Episode 183: Perfectionism vs. Striving
Welcome back to Live Free Creative Podcast. You’re listening to Episode number 183: Perfectionism vs. Striving. I have been thinking about this episode for a few weeks and I’m super excited to share it with you.
We’re going to talk about perfectionism in a way that I had never heard about it until a couple months ago, when I went to a forum at our local elementary school and heard a professor at VCU and a psychologist, clinical psychologist shares some insights and some research about perfectionism and striving.
I think that the information in this episode will be super applicable to your life, whether you identify personally, as a perfectionist. Whether you have family or friends that you recognize some perfectionist tendencies in, or if you like me have children that you can see struggle with some of the challenging aspects of perfectionism.
Segment: Life Lately
We’ll get started today with a quick life lately before we dive into the episode.
Today’s life lately is about our new house. Dave and I went on a walk last night and we were wandering around the neighborhood everything’s in bloom right now. It’s so beautiful. We were commenting about how we’ve lived in our house now for three full months. And it feels like we just moved in.
It has been an interesting transition. Even though we are mostly unpacked and things are fairly organized. It still is so much of a blank slate. Because it’s a little bit bigger than our last house and because our life looks a little different, the workflow that we have, the stages of our kids and all our animals, our ability to dedicate like a big, huge chunk of time to the house itself to decorating, designing, and thinking about that, the house has been a little bit lower than in years past.
With our previous house, the blue house, it was pretty much a full-time job because I was using our remodel as an aspect of my own job. I was working with Home Depot. I was working with Sherwin-Williams. I was using my house as a platform. We needed to remodel anyway, and so I was taking advantage of that to build on some partnerships that I had in the past, doing a lot of blogging about it, sharing a lot of the before and after and specific details and DIY, and we didn’t live in the house while we remodeled it.
We were able to kind of have the compartmentalization of living in a rental house and I would go over and spend, you know, full days working. The new house, our current house poses, a little bit of a different situation.
One, because I’m not actively DIY blogging about the process. There may be things here and there that I share, but for the most part, my blog and business has gone a little different direction over the last couple of years where I’m focused a lot more on intentional living and living life with purpose and focus more on the podcast than on the blog.
So that aspect of like not using it as fodder for my content has been different. And that means that it hasn’t been as easy to dedicate specific time to it during my workday. Another thing that’s different is that it’s not a full remodel. We really loved the, the bones of the house, the layout of the house.
We like the size of the house. And there were a lot of things that had recently been redone that it seemed silly to rip out and redo just because we didn’t like it as much as we might have if we chose it ourselves.
One example is the kitchen backsplash is a ceramic tile marble. It’s the same tile that my mom chose in her recent kitchen remodel. It’s beautiful. It’s very traditional. It’s very different than what I might have chosen if it was a blank slate, but because there’s already this tile backsplash and it’s a brand new, I mean, it was redone in 2018. It seems silly and a little bit wasteful to rip it all out and to start over when I like it okay.
So, the house itself has been an experiment in being okay with things that I like that I don’t necessarily love the very most, or that I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen myself.
We did redo the floors. We love the floors and we added hardwood upstairs, which was all carpet when we moved in. That feels really refreshing. We also cut down the kitchen island, which was a two-tier island down to one big flat, plain with a white marbleized courts called London fog.
It’s beautiful and instantly changed the feel of the kitchen to have that one big open gathering space that we can put up a food on. There are now some stools there. So, my kids use it as a breakfast bar, just absolutely transformed the functionality and the look of the kitchen, which is nice.
I brought home these beautiful hand painted tiles from Portugal, from my birthday trip in February and learn how to tiles. It was my first solo tiling job.
I applied the tiles to the front of our wood-burning fireplace. It’s right when you walk in our new house, it has kind of a sitting room with a fireplace. It would have been the original living room of the house. But the addition in 2018, added a second living room in the back that combines with the kitchen.
So, we’re using it as a sitting room. There’s no TV in there. It’s kind of like a glorified entry. I really love sitting in there and reading. It’s one of the cats’ favorite places to curl up on the chair. The original brick fireplace had been painted over. It was just white. And as soon as we saw the house, I thought that would be so pretty with a decorative tile and a wooden mantle.
The tile is done at this point. I put it all up and I grouted it. And so, the next step that I’ll hopefully be working on in the next month or two is building a wooden mantel surround. We’re covering all the brick so that when you look at the fireplace, it will look like a wooden fireplace surround with the tile and you won’t know necessarily that it had been brick before.
I think it’s going to be a beautiful addition. The wooden mantle. I found a cool colonial design that had a free PDF online. And so, I’m going to be following this pretty classic traditional design. And then in that sitting room, all the molding is a really periwinkle blue called Scanda, by Sherwin-Williams.
The fireplace surround will be that same blue. It’s going to be pretty. I shared; I’ve shared a couple pictures on Instagram recently about some of the in-progress things happening at my house. And I had a friend comment and say, this house is designed and styled so differently than your last house.
And I agreed. I feel like this house for whatever reason, really begs for a cozier, layered, traditional look than our previous house did. I don’t know exactly why that is. Maybe some of it is because we’re not changing as much as we would if we were doing a full redesign.
My personal favorite style tends to be a little bit of like a Southwestern, eclectic minimalist style. And in this house, I’ve felt really drawn to a more traditional, layered, colorful wallpaper and textures and rugs and color. I’ve found that I’m growing a little bit tired of the sparse kind of farmhouse style, more minimalist, modern. All white, all neutrals, everything.
I just am drawn, maybe it’s getting a little older. Maybe it’s feeling a little more settled. Maybe it’s the house itself that was built in the early forties and has some traditional elements already to it. For whatever reason, the style that I’m heading in with this house is a little different than before, and I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s going to be a slower process.
I think just embracing that has been nice. Sort of pivotal point of the last couple of weeks regarding our house is that I made an online consult with an interior designer who I really admire, who has this very layered, traditional Scandinavian style named Meta Coleman. If you aren’t familiar with her work, you must look it up on Instagram.
She just has beautiful, rich, historic design style. She has worked with a few people who I really love and admire. Brittany from House that Lars Built. I love some of the work that Meta has done for her. She also designed a house in collaboration with Hannah Carpenter and house is so fun and a little bit retro, very layered. Very cool.
I have just kept coming back and back to some of these images that feel so filled with life. Even though I love design myself and I feel super capable and really trust a lot of my design instinct, I was excited that Meta offers these one-off calls through a website that I had never heard of before called the expert where you can book a one-hour call and you just pay a flat fee for one hour and hop on the call and you can send pictures ahead of the call.
And then just ask questions and address whatever kind of stumbling blocks you’re coming to in your design. And the main stumbling block that I had felt up until this point was that are in this new house, the three main rooms of the first floor connect to each other. The entry is wide open to the dining room is wide open to the kitchen.
Trying to figure out the cohesion of these three rooms. From the front door you can see all the way to the back door through these rooms. And so, I just wanted to make sure that the color has felt similar, that the style went well together. How to kind of address the bigger picture of the house. I booked this call and was not disappointed.
During our one hour we looked at the pictures, we settled on some colors, primary colors that we wanted to use throughout the house. She gave me some ideas for rugs. And one of the pieces of advice that she shared was start with the rug, start with the floor, get a big rug that kind of echoes the feel that you want for the space.
It will ground everything. And then you can build from there and. There are lots of pieces of conversation. We talked about wallpaper, we talked about color as we talked about kind of the overall style, and she recommended a few different websites and a few different wallpapers. And basically, didn’t give me any clear, like I think I hoped for like, here’s how you should do it.
And what she gave me was a lot of great guidelines for making my own choices, which was helpful. Just getting some validation and a little bit of a push, like a nudge towards get started. What, you know, get a rug. Here’s some colors to work with. Here’s some different resources to build upon. She said, pull it all together.
Like get samples of things. I tend to just buy things and put it up and then hope for the best. And she said, get some samples, get an overall picture and, and allow yourself to really move forward.
Having that call just opened the flood gates, where I was able to then feel like I knew the direction I wanted to go in and I had some basic outlines, so I didn’t follow all her directions completely because I did start ordering some things without having like a full mood board put together.
But I have now some rugs, I felt like I wanted to lean into the traditional, kind of old school, European vibe of the house. I have wallpaper samples now that I’ve picked, and I think I’ve settled on one for the front room, this kind of cool vine leaf pattern that I think will complement the blues. So, the colors we’re going for in the house in the main level are blues and greens and pinks.
And I know it sounds like very broad, but I already have the blue happening in the front room and the blue and white tile. And I love blues and greens. Anyway, and then I just thought kind of a salmon terracotta pink would be a fun, unexpected kind of richness added. In our previous house, I loved our cabbage rose study that dusty pink is just such a beautiful, kind of warm, evocative color.
Just having the simple framework has helped me to make some decisions. So now we have, lots of new, old furniture. I’ve bought a few things secondhand. I’ve sold things that worked well in our last house that aren’t going to fit in this house. I’ve adjusted a couple of my built-in plans and I’m just really loving, I’m loving, getting started and settling in and feeling like I have a direction to go.
It’s still going to be a process. There’s still a lot of decisions that I haven’t made and I’m being patient with one step at a time and feeling okay. Working when I have some free time, we’ve had painters tape up. I still haven’t finished painting the trim in the front room. There’s been painter’s tape on it for like maybe a month and a half now.
And I will get to it. I will get to it. It might take a little while. That’s okay. This whole process, the buying and selling of our homes and moving kind of unexpectedly and settling into a new space has been an exercise in inpatients and in trying to remain calm and in allowing myself to go slowly, looking at my progress over a very long lens of time, rather than feeling like I need to get it all done at once and allowing myself to enjoy my life in between.
Not block off whole weeks to just head down, focus on the house, but allow, you know, an hour or two of work here or there, and go on walks and eat a nice meal and go on date nights and meet with friends and get my work done for my company.
There’s been a lot more balanced. In the last few months than maybe in previous moves. And maybe because I recognize the burnout that can happen when I, you know, kind of hyper-focus on one thing and make myself do it all at once. I do still like to make a list and break it down into small pieces. And I’m just allowing myself to make those pieces small and be okay doing that.
At a time. That’s my life lately, slow, slow, slow, steady progress to make our house feel more like home.
Perfectionism vs. Striving
About a month ago, I went to a talk at our local elementary school. They’re doing this cool thing the PTA has sponsored. That’s a parent forum once a month. They’re having a speaker come in and present on a topic and this is free to the parents and the speakers can choose a charity where their stipend is donated.
It’s just an all-around great thing. I’ve learned some amazing things in the last couple of months that I am excited to share here. This topic, the forum was about perfectionism. And I went really interested because I have a couple kids with perfectionist tendencies where I notice that if they don’t feel like they’re going to do the best job period. Like the very best, they’re not interested in even getting started.
We’ve been working on growth mindset. We’ve been working on really celebrating the process instead of the outcome. And I still have been at a loss a little bit. So, I went thinking, oh, I’m going to learn some strategies for working with my perfectionist, which I totally did.
And more, I also was able to recognize some things about myself that I wasn’t aware of before because of the differentiation between perfectionism and striving.
This talk by was given by a local clinical psychologist Phillip Kudelka, who I believe also teaches at VCU. He talked about the case for nurturing healthy perfectionism, which is something that I hadn’t ever heard of before.
I want to share some of the things that he shared with us, as well as some insights as to how we can build our striving while at the same time. Battling the negative effects of perfectionism.
Three Types of Perfectionists
The first thing that he shared that I thought was mind blowing. I hadn’t ever heard about this before was to define some of the characteristics that make a striver different from a perfectionist.
Have you ever heard of this before? I hadn’t. He shared that there tend to be three groups or classes. One is the non-perfectionist. Now this is where I’ve always categorized myself. I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist. In fact, in my book more than enough, I wrote I was born without the perfectionism gene.
This is simply because I don’t tend to worry so much about the outcomes. Even though I often want to do things well, and I work hard at doing things. Well, I thought that being a perfectionist meant that you worked so hard in them were really upset when things didn’t go right. Or didn’t go according to your expectation.
This is where the differentiation is so important. A non-perfectionist tends to not have perfectionistic striving. They’re not super concerned about doing things well in the first place. And so, when things don’t go great, they’re not worried about it. So, this is someone who doesn’t necessarily have a lot of motivation for achievement doesn’t necessarily want to do well at things like is kind of okay. Not pursuing goals or pushing themselves to progress.
Now that doesn’t fit me. And so. Sharing about these three classes I thought, huh? Maybe I’m not a non-perfectionist. Maybe I fit somewhere else on the scale.
The Adaptive Perfectionist
And then he talked about a striver or what he called an adaptive perfectionist. This is someone who wants to achieve, wants to do well, wants to push themselves and has fairly high standards for their work product and process. And what they lack is the concern or the negative self-talk that happens at the end of the process.
Even if the process doesn’t go according to plan, an adaptive perfectionist will be able to bounce back and say, it’s okay. I worked hard. I tried hard. This was the best I could do now. And I’m going to continue to learn and do better. This felt more like where I see myself that I have always wanted to do well at things, but I was okay if I didn’t.
And then the next one was what we think of as a perfectionist, the unhealthy perfectionist who has really high standards for their process and for their outcomes. They’re hard to please, when something falls short of their expectation, rather than feeling like it’s okay, I’m going to do better next time, an unhealthy perfectionist tends to have a lot of negative self-talk around the product and around the process and believes that it may have been better if they hadn’t begun.
The Three Types Compared
There was a study done in 2014 by Gilman, Rice, and Karbony, that talks about these three different types of perfectionists and their profile and their adjustment types. I want to just share to give you a better feel for this. The non-perfectionist is someone who, according to this study sets lower standards compared to the groups, the other groups may not respond well to mistakes can be some self-critical, but not as much as unhealthy perfectionist.
So not really trying super hard and, you know, sort of met about the outcomes. These non-perfectionists report, higher levels of depression, and a sense of inadequacy as well as lower levels of hope and self-esteem compared to adaptive perfectionist.
Interesting, this kind of like a non-striver.
The unhealthy perfectionist sets high standards for self and others along with extremely high levels of self-criticism likely responds very negatively to mistakes. And this type reported very high levels of anxiety and social stress, similar levels of depression, and a sense of inadequacy compared to the non-perfectionist less hope and self-esteem than adaptive perfectionist or strivers.
And so, then the third category, these adaptive perfectionists, or what I’m calling strivers in this episode, I just made that up, sets high standards for self and others with very little self-criticism, and does not respond negatively to mistakes. This type reports, fewer symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression with higher levels of self-esteem and hope has a high level of pro-social abilities, fewer disruptive behaviors, and a high internal locus of control.
So, as Phillip talked through this forum and shared these findings and a lot of different research, I’m kind of scratching the surface of what his talk went through. The main point that jumped out at me was that to battle perfectionism, the negative perfectionistic tendencies that we tend to think of as harmful the product doesn’t necessarily mean lower the bar because these adaptive perfectionist or strivers set a high bar. So, we don’t necessarily need to lower the bar.
What we need to do is battle the critical self-talk that happens after mistakes are made, we need to battle the self-talk and the downplay of the necessity for mistakes and failures as a part of the process. It seems like that could be easier than just telling perfectionist to not try so hard or to not expect things to be as good as they think they should be.
The Focus for Adaptive Behavior is the Critical Self-Talk
It seems like focusing on this one element that seems to differentiate these groups. Well, at least the, the two types of perfectionist groups that do have positive striving tendencies that they are looking towards doing things well and learning and have goals and hope. If we can allow the striving to be what it is, and simply focus on the negative self-talk and the criticism that comes with the unhealthy perfectionist tendencies, it’s possible that those unhealthy perfectionists can flip and become adaptive perfectionist or strivers by practicing this changing of the negative self-talk and criticism into acceptance.
Probably first into neutrality and then into acceptance and even eventually possibly celebration of the lessons that are learned through failures. Or through not achieving your goal the first time we’re not doing as well as you hoped to.
Ideas to Battle Self-Criticism
So, for the rest of this episode, I want to share some ideas of how we can do this, both for ourselves and for our children or friends. I mean, I don’t know how many of your friends want you to stage an intervention. For them, but at least for ourselves and for our families, if you identify having listened to this, you know, these kind of three types, can you self-identify do you tend to be more of a non-perfectionist where you really don’t have super a high expectation and so, it’s okay when things just kind of go, however they go.
Do you recognize that you have this problematic perfectionist tendency that you really have high expectations for yourself and others, and then you feel deeply when it doesn’t go well, you feel bad about it? You talk to yourself critically or even to others critically?
Or do you recognize yourself as a striver, this adaptive perfectionist, where you have high expectations and are okay with the process of learning and growing through mistakes and failure?
The research shows that if we can edit ourselves toward that last group, if we can have our striving remain intact and have a high adaptability to whatever outcomes happen. that we tend to have a higher internal locus of control, lower levels of depression and higher levels of hope, which are all great things.
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
You’ve probably all heard of the terms, fixed mindset and growth mindset that were, those terms were coined and have been deeply researched and studied by Carol S. Dweck. She is a professor of psychology at Stanford University.
The basic idea is that fixed mindset is the belief that you have all the intelligence, skill, and talent fixed inside you. That what you have is what you get and that you can’t past a certain point. You reach your ceiling and then past that point, you aren’t going to get any better at anything.
Growth mindset is the idea that we can continue to learn and grow and change and adapt throughout our lives. It’s something important to understand because the benefits of growth mindset are incalculable, the ability to improve and to process. And to know that we can understand things that we don’t understand now that we’re not set at a certain point and can’t get better beyond that.
It’s really one of the keys to turning an unhealthy perfectionist into a striver because fixed mindset is really associated with that criticism and negative self-talk and the inability to see failures or mistakes as launchpads were with growth mindset. Any hardship can be viewed through the lens of this is where I am now, but it isn’t where I must stay. I know this now, and there’s more for me to learn and more progress to be made.
I picked up a really great book right after the forum where I listened to Philip talk about the different types of perfectionists. I picked up a book called Growth Mindset Workbook for Kids. It was written by a longtime educator and it’s a physical workbook, it’s paper.
I am going through chapter by chapter with my family as part of kind of a weekly family meeting. We’re all learning together about growth mindset. This is one of the ways that I decided I’m going to work on growth mindset very clearly and intentionally. By overcoming some of the perfectionist self-talk that I have happening with some of my kids in the home.
I’ll link the growth mindset workbook for kids in the show notes. It’s a great workbook and I’m excited to use it as kind of like a home curriculum to work on some of these things.
The Brain is a Muscle
I want to share a couple pieces from that book. The one in the very beginning of the book, I love that it talks about how the brain is a muscle. The brain is a muscle that can be trained and grow. Just like doing bicep curls with a dumbbell is going to help to expand those arm muscles, doing exercises about growth mindset and about really learning about any subject will help our brain to grow and develop.
We can improve the amount of intelligence and understanding and ability that we have is not fixed. When we begin to understand that it really changes the outlook that we have on how we spend our time and how our process and outcomes can change as we change. One interesting thing about the brain is that it learns more through mistakes than it does through doing something correctly.
Learning Through Mistakes
The first time, when we make a mistake, the brain must recalculate and start to examine what happened and look at the different pieces and the synopses and all it all changes like the, the pathways that are happening. Go into curiosity and all start to change and build. There’s a lot more work happening in the brain when we make a mistake because our brain wants to change.
It wants to learn and grow. It wants to develop when we simply do things correctly, the first time none of that process happens. So, it just, we skip onto the next step. It’s really kind of an enlightening. Acknowledgement to make those mistakes physically change our brains more than doing things correctly.
Not that we want to always go out there making mistakes, but that embracing mistakes as part of the process, even into adulthood is important. Think of childhood. Think of those first couple years where you make a mistake every time you turn around, simply because you haven’t learned anything yet.
You’re learning everything, how to eat, how to hold a spoon, how to crawl, how to walk, how to avoid, you know, falling off things. All the basics.
There’s so much expansion that happens when we’re kids. And we all also, I think offer so much grace to kids where we say, oh, you’re just learning that. You’re, you don’t know how to do that yet. Let me help you, you know, tie your shoes or a kickoff on a swing, so you can swing by yourself.
Growth and Progress doesn’t Stop
When do we think that that is supposed to stop? I know that as an adult, I am continually experiencing things for the first time. That I haven’t ever experienced before. As a mom, I’m faced with opportunities to learn brand new skills that I have never had to know before, because my kids are new ages than they’ve ever been before they, as they’re growing my whole experience of what it looks like to be a mom is changing.
The same happens in my business. Every time I want to try something different. I’m learning things all over again, rather than expecting myself to know how to do it all because I turned 18 or 21 or 25 or 30 or whatever it is. If we allow ourselves to kind of erase that finish line that we think we should have crossed by.
And know that this ongoing process of growth and learning will happen throughout our entire lives. It gives us a lot more peace, like the relief that I feel of knowing that it’s okay for me to be a beginner at something new or something that I just haven’t practiced a lot is okay. That feels good.
And not only that, but doing things that I don’t know how to do well and making mistakes at them is how I get to the point where I know how to do them well. The mistakes are the steppingstones to skill and understanding.
Four Steps to Reinforce Growth Mindset
Here are four simple steps from this book, the growth mindset workbook for kids that can help you train your brain for. And these are simplistic, you know, meaningfully. So, because they’re meant for kids. And, as I was just talking about, we all are learning these things all the time.
So, if you don’t do these things yet, getting started in a simple practice of some of these can help you overcome some of that negative. Self-talk some of the, the belief, those perfectionistic unhealthy perfectionistic beliefs that. Tell you that you’re supposed to know already, or you’re supposed to do it right every time.
Four Steps To Train Your Brain
Give your Brain Compliments
The first one is to give your brain compliments. So, imagine your brain. This muscle is separate from yourself. Give your brain compliments. You’re doing a really good job. Thank you for learning that new thing. Thank you for going to work for me today. Give your brain compliments as it is learning new things.
And the process of learning is more fun. You can think about this for your kids too, you know, thank you brain for helping me learn how to tie my shoe or brain. You’re doing such a good job. I know that it’s hard to learn a new thing like riding a bike, or like doing subtraction. You’re doing a really good job. Thank you for help.
The next one is to forgive yourself for mistakes that you make. The easiest way that I’ve heard to do this is to, again, separate yourself from yourself. Allow yourself to see your behavior, your mistake as if a good friend had made it. I often think of the way that we comfort our friends when mistakes are made.
Oh, man, that sucks. I’m so sorry that happened. And you’re going to get it next time or we’re, you know, let me help you work on it. Very seldom do you tell a good friend? I mean, if ever it probably wouldn’t be a good friend for very long. If you have a good friend who makes a mistake and you say, I can’t believe what a terrible person you are! I can’t believe you didn’t know how to do that. What a dunce.
We don’t talk to our good friends like that. Why do we talk to ourselves like that? Allow yourself to be your own good friend and forgive yourself for mistakes that you made. Remember this key tip of growth mindset: you will learn more through mistakes than through correct answers, you can give yourself a big high five every time you make a mistake and think, Hey, there’s a lot going on in my brain. Now that what wouldn’t have happened if I did it right the first-time.
I feel like this one is universal through every piece of successful psychology that’s out there. Number three is to practice gratitude. Practice gratitude through specific techniques. Saying thank you to people, writing down things that you’re grateful for and why, telling your brain thank you, like we talked about in number one.
Practice gratitude for where you are now and for where you’ve come from. Think about something that you didn’t know how to do 10 years ago, that you are adept at now. You’re learning, you’re growing, you’re doing a great job.
Be Your Own Cheerleader
You’ve got this. Keep going. Rah, rah! Allow yourself to encourage yourself along the process. And the same things apply to our kids. I’ve heard a lot of times, and I’m still working on it to celebrate the process rather than the outcome.
With your kids specifically, it’s easy to do this around grades and schoolwork.When someone comes home with A’s or with 100% on their test, it’s easy to say, oh my gosh, high five. Good, good job. You got an A, you got 100%.
What do we do when they bring home a 75% that they worked hard for? Or if they, you know, bring home a mixture of A’s B’s and C’s to celebrate the process? You’re working hard. You’re doing a good job. Isn’t it challenging to learn new things? I’m so proud of you in this process.
I’ve started telling my kids, you’re doing such a good job at working hard. Thank you for working hard at school. Thank you for trying hard. Thank you for focusing. I’ve also tried this kind of flip that I heard somewhere to tell them you should be so proud of yourself rather than saying I’m so proud of you all the time, allowing them to feel some of that pride in their own process.
You should be proud of yourself. Or are you proud of yourself for the hard work that you’re doing recently?
Plum brought home a notebook of graded work. She immediately showed me the hundreds, the hundred percent. And there were a couple of things in there that were like in the eighties. And she said, I want you to tape these ones up.
And she had the 100%. I want you to take these hundreds up. And I said, Hey, let’s look at these. You tell me which ones you worked the hardest at which ones of these homework assignments were the most challenging that you, that you worked hard, and you did such a good job. You did a great job on all of them, which ones were the most challenging, which ones are you the proudest of?
And she pulled out one of the hundreds and she also pulled out one of the 80% said these were the most challenging. And I said, let’s put those ones up. The ones that represent the challenge and the learning and the growth, rather than just always celebrating the outcome, let’s celebrate the process and be a cheerleader of the experience itself.
The Power of “Not Yet”
The final comment that I want to make about the difference between perfectionism and striving is the power of yet that simple word that opens the door to future possibilities. In her Ted talk, Carol Dweck talks about a high school in Chicago, where the students had to pass a certain number of courses to graduate. If they didn’t pass a course, they got the grade “Not yet.”
She says, I thought that was fantastic because if you get a failing grade, you think I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. I’m never going to graduate, but if you get the grade, not yet you understand that you’re on a learning curve and it gives you a path into the future.
So, in summary, there are three groups when it comes to perfectionism: one, not interested in growing or, or doing a lot of stretching progress. Also, not very worried about it.
Number two, adaptive perfectionist that are strivers, that they will set the bar high and then also be okay when they’re still working at it time after time.
And then third, the unhealthy perfectionist that set the bar high and are devastated when they don’t reach it.
This critical difference between a perfectionist and a striver is the reaction to the outcome that negative self-talk and criticism that happens when the expectation doesn’t meet the outcome. And this is a place where we can work with a growth mindset and practicing this, practicing these four simple solutions, giving your brain compliments, forgiving yourself for making mistakes, practicing gratitude, and becoming your own cheerleader.
We can move from being unhealthy, perfectionists into strivers, where we keep the bar high. We don’t try to bring everything down. We keep that bar high. And we also recognize that when we don’t meet it, it’s not because we aren’t going to it’s because we aren’t there yet.
We can recognize I didn’t get it this time. There’s time for me to learn there’s time for me to grow. It’s okay if it didn’t happen now because I’m on a long pathway. My growth and development and building of skills and confidence will continue throughout my entire life. What a hopeful prospect, how incredible to take back that power and know that we can do the things we want to do.
We Don’t Have to be in a Hurry
We can learn and we can grow and that we don’t have to do it right now. You don’t have to do it all right. All the time that we can continue to develop, celebrate the process, and find more. Enjoy along the way.
Thank you so much for tuning in today. I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode and that you learn something new. I was blown away by the simplicity of that differentiation between striving and unhealthy perfectionism. And now I feel like I have something specific to work on with my kids to build our growth mindset.
We can learn how to be okay making mistakes, recognize the virtue in mistakes, know that we don’t have to do it all right, right now. We can learn and grow and celebrate that process.
If you’re new to the podcast, I hope that you’ll stick around for a while and subscribe. So, you don’t miss an episode.
Of course, I always super appreciate the written reviews that you leave on iTunes as well. I want to share one that I got recently, and I really loved that lesamc wrote: “This is such a great podcast and has been one of my few go-tos over the past few years, Miranda inspires me to take time to think about my choices and live with intention. I love how relatable and actionable every episode is. Every time I listened to an episode, I feel like I’ve just finished talking with a friend. Thank you for sharing your gifts with the world.”
Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a written review, lesamc. If you’re listening now, send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to send you a little thank you for writing that review and sharing it with the world.
If you don’t know how to leave a written review, it’s simple. Let me walk you through it. Go to the podcast app, the Apple podcast app on your iPhone. If you don’t have an iPhone, then you’ll have to go to Live Free Creative Podcast on the browser.
And then there’s these little dots you just scroll down to the bottom. Once you find Live Free Creative Podcast, scroll down to the bottom to those three dots, click them, say, leave a review. You can click your five stars and go ahead and write in your comments. It’s been a while since I picked some to read.
So, I’m going to get back into that habit, send some thank you packages out. I really appreciate you being here, even just showing up and listening, letting the show, infuse your life. Hopefully with a little bit of optimism, a little bit of learning and goodness is the best gift ever. Have a wonderful week. I’ll talk to you again.