, you know, I got to what society said was acceptable and I started feeling that way about myself. It was like, uh Oh, this is not who you are. Identity structure kind of, I guess relapse, if you will. Yeah. So I guess what I need to do is, and I, you know, I've been working on this too, but not thinking about it in relationship to perfectionism or self sabotage. I need to keep working on seeing myself as beautiful regardless of aesthetic and that beauty is, you know, whatever I say it is.

00:45:16 Yeah, and just also recognizing like that reminded me of a belief I've had to work on is an, a lot of people with the perfectionist mindset will have a really strong identity around being smart. And to me I had this identity, like this belief that the better I look it means the less smart I am actually makes no sense, but I know a lot of people have it and it's really, I think this portrayal that that is in the media where someone's really attractive. They assume they're not smart and someone's really smart and I always look less attractive. And so in my head it was like, well, if I'm more attractive, that's making me less smart. And that's really what this identity and self image around being smart is really what undermines us in so many ways. Because if we need to be smart all the time, that means we need to do things were already good at.

00:46:08 It means we need to just keep our world very small. So that we're never putting ourselves out there and stumbling around. We have to maintain this image of being smart, so we never want to get any evidence that we're not smart. And of course that means we really can't say yes to so many opportunities because there might be some evidence that we're actually not as smart as we think. And having your own self image and identity shattered is one of the most uncomfortable things. It's why even though you might consciously want to be at a lighter weight, you will bring yourself back because you just still identify as I'm not the pretty girl and it's so powerful to think of what would the self image of who you'd want to be like, smart, end at whatever weight is the most comfortable, healthiest for you. Like what self image can you create that will actually pull you towards it because as you experience, like you got pulled back by yourself, image to where you were before and even though you were able to achieve that goal, you just self sabotage to get right back there.

00:47:15 So you could be right about. I'm not the pretty girl. And that is something that comes up in so many ways, like people saying, I'm just not a morning person and they wonder why they keep snoozing their alarm. There's so many different ways it's self image comes to play in self sabotage and impersonal growth and development. And so I, I just wanted to touch on that because it's been really powerful for me to make that connection into really do the work whenever I'm setting a goal to also intentionally think about what self image will I need to have that's in alignment to that goal so I can start seeing myself as that person before I actually have the evidence that I'm that person. And sometimes we can have like self image, especially when you're in your twenties and figuring out what to do. You can have this self image of struggling and you really create an identity around struggling for that.

00:48:15 What to do with your life and being lost. And then so people get to this point where they have an opportunity to get that clarity and they literally stopped themselves from it or get the clarity and pull themselves back into confusion because they have this self image. I'm just someone who's always struggling, why does this always happen to me? And even though it feels like they're just observing it, it's literally creating it by having that self image because we're always pulled back to it because they always want to be right about who we are. So for example, with the fitness stuff, you would have to have a different belief around yourself and have that before you're at that way to be able to then maintain it.

00:49:00 I love that and I've just thought of like at least three or four of my friends and I'm going to. I'm going to tell them, stop saying that about yourself. You're just screwing yourself over [inaudible]. Yeah, it's great. I, I want to say one more, one more thing that came up for me while you were talking and then I'll let you go so you can go be fabulous elsewhere. But I'm, one of the things that I have attached to my perfectionism is the story of me not being enough of anything and the, the ways in which I'm engaging in perfectionism or, you know, trying to not engage in perfectionism, being directly related to like not enough of something. So like for example, if I'm using, you know, my weight or ultimately it's my weight, but also it's mostly I'm just not taking care of myself so I don't feel good about myself. Um, and that also being a product of not enough prettiness to be a pretty girl or whatever. And I'm just wondering what your thoughts are on that and how you coach your clients through those, those spaces.

00:50:06 Yeah. Something. I'll share my own journey with this. So something that's really powerful is reframing and really getting it to the point where you can get it, not just intellectually, we all know that we're good enough, but to really truly get it. And so for me, that came, like that real realization came for me. I was doing a personal development seminar and we needed to call people like in our real life. Um, and share with them, and I saw a bit of my story is that my mom passed away from breast cancer when I was 11 and I hadn't realized it, but I had made that mean that I was abandoned and I had felt ashamed. I had felt ashamed about that. And then going forward I had always added this layer of shame and with perfectionism, going back to what we were saying earlier, that it's really us trying to avoid shame.

00:51:02 So I had experienced that. That's what my brain as a child had made that experience means. So there's what happened, which was she passed away and there was a story that I put on top of that which is I've been abandoned. Everyone else has a mother. I don't have one and all of this. And so I had a conversation, I had to call my dad and I had a conversation with him about. And I was basically just telling him as though I was just like literally reading the news. Like this is what's actually happened. And I was saying like through tears the whole time it was very emotional because I'd never actually addressed it head on like this meant that I wasn't good enough, this meant that I wasn't good enough and he was just like, what the hell you talking about? And I was like, I had it really just snapped me out of it and I get goosebumps talking about it because to anyone else's like, well yeah, that's obvious.

00:51:57 But I had just put this story on everything and especially with shame, what we tend to do is bottled it up, never talk about it and just kind of pretend it's not there. And then it really fast is. So I never spoken about it and part of the reason that I was crying was just because I was feeling so much shame to share all of that. Like when this happened, it meant I wasn't good enough and this and this and this. And he was just like, what do you like? That makes no like this was for this, this was for this. And giving his own explanation and just having that light shined on that whole story. I'd told myself that wasn't actually true, it was just my perception. I can't even explain how it happened, but it just so much chatter in my head about not being good enough, like it just dissolved and I still there to some extent, but that was huge for me and it can be challenging to get to that point where you're ready to actually get it.

00:52:57 That's that, but it's really. I guess what my answer is is it's really understanding that this isn't something we can just get with fluffy quotes and get it this intellectual level. Like even if people are constantly telling you you're good enough, as you probably have experienced, it doesn't matter if you don't believe it and we have this disbelief. It's not at a conscious level. A lot of us believe in ourselves consciously, but then there's something under that. When someone compliments us, we can't quite take it. We deflected. We don't believe it's true and that's why so many perfectionist feel extra frustrated because they're achieving all these results. They've got supportive friends and family and yet they still don't feel good enough because then you're like, wait, I'm doing everything I meant to be doing. I have all the friends and family and I have support like I'm not in this horrendous situation and I still don't feel good enough, but it's really being willing to do that inquiry into mode for most of us says something in our childhood that regardless of whether you had a traumatic upbringing or normal upbringing, whatever that means or any thing in between, our brains just make add this layer of story and for most people there has been some experience whether it's been a horrible experience.

00:54:16 So not that we have gone, okay, that's evidence. I'm not good enough and we haven't consciously done that. We've done that as a kid and then that story has just carried through for our entire lives and we've never actually stopped to question like, wait, could there be another way to look at this? And really kind of unraveling it. And it takes a lot of, I think, deep work to get to that place where you can be like, I am good enough and to be like, what the hell does good enough even mean anyway, and just having a whole different perspective on it, which I do now, but I don't think that is this super quick fix answer and that's why so many people get frustrated that they know they're good enough, but they don't feel good enough. It's really being willing to do that work and to get coaching and to put yourself in different situations where it's really going to challenge the beliefs that you have about yourself and about the other people in your life and what their actions meant because there is that difference between the facts of what happened and you can tell something is a fact when every single person would agree on it.

00:55:25 And then there's the story that we all add on top and most of us just live our lives from that story of this man. I'm not good enough in this man. I'm not good enough. And just for me, when I had that conversation with my dad and he was just like, what? And I was like, oh, I just, I literally thought I was just saying the truth and like saying reality and to just have that moment and it took a lot of vulnerability and a lot of discomfort to get myself to that moment. But I wanted to share that like it wasn't just that I could understand it and read enough quotes and that kind of thing. I think it really does come from this willingness to dive deep into the beliefs that are under there. So I know that's not like any one, two, three tip kind of answer that I can give.

00:56:13 But that's been my own journey with it. And when I'm working with clients were really looking at the beliefs that they have driving them and getting to understand what is actually happening. And we won't just do that on an intellectual level and just be talking about it. But often we have a goal that they're working towards so that we can. As I was saying before, when you have a clear goal with clear guidelines can, you can really see when the self sabotage is coming up and you can really see when there is a belief that it's stopping them. So it's not really just about thinking your way into being good enough, but having those goals, having that, those things that you're going after, not for the sake of achieving them, but because when we do that it brings up all of our junk and then that's when you can really start to look into things and reframe them in separate what happened from the story on top of it. So I know that's not an answer that someone can action in a day, but that to me has truly been the experience with getting myself from not believing I was good enough and no matter what I achieved, I never felt it to now being at the place where I really do get it.

00:57:27 Yeah, I think that's great. And you actually brought up a really great point for why someone might want to work with a coach. Um, I know sometimes people ask me this, so like what's the difference between this and therapy and why would I want to do a coach and blah, blah, blah. But you touched on I think two really important pieces, which is one, if you're trying to achieve a goal and it really matters to you and you've recognized that you're not always achieving the things that really mattered to you. Coaches can really help facilitate that process. And then too, if you want to start confronting your, your shadow and your self sabotaging or really any of the things that get in your way. It's really helpful to have someone who has the tools, skill set and the distance, you know, they're not in it with you to point out that stuff. Every time I've either really, really wanted to make something happen or I've really wanted to start dismantling things that I knew were obstacles in my life, but I was too close to it to see them. I've worked with a coach and it's been excellent and wonderful and just the most helpful thing

00:58:28 and that's why I have a coat. Even though I can coach others, it doesn't mean I can coach myself and I need other people to be like, Hey, can you see this? Can you see that? And really helped me through that process. So I have a coach at the moment and I've had a lot of my biggest breakthroughs have been when I've really invested in myself because when you invest in yourself, you can listen to older inspiring podcast episodes and read all the books, but it's when you invest in yourself, like I for sure wouldn't have had that breakthrough if I hadn't have invested in myself because I was then committed to getting that end result. But I just want to speak quickly to the difference from my perspective between therapy and coaching. Therapy can be very past focused. Um, and it's kind of like digging back through your pos, whereas quite junior really looking at like the past doesn't.

00:59:21 All that matters is the thoughts that you have about the past. So it's all like present day. What are you currently thinking? Because obviously the past is the past. It has ceased to happen, but it's the thoughts that you're having about it and the other difference that I find, so coaching is a lot more future focused and focus on how you're thinking in the moment rather than like digging through your childhood and you don't have to do all of that digging through the childhood stuff. That to me it was really helpful because I was like, oh wait, that's where all the shames come from. Oh, that makes no sense. And that was a huge breakthrough I had when I realized that I felt ashamed about my mom dying and I used to say I lost her. It was like that language of abandonment that I lost her.

01:00:06 I tell her and I lost my mom and now I just say she died or she passed away because telling even like subtle things like that. It's telling that story of loss and abandonment and of course I miss her. Of course, I wish he was alive, but how telling it in that way just perpetuated this self-pitying, this shame around it with the other difference with, um, from my observation between, and this is of course generalizing with therapy and coaching, is that with therapists that tends to be or therapy, this idea of having other people meet your needs and communicating your needs to others, particularly with relationships. Whereas coaching, it's really about you giving yourself everything you need and you taking complete emotional responsibility so you're not blaming your coworkers for the fact that you don't like your job. You're not blaming your partner for the fact that your relationship isn't good.

01:01:00 And I say fact in inverted quotes, but to really have that responsibility that all of my feelings come from my thoughts and yes, in some circumstances it's easier to have nice thoughts and others, but everything. It's not about what's happening around me. It's not about what other people are and aren't doing. It's about my thoughts that I'm having about that and really examining that. Instead of saying, well, I need this person to be different, to be happy and then I need this person to be different so I can be happy. It's really saying, wait, everything I feel is coming from my brain and the thoughts that I'm having and then gaining that awareness and really being mindful and of course we can't catch all of our thoughts. We have way too many, but even just catching a few key ones can have a profound impact.

01:01:46 So when people ask me as well about the difference between coaching and therapy, I think they both definitely have their place, but I see that to be those, to be the differences between coaching and therapy. I think that's a great distinction. And I love, we're definitely gonna end it here because everything you just said is exactly what this podcast is for and about. It's recognizing that you have all the power in your life and, and reclaiming that and kind of finding your way back to that center. Um, catching the stories, catching the thoughts, recognizing that you know, someone else can't make this better for you. You have to make it better for you. Yeah. And just to finally to tie that into the self image, I know that like for song with mental health, for example, if they have a diagnosis in that maybe helpful in many ways to just also, um, I know for myself, I wouldn't say I have anxiety, but I've definitely had a tendency when my life gets too good, my brain just looks for something to be anxious about, to not label that as anxiety because as I was saying, we get pulled back to ourself image.

01:02:55 So if we identify as being someone who struggles with something in particular, maybe it's anxiety, maybe it's depression, whatever it is. If we really create an identity around that, then we just get pulled back to it and we might actually have a way out of that. But we really see ourselves as that person. So we keep bringing ourselves back to it. So whenever I have those anxious feelings, I don't let myself say I am anxious. Um, I will say I feel nervous and even though it's a, it doesn't feel like nervous. It feels worse than that. But it just kind of takes the sting out of it and stops me from identifying with that anxious feeling because when I say I am anxious, that just makes me feel even more anxious. So that's just something I wanted to mention and I'm definitely not qualified to be talking about all different things around the clinical clinically diagnosed mental health issues. But I think that in any area, self images, so important. And while labels, this applies to perfectionism too, that it's helpful to have that construct so that you can then get the tools that you need to then not be too attached to this identity of I am this kind of person because then even with the best intentions, if we keep that identity, that will just get pulled back into that same old behavior and the same thought patterns so that we can be right about ourselves so that we can be right about ourselves.

01:04:27 That I'm not attached to that anymore. Because sometimes when I'm wrong, it's so much better. Thank you so much, Sam, for your time. Um, I'm, I don't ever really go back and re listen to the episodes that I'm definitely going to relisten to this. It comes out because I, you know, this is something I'm working on actively right now and you just said so many wonderful things, so thank you. My pleasure. I'm so glad it was helpful. Thank you guys so much for listening. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you would like to get in touch with Sam, connect with her, see her coaching services might be right for you. All of that information is in the show notes at self-aware I'd also like to mention that I am getting ready to launch on Valentine's Day, a new course called get your joy on.

01:05:22 I know I've mentioned working on it a few times in the past. This, I believe is the first announcement of the official launch date. If you go to the self or millennial website, you can go view the course. If you go to my website live hadn't dot com. You can also view the course. You can check out what it's all about. I'll, I'll elaborate more as we get closer to that release date, but if you preregister for the class, you get 10 percent off the total price. It's a year long class because we're doing really heavy work. Joy, as you might know, is not as easily accessible as we want it to be. We have to dismantle and get rid of and move a lot of obstacles out of our way. So, uh, I've made it a year for some specific reasons you can go read all about that. Go to sell for Click the get your joy on tab in the top of the menu that'll take you right to the landing page and break down what the classes and every single lesson is actually outlined there. I recommend checking it out, see what you think about it, and preregister for 10 percent off. In the meantime, remember, I love you and I like you.

Meet Sam

Sam Laura Brown host of The Perfectionism ProjectIn August 2013, while procrastinating on study for an upcoming law exam in my university library, I decided to start a blog. I didn’t hate my life but I knew I was capable of more. The problem was I had no idea what to do so I decided to blog about it and Smart Twenties was born (that’s what this blog used to be called).

I may appear confident now but when I first started blogging I experienced crippling self-doubt and was too ashamed to share my blog with anyone – including those closest to me. In fact, it’s blogging that made me realise I was a perfectionist. While I was on the traditional path to success my need to please hadn’t caused too many problems. As soon as I decided to put myself out there, the procrastination and people pleasing soared to a whole new level.

After two frustrating years of getting in my own way, I’d had enough. At that point, I’d graduated with a Bachelors of Commerce/Laws and a Diploma of French and was working full-time at a big accounting firm, but it didn’t matter – I was finally ready to go all-in. I hired a coach, I invested in blogging courses, I doubled down on personal development and I worked my tail off.

In March 2017, I mustered up the courage to quit my full-time job for blogging. It’s been a wild ride to get to where I am today but I’m living proof that it’s possible to get out of your own way – and I’m going to teach you how to do the same!

Want to connect with Sam? Find her on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Show Notes

  • In Sam’s intro, she says she’s an INFJ. If you aren’t sure what that means, they are letters that represent her Meyers-Briggs personality type. If you want to take the quiz for free and find out your letters, click here. Mine are ENFJ.
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