Ep 83 | How to Overcome Perfectionism and Embrace Who You Are

We all struggle with the fear of not being enough. We are good at faking it. We go through the world smiling, acting as if we are okay when in reality, we might be inwardly struggling.

Perfectionism is striving for flawlessness by setting unrealistically high standards for ourselves. We use perfectionism as a shield to avoid rejection, shame, criticism, and failure. We try to be the perfect worker, spouse, parent, follow the rules, and so on, yet it leaves us feeling exhausted. 

In today’s episode, Kim explains how perfectionism shows up in our lives and provides insight into how to rewrite our stories and begin living a bigger, bolder life full of imperfection that is a truer version of yourself and feels so much better.

What’s in the episode: 

  • What is behind our "not-enoughness"
  • The definition of perfectionism and why it keeps us stuck
  • How the fixed mindset and getting praised for achievements creates perfectionism
  • What perfectionism is actually hiding
  • How to rethink our stories and embrace our authentic selves

“When you start to make decisions that more aligned with who you are at your core, you will probably outgrow a lot of people. ” 

- Kim Strobel

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About Kim

Kim Strobel is Chief Happiness Officer at Kim Strobel Live Events and Retreats. She is a teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, happiness coach, and mission-minded person whose passion is helping others overcome their fears and discover their joy!

You can follow Kim’s journey on Instagram at @KimStrobelJoy and in the free private She Finds Joy Facebook community.


Kim Strobel 00:09 

Hello, and Happy Wednesday, if you're listening to this on the day it's released. If not, we're happy you're here and listening when you have time, today's topic is really going to be about working with our inner critic, we're going to cover working with our inner critic, how to release that crazy perfectionism that we mostly hold on to, and then how to practice more self compassion, which we've been talking about in previous episodes, this is something that's really hard for us. And then what I'm going to do is I'm going to give you four steps to help you shift from inner critic to self coach. All right, let's get started. Shifting our inner critic, I believe that we have a couple of common fears. And those are irrelevant no matter who you are. And I believe one of those is that we all fear that we're not enough. We struggle that we're not enough, just as we are. And in fact, I believe that we're also afraid to let our true selves be seen. And I know that that is constantly my work, I know that the person that I put in front of others today is definitely more authentic, and closer to herself than she used to be. But there are times when I find myself kind of backing up into my own corner, or not liking the feeling of being ridiculed for being who I am, or doing things differently. You know, I think, I think back to the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer show, and sometimes I feel like I belong on the Island of Misfit Toys, do any of you ever feel like that, where they have like the jack in the box that keeps jumping out all of the time and the elephant missing an ear, it's sometimes I have felt kind of alone in just my belief systems and the way I want to go out into the world. And what I have found is, is that you can find other people who are also on the island of misfit toys, and we're not really miss fit, it's just that we have to find our people. And what you're also going to find out I think a lot of the time is that you when you start to kind of become your authentic self more. And you start to make decisions that are more aligned with who you are at your core, you know the very depths of you, what you will notice is you'll actually outgrow a lot of people, once you start doing what's best for you. And that's really hard. It's really hard because it's uncomfortable, and you feel like something is wrong with you. But you'll notice that as you continue to do this inner work on yourself, that you will move into different circles. And you will attract people who are more aligned to doing life the way that you do life. But let's talk a little bit about this fear of not being enough. And I think we all go around with these personas, right? Like when I'm working sometimes in a school, and I get teachers to open up and be really vulnerable. You know, they admit that they're going through the halls and they're smiling and they're acting positive, but inwardly they're kind of falling apart right there. They feel like

they're deteriorating, they feel irritated and frustrated and maybe depressed. And so we all kind of put these facades or maybe some of us have a facade of like, it's so important for us to look like we are a really wonderful parent. I know this has been one. For me, it's like, I've needed the approval of other people like my mom, you know, that was really important to me that my mom felt like I was a really good parent, even though maybe I do things differently than she did. And so, you know, I think that some of us are out there and we're trying the best we can to be this really great parent, but then maybe you know, we're locking ourselves in the bathroom and kind of crying silent tears because we sometimes wish that we could escape to a private island for the next month. And so, you know, I think that We find it really hard to be true to ourselves. And we worry about what others think like, Am I doing all of this? Good enough? And so, and I think that worthiness, we put prerequisites on worthiness we say things like, you know what you will finally be worthy. When you lose 20 pounds, I see women do this all of the time at the gym that I go to, they will make it a go like, Oh, okay, well, I started exercising, and I have this goal, and I want to lose 20 pounds, and I want to get stronger. And if I meet that goal, then I'm gonna go out and buy new gym clothes. And I say to them, You know what, you're already you're worthy right now of new gym clothes, like you, you are not less worthy, because you think you're 20 pounds overweight, like you need to send a message to the universe, that you love yourself enough to know that you're worthy of those nice gym clothes right now. The other thing that I find interesting is when I see people come into the gym, and maybe they are overweight, or you know, they haven't exercised in years, this is a generalization, but most of the time, they all wear black or gray. It's fascinating to me. And then I watched them and as their confidence builds, as they get stronger as they get better at the aerobics class or the spin class. And I can see this transformation where they start to feel better about themselves. And lo and behold, they show up and they're wearing color. And I think that's so interesting, you know, I'm an observer of everything. You know, sometimes we have a prereq prerequisite that says, You know what, I'll be worthy when I'm a less emotionally reactive parent, or I'll be worthy. When I make a certain income, I'll be worthy when my marriage is better, or stronger, or I'm a better partner. And I think the lesson for us as hard as it is, is to understand what Brene Brown says, and I'm bringing her up again, because she talks so much about this, but you are worthy of love, and belonging, right now. You are worthy of love and belonging, regardless of your past, regardless of your present mistakes, you are worthy right now. And we have to really work on knowing our worthiness. And we also have to work on being okay with imperfection. And that is so hard, I believe, actually, that perfectionism is the lowest standard we can hold ourselves to. Because when we hold ourselves to the standard of perfectionism, we will stay stuck. Because we will never make the move in our life that we need to make. Because if our goal is, well, when I'm great at this, when I'm perfect at it, when I have this skill set, I can go for it. There are so many missed opportunities. When you wait for perfectionism. And I'm going to give you some examples of this. This was a hard one for me. I remember when I was creating my first 90 Day coaching program, you know, you just have to start, and I'm sure it wasn't perfect. I'm sure there were 100 things I could have done better. But I had to start somewhere. So I just put it out there imperfectly, knowing that my people would get what they needed to out of it. But that it could definitely be improved. If I would have waited until it was perfect, I would have never launched the thing. When I go back to when I started saying you know what? I'm just going to start calling myself a motivational speaker. That's how it really started friends. I was like, You know what, I'm just gonna call myself a motivational speaker. I don't know why I just feel like this is my jam. And I could do this. I've never done it before. And so I added it to my website. And then I got my first call to be a motivational speaker at a conference with 900 people. And I remember sitting in the front row of the auditorium as the conference leader was greeting and welcoming everyone and I sat there so nervous thinking, I felt like an imposter, right like impostor syndrome showed up like, Kim, you have never done this before. What made you think you could call yourself a motor

Rational speaker, when you've never stood on a stage and given a keynote talk, you know, these 900 people, what would they say if they knew that you had never done this before? So even though I was having those thoughts, you don't have to believe your thoughts. They're just thoughts, what you have to do is take action. And so I got up on that stage, and I gave it my best, because you have to start somewhere. I also think about the stat that I read recently, that says that men only have to feel like they have about 10 to 20% of the skill set needed when they apply for a job. But women won't apply for a job unless they feel like they have 90 to 95% of the skill set. And so I think we have to start doing things differently. And what, what Brene Brown says is that, perfectionism is not the same as striving to be your best, because I have released a lot of perfectionism. Not all, but a lot, okay. And I had a moment this morning, where I gave a keynote, and they followed up and said, hey, we'd really like to hire you to do that same presentation with our entire staff. We loved it. It was wonderful. We had such good talk, we want to bring you back. And then towards the end of the conversation, the superintendent said, but could we give you like three things that we feel like might be a little bit better to do next time. And immediately, you guys, my face got like really hot and I got so nervous that what he was going to say was just going to humiliate me. And because I wanted it to be perfect. I didn't want them to have any, any. I didn't want them to think that anything could have been different that like I had delivered it perfectly. And so I sat there and he said, well, first of all, I just want you to know, like, you know, you were explaining happiness, and that it doesn't matter if you live in a 900 square foot home or a 5000 square foot home, which I always say during my talk. And he said, You need to know that nobody in this area has a 5000 square foot home. So he's like, you might just kind of just not even mention that. And I was like, Okay, that's good feedback, right? And then he said, Because the other thing is he said, we're super conservative community, like very conservative. So a couple of times in the presentation, you said like damn, because I cuss a little bit when I give a keynote because it usually gives like a fun laughter and that's just who I am. I'll be like, you know, that little shit. And he goes, You know what, while we thought it was funny, he goes, there are some people who are going to find that offensive. And, and so he gave me like three little things. And, you know, immediately I could like feel my shame. rise to the surface, because we that was my perfectionism coming out. So just know, you know, I'm still working on this. But Bernie says perfectionism is not the same as striving to be your best perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, if we look perfect, if we act Perfect, perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment and shame. And she says that we use it as a shield. And that it's really, perfectionism is really about shame. We're always like silently hiding behind perfectionistic behavior. All right, and shame as you learned in the last episode, that is one of the hardest feelings to feel. And when we look at the vibrational frequency scale, which I've talked about in earlier episodes, and we know that love and joy and courage and hope those all carry a higher vibrational frequency because we know that emotions carry vibrational frequencies, and they become part of you during that moment. And shame and guilt are like the very lowest they are below fear. They are below depression, like when you're feeling shame, it is heavy, heavy. And so what she says is that when we're lugging perfectionism around, it's exhausting. It's heavy, right? I have a friend who is completely steeped in perfectionism, so much so that she can't she can't even she can't even see it. And not only that, but like it exhausts her like I will. I've watched her for years exhaust herself, trying to produce the perfect two children, which they quickly showed her they will not be perfect, trying to be the perfect housewife trying to be the perfect You know, schedule her, she has this calendar in her kitchen. And I mean, every single thing is scheduled. And she loves this perfectionism around. And it's the expectation that she has up herself that she, it's just such a heavy thing. And what what Brene says is that we think that it's protecting us, right? Like, okay, if I just can do this all perfectly, I can avoid the feelings of shame. But she says, what it really does is it prevents us from flying, right. And so when I think back, like, if I had waited to be a really good businesswoman to launch my business, I would have never launched

it, I would have never become a motivational speaker, I would have never created a course I would have never created the happy Academy. And so what we have to learn to do, is we have to learn to start stepping out there and doing things, even if we do them, imperfectly, because doing them imperfectly is better than not doing them at all. And so, you know, when we're thinking about people who are extreme perfectionist, or how it shows up in our own life, like it showed up for me this morning, when I was having that conversation with the superintendent, most perfectionist, deep people were raised getting praised for their achievement in their performance. And this goes along with Carol Dweck 's work on growth mindset, right, because she says, people who have a growth mindset, they, they understand that failure is part of the process, they understand that they are more than their intelligence, they are more than their athletic ability, that those things do not define them. But when you're in a fixed mindset, you over identify with your intelligence, you over identify with your skill set with your ability to perform. And for many of the people who are in a fixed mindset, right, they were praised for their achievement, or their performance. Like they got good grades. And they were, they were praised. They got a good job. And they were praised. They followed the rules. And they got, they got praised. They were they they fix themselves up pretty, they smiled pretty, they were nice, they had good manners, they were praised for that. And we have to be really careful what we praise for because we are in a society right now where we praise for everything, especially when it comes to our kids. And when we praise talent, when we praise intelligence, when we praise skill set, what we're really doing is sending a message to the child that says you know what, you're getting this recognition because of how you performed. And what we want our children to know is that it doesn't matter how they perform, they are still worthy of all of our love. They are just as good of a person even when they don't perform that way. And so then we have all these adults who were performed like, Oh, you're so smart. You know, you're such a great artist, you're, you know, and we hear that over and over again. And then that makes us fearful because what happens when we're not anymore? Who are we when we're not anymore. And so somewhere along the way, we adopt a belief system that says I am what I accomplish, and how well I do it. And my value comes not just from being me, but my ability to please people to perform proof for people and to perfect for people. And so when we're thinking about perfectionism Brene says perfectionism is what will they think? Or how much can I accomplish in a day. And I will tell you, that's that's so many times me. If I just have had low energy levels, and I've dilly dallying around all day, and I've checked social media, and I went shopping online for shoes, and I just did not get very much accomplished. I don't feel good about myself. But when I worked like a 10 hour day, and I'm completely freakin exhausted, and I dragged myself out of the office at like seven o'clock at night. And I'm just depleted. But there's that little voice in me that says, Oh, Kim, you're a good person you worked really hard today. And right there in lies the problem. And so the research shows that perfectionism hampers us in so many ways. It leads to heaviness, anxiety, depression, life paralysis, right, because there's all these opportunities that we miss out on, because we're too afraid to put anything out in the world that might be imperfect, or we're afraid to follow our dreams because what if we fail? What if we disappoint others? And so I think that one of the things we need to consider is the thing that is really hard. And is really amazing, at the same time, is giving up on being perfect. And instead beginning the work of becoming yourself. And so what I want to do real quickly before we in this, because I know we've talked a lot, we know that perfectionism also comes from that inner critic, right, that critic that rears up and tells you all of the ways you are not good enough. And I remember we have 70,000 thoughts a day, and so 80% of those thoughts are negative. And many of those thoughts are like, Oh, I should have done this, or I shouldn't have done this, or I didn't handle this well, or I'll never lose this weight, I'll never get organized. I'll never get ahead of the laundry. I'm such a bad mother, I'm such a bad housekeeper. I'm not an attentive enough, whatever, right. And so all of these thoughts, these negative inner critic thoughts, they affect our motivation to act, they affect our attitude, they affect our biochemistry, our

physiology, and they also control our behavior. Because we feel anxious, we feel scared, we feel paralyzed. And it reminds me, it reminds me of this story that I read years ago in Reader's Digest, and it was about this really strong, healthy young railroad. Man, he was a yard man. And he had a loving wife and he had all these friends. And one day, the crew was told that they could quit an hour early. But while performing this one last check on some of the railroad cars, Nick, the man, the yardman, was accidentally locked in a refrigerator boxcar. And when he realized the others had left, he panicked, he began to use a knife to write messages to his family that said, it's so cold, my body is getting numb. If I could just go to sleep, these may be my last words. And the next morning, the crew slid the door open, and Nick was dead. And the autopsy revealed that he had frozen to death. But get this you guys. The refrigerator in the car was it wasn't even working? Right. And it indicated that it had been 55 degrees the whole night. And so Nick had killed himself by the power of his thoughts. And so we know that negative thoughts weaken us. And those negative thoughts many times come from our inner critic, that voice that lives inside of our head. And so we're gonna talk and I've already gone over in this episode. So I just feel like there's so much more to say about this inner critic. And I know at the beginning, I said, I'm gonna give you four ways to go from inner critic to self coach. But I think I need to talk more about the inner critic in the next episode, because in this episode, we talked a lot about perfectionism, we talked a lot about not going after more of what we want, because of our fear of what others will think. And we talked about worthiness and understanding that we are worthy of love and belonging from ourselves and from others, regardless of how we perform, regardless of our skill set. And these are all great reminders. And I want you to really reflect in your life and ask yourself, How is perfectionism showing up in your life? Is it assisting you? Or is it keeping you stuck? And in the next episode, I'm going to talk about some ways we can move out of that perfectionistic attitude, that modality, and we can move into learning how to deal with our inner critic and practice some self compassion. So I hope this is helpful. All right, folks, we are really close to closing the doors to the happy Academy for 2020 to 2023. As in, you have eight days left to enroll in the happy Academy. And if you've been listening to these episodes, and going, this is me, this is what's keeping me stuck. I'm afraid to make a move in my life. I'm letting fear overrule me. My inner critic is so strong that it's keeping me from being the best version of myself. I am scared to take risks. I am scared to feel uncomfortable. I'm going to tell you that the happy Academy is for you. Because we're going to work on all of these topics in a very deep way. And we're going to integrate these strategies into your life so that it's more than you just hearing them. You're gonna get coached on how to get off your lily pads, how to step in To all that you are, so that when you feel better on your inside, you're able to get massive results on the outside. So this is it. If you're like, I can't get the happy Academy out of my mind, but I'm so scared to invest in myself, it feels scary. You gotta invest in yourself, you got to send a message to the universe that says I am worthy of giving myself this time, I am worthy of giving me myself this course. I am worthy of actually doing the work so that I can begin to create a life that I desire. I would love to have you in there. I love, love, love when I get to strategically coach and support you along this journey. So here's the deal. This is it. This is your last chance. We won't be reopening it again until later next year. Okay, go to struggle. education.com Click on programs, click on the happy academy or send your school leader the information and I would love to talk to them about it. Friends, I love you. I'm rooting for you. I want the best for you. Have a good day.

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