114: Recovering from Perfectionism (Sort Of)

Are you a perfectionist? Is perfectionism a way of life for you? Do you struggle with taking way too much time to do things because the result has to be perfect? Is this a bad habit, or a positive attribute to your personality? Do you find that perfectionism adds value to your life? Or do you find being a perfectionist to be a drain on your resources? Do you have a hard time being satisfied with the tasks you do? Does having something turn out less than perfect mean something about you, personally? Is it really that you “just like doing things well” or do you actually not like yourself and it’s through trying to be perfect that you attempt to gain value? Do you hold those around you to your perfectionist standards? Listen in as we talk perfectionism and take the quiz with us to see if you qualify as a perfectionist. Join the conversation by leaving a message, emailing us at RecoverySortOf@gmail.com,  or find us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, or find us on our website at www.recoverysortof.com.

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recovery sort of is a podcast where we discuss recovery topics from the perspective of people living in long-term recovery this podcast does not intend to represent the views of any particular group organization or fellowship the attitudes expressed are solely the opinion of its contributors be advised there may be strong language or topics of an adult nature

welcome back it’s recovery sort of i’m jason a guy who has struggled with perfectionism in my life and i’m billy i’m a person in long-term recovery and i’m jenny and i’m a person in long-term sobriety and we’re going to talk about perfectionism because i think a couple of us maybe all of us might struggle with that um we do i know i do if you’re if you’re gonna be perfect you’re gonna have to be closer to them okay

so perfectionism perfectionism is often defined as the need to be or appear to be perfect or even to believe that it’s possible to achieve perfection it is typically viewed as a positive trait rather than a flaw people may use the term healthy perfectionism to describe or justify perfectionistic behavior so that’s interesting i i think uh if you talk to the loved ones in my life they would probably stay this they would probably say this still exists but it’s definitely better um but this idea that like i don’t know how to be wrong very well like i will drop the piece of toast i’m buttering and quickly look around for who caused the distraction that made me drop it because it couldn’t have just been that i fumbled the toast right like i i saw that in my sixth step when i did it just this idea that like i look to blame others when things go wrong or there’s got to be a reason something went wrong because left to my own devices it would just all be perfect in my world and i was just talking about that with my wife recently i have heard that’s a human characteristic like we do that all the time like people just they want to make sense out of it’s your brain that’s your like whatever they call primal brain monkey brain whatever that wants to just make sense out of situations so we’ll see bizarre things and then we just make up a story that fits so that it can make sense instead of just being like [ _ ] i dropped the toast i need to make up some story instantly i know it’s because the butter is slippery so i i’ll defend you well and and to your point of making up the story like we do make stories and meanings out of our world that’s really the entire thing the brain does is makes up a reason why it happened to to fit into our life beliefs i think the problem comes in when you have a very negative sense of self the need to make that story not prove that your sense of self is true right so if i already hate myself and it’s like [ _ ] if i drop the butter the toast that i was buttering that is going to mean that i really am worthless i’m [ _ ] ready now right now i really need the desire to blame someone else like that’s way stronger whereas if i have a pretty healthy sense of self it’s like okay drop the toast not a big deal so yeah maybe the perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing or an unnatural thing but maybe kind of like we talk about the traits we have as people who struggled with substance use they’re not really bad character flaws they’re just traits that are blown out of proportion and maybe this is another one like the perfectionism is the fact that we blow it out of proportion that we can’t be wrong because that’s like critical of our of our self oh yeah i think that’s definitely part of my story like i think the perfectionism like fed into that shame machine going on in my head it’s like i was always missing the mark and therefore you know feeling worse and worse about myself and i know that that fueled the drinking and addiction for me but then when you talked about you know you brought up is there a healthy perfectionism when i got into recovery i was a a and i was trying to do the 12 steps perfectly and that kind of helped me i think to a point because i like i wanted to you know get the sponsor do the steps do all the work you know service all that stuff and it really kind of drug me along and then i think i got to a point where it was like i’m just people pleasing you know well there is a difference and this is where people would describe it as healthy or unhealthy like for for myself it’s good to be like driven to do your best and to strive to to put out like good quality work and things like that where i think it’s perfectionism from stuff that i read was when it crosses into like a negative world when it starts to have when that drive or that motivation to be perfect pushes you into unhealthy places in your relationships or in your dealings with others like that’s when it becomes a negative i think it can easily become a negative two when failing to miss the mark chips away at your self-worth too yeah yeah yeah it’s almost like it’s the reliance on the outcome right like perfectionistic tendencies in how you approach doing work or doing a project or something they’re not necessarily bad but when this outcome has such a heavy weight of what it’s going to mean about your personal existence or being well now that’s a huge thing like i can do the best i can like the whole the old i can plan this really well laid out thought out picnic but then it rains right but like if it rains oh my god that’s gonna mean that i’m worthless is a huge thing so now i’m like buying a tent and a canopy and creating a dome and inventing a weather system that manipulates the air like you know what i mean like there’s this extra above and beyond whereas i think the healthy person who has a nice relationship with himself is like well i planned the picnic and it rained we’ll do it next saturday yeah and i guess what i had read that made a lot of sense to me was that as a perfectionist person i will base my self-worth in a situation on outcomes not on my efforts so like if i’m in sports and i try my best but i still strike out you know in baseball then i still suck it doesn’t matter that i tried my best and i was like i suck because i struck out you know and it’s it’s that and so like with the picnic thing it’s like i can plan and all this but then if it rains and the picnic gets ruined then i still suck i should have watched the weather yeah i knew this was the wrong saturday to plan a picnic for yeah and see the planning and all that’s great like that’s a good quality to have like yeah i planned and oh i brought a tent just in case you know like smart that’s smart right it’s very like tunnel vision it doesn’t look at the outside circumstances it’s just very like focused on one particular outcome not nothing aside it’s like all or nothing it’s like yeah that’s what perfectionism is it’s definitely the all or nothing thinking like a perfectionist strives for 100 on a test but doesn’t get a 96 and think i did a good job they think oh i fell short whereas the person who strives for 100 and gets a 96 is generally like that’s awesome i got a 96. that’s great a plus work and i there are parts of our society definitely in a lot of careers or places where we are rewarded for that sort of behavior or mentality i mean i think back to the uh i don’t know if you watch sports stuff you might have watched the michael jordan 30 for 30. uh what was it called i can’t remember the michael jordan one um anyway they did a whole series on michael jordan and espn and he’s the best basketball player ever but you could definitely sense like he was a perfectionist and a overachiever when it came to that [ _ ] like it was never good enough like just winning a championship wasn’t good enough we got to win five and then after five it’s like that none of that matters we gotta win another one like just that drive made him great and people loved it yeah we celebrated yeah we celebrated was he happy on the inside i think i mean so as a sometimes shallow person the show doesn’t go into necessarily a lot of his intimate relationships but when you make billions of dollars it’s easy to think well how are you not [ _ ] happy right when you have all that money and the world loves you how are you not happy but i know that’s not real but that’s that’s the way it looks on a tv show you know this mentions that you know and it refers to these other people that aren’t perfectionists as high achievers um i don’t know that that’s a really great distinction but it says that healthier people but generally are kind of pulled toward their toward their goals for a desire to achieve whereas perfectionists are pushed away from this fear of not achieving towards so i i don’t know how much i buy into that but i think it’s an interesting concept that like there’s a different motivation but behind people who put in the effort in hopes to achieve versus people who fear not achieving because of what that not achieving will mean about them yeah and i i did sort of come across some people discussing that there are different little nuancy differences there there’s a difference of being someone who’s afraid to fail and then there’s the people who are afraid of not being perfect and those are little nuances but they’re differences of what that might look like in someone’s life i know in parenting like with my seven-year-old i’m trying to encourage her like to think like when she misses the mark it’s like well you just made a mistake learn from it and try again not like oh you’re a failure i’m trying to help her with her internal dialogue there interestingly this says procrastination because it seems paradoxical that perfect perfectionist would procrastinate but i i can feel that because there would be this idea of like i’m not going to do it perfect so i don’t want to start right i don’t have i’m going to try my best yeah i’d rather just not try and then tell myself i could do it perfect if i tried because that’s i feel like that was my high school career i still do that all the time that’s absolutely yeah now that’s absolutely my deal like yeah i procrastinate for perfectionism reasons all the time like you know like i’ve been invited to write stuff but i won’t start because i’m like i can’t i can’t do it right you know i can’t do it perfectly and money like when it comes to like doing household finances i procrastinate the [ _ ] out of that because it’s not like the perfect book like accounting layout you know and i’ll just put it off and just wing it and i could be like saving money and stuff but yeah or the effort to do it right like it takes so much effort rather than like i’m just gonna go paint this room like no i need like an entire weekend to like clean the room out and sand and spackle all the spots so i’m like i’m never gonna have a whole weekend so i’m just not even gonna start i’m gonna drip some of this on a rug

so you don’t even try because you make excuses eventually i’ll get a whole weekend that i can dedicate to this and then i’ll start on it it talks about defensiveness and says that uh you know less than perfect performance could be so painful and scary that perfectionists don’t take constructive criticism well at all they’re very defensive towards any criticism that they might be doing something not in the most ideal way whereas other people might be able to take constructive criticism and improve for the next time perfectionists might either argue or or hate the person or just stop doing that behavior like oh i didn’t play that song perfect i’ll never play guitar again it’s useless guilty and i am my own worst critic most of the time so i’m critical of other people i’m highly critical of you know my kids or people at work or any of that stuff but i am my own worst critic you know like i constantly nothing’s ever good enough in my own head you know i’m harder on myself than i am on most people am i my own worst critic or is it just that no one else thinks about me as often as i do because they might criticize me just as much as i do if they did

well i mean in in just things that i put effort into or that i do like i’m i’m not happy with most of my efforts of things i’m constantly just looking at my outputs and not you know being okay with what i’m doing interestingly brene brown has this like self-assessment quiz that talks about personality traits and moving away from kind of being like this inner critical person to this like healthier version of you and the opposite of uh i want to say creativity on her list was perfectionism because when we have this idea of being perfect there doesn’t leave any space for like playfulness or art or creating anything and i found that fascinating for me because i am a person a that has often identified as a perfectionist but also b has always just said i suck at art i don’t like doing art i’m not good at that anytime like you go to a lot of these therapy trainings or retreats or anything and they’re like oh we’re gonna do a vision board and i’m like [ _ ] yeah mine’s gonna look stupid compared to everybody else’s i don’t have vision yeah i’m very similar i don’t like art stuff and i tend to be more geared towards like math because math has an absolute answer like there is a right that i know is right you know it’s not subjective what i’m finding is just this this ability or this time frame with that information to be able to tell myself like hey this is okay like let’s just be playful and see what happens it doesn’t have to meet anybody else’s standards or you know it doesn’t have to be compared to anything like it’s not about comparison it’s just about creativity and i just i don’t know i found that fascinating this idea that like comparison is the opposite of creativity and perfectionism and how it alters like i can i can do art i can be creative it doesn’t mean i can’t i’m allowed to it doesn’t have to be anybody else’s pretty or or beautiful this might be a brene brown thing but the expression normalized failure it sounds like something she would say but yeah like normalize failure like it’s okay to [ _ ] up you’re just playing around like you said just being playful there’s a book i came across recently and i didn’t get a chance to listen to it but it was fascinating and it was uh part of what the guy was suggesting was that you go out and find your failure limit on different things like he would say like you pick something that you want to do say you like to run or you like to swim or you like to bike and then you say all right well what is like a reasonable like if i was gonna go run could i run five miles yeah i could probably run five miles okay what about 20 miles like i probably couldn’t run 20 miles and then you go run 30 miles because you need to just go and figure out like where your failure spot is because it’s important to know like kind of your to figure out like one what your limits are but two that it’s okay to come up short on things if you just try and put the effort in like that’s healthy healthy struggles right now i give myself 1.2 can probably run 1.2 miles so i have a quiz for you guys you guys want to take a quiz i always want to take a question oh yeah what was that quiz we did where we both laughed because we identified so much uh what was the topic the drama one day no no that wasn’t funny that we identified

there was another one i feel like it was like tied into perfectionism but it was like ego oh you go oh my god i’m anticipating this might be as yeah probably so there is a difference so now in my life though and this may come up after the quiz but the difference with me now than say five or ten years ago and i attribute a lot of this to meditation is that i i still think a lot of the same perfectionist [ _ ] i just don’t it doesn’t overwhelm me as much and i’m i can sort of sit back and like relax a minute and go okay wait a minute it’s [ _ ] good enough just let it go it’s okay you know what i mean you don’t like i recognize what my head is telling me and i don’t have to react on this so i’ve gotten better with it but the thinking is still there so interestingly we just talked about nostalgia on our last episode when you were at the convention and um i almost feel like it ties into that because my perfectionism isn’t only for me right thinking about going out shopping and of course we went out black friday but i was like well if we go later in the day it won’t be that bad or that crowded and what i really wanted was this nostalgic experience of being able to go out on a weekday morning when the mall was empty and just peacefully walk through and so like my perfectionism isn’t just about what it looks like in my life or what i’m doing but it’s also the scene around me i’m like well this mall isn’t [ _ ] perfect it’s too crowded right like so like perfectionism ties into this and i think we kind of mentioned that on nostalgia this idea that like i’m trying to make the present version of my life look like this idealized version of my past that probably didn’t even look like it probably didn’t even look like that it wasn’t that empty of the goddamn mall but you know for me it’s like i was this soul person walking along it was so quiet i heard my footsteps in the hallway and [ _ ] like all these doors were over just for you right right i was walking by people were high fiving me jason come in and look at our stuff that’s [ _ ] nostalgic anyway well i think you know inner world reflects the outer world so like how you talk to yourself is reflective of how you talk to your family members is reflective of how you view them all you know on friday morning perfectionism and parenting like i i have this sanitized version i was like i was the perfect model [ _ ] eight-year-old why are you not no i wasn’t i was probably a shitty whiny little eight-year-old my son just had to go he had some teeth issues he was not very receptive to them fixing it while he was awake so we had to go take him to the hospital yeah and get him you know put to sleep while he got his teeth worked on i had the same [ _ ] when i had to pull a tooth at around his age right and like he came home all out of it and wacky and [ _ ] up from the medicine and and i’m like i i wasn’t like that i was totally fine right after no the [ _ ] i wasn’t there’s no way i was okay yeah right let’s get the real story i don’t trust my voice but yeah i definitely recognized that thought when i had it i was like i was fine afterwards no i doubt it i highly doubt it all right quiz time oh quiz time all right so um as we’re going through this quiz are you going to answer based on how you are now or how you were or maybe okay all right then let’s proceed when you’re finishing a project at work when do you decide to move on here’s three choices i like to get things out of the way as soon as possible and move on i will check it once i finish but i don’t like to spend lots of time adding finishing touches or i’ll go over it again and again until it’s the best project that it can be oh what mood am i in what mood am i in when i finish this project get it out of the way asap yeah that’s i mean that’s hard because i don’t really do projects like that in my work but i don’t say i’m done with anything until it’s perfect like until i’m okay i’ll go over it a lot it’s tricky right so when i was in school writing papers i didn’t give them a second glance because i was like ah i write [ _ ] great it would be perfect the first time i’m not doing a rough draft but then i’m picturing like doing projects around my house and i feel like i went the other way with it i would get halfway into like we we got a dog and then realized there was no door that went into the backyard and so like it rained one day and i had to like literally carry the dog from the door through the back gate to get into the backyard to let it go i was like i am not doing this when the dog has to go the bathroom in the rain so i cut out this window and just [ _ ] took a big chunk out of my wall and put a door in and then just stopped once the door was in like never finished any of the walls like 10 years later the wall was still [ _ ] look like i just hacked it together i was like i’m [ _ ] done but i think it was the fear that i didn’t know how to do the rest of the steps like i was scared enough to put the door in but i needed it but now once it’s in and functional like i don’t want to try to make it look perfect because it won’t that right it won’t it won’t never look [ _ ] doing right well i tr so i read a different sort of quiz i was looking through different stuff and it they had a question in there that was something to the effect of this might help you a little bit jason because it helps me to put that in a different context it was something to the effect of if i have to send a three line email at work you know it’s like i type it and send it or i take 25 minutes to go over it several times before i send it and that’s me like i’ll like even if it’s just a three line something i’m trying to send to somebody i will edit and edit and edit it until it’s perfect until i’m like okay that’s the exact way i want to save it so yes that does help a lot and what i do all day long because i have we have microsoft teams like little messages to each other and [ _ ] and i’m like i’ll type something out i’m like ah this is funny i’m gonna send it leave it in the queue maybe i’m not gonna send that and then i’ll come back like 30 minutes later and i’m like nope just delete that [ _ ] that was stupid right and then i’ll come back an hour later like now i’m going to rewrite this again right yeah oh i’ll leave the drafts in my email and like leave them sit there if it doesn’t have to go out right away i’m like i’ll leave this sit here because i can send it later and just in case i think of something i frequently just don’t talk like i’ll be sitting somewhere in a group of people and i’m like i got something to add to this and i’m like no you don’t don’t say anything just sit here and listen you’re better off that way so yeah yeah okay okay i guess that answers that yeah um next question how often do you find yourself thinking that you’re not good enough all the time now and then never between all the time and now and then yeah i’m all the time i’m not all the time again the difference now is i am better at not like i’m like that’s stupid you know what i mean like stop saying that to yours like that’s just catching yourself yeah that’s kind of invalidating though like it’s there for a reason like it’s if if you talk about internal family systems right and parts theory there’s this part of you that has clung to this idea that it needs to practice perfectionism in order to avoid this terrible negative outcome whatever that part thinks that might be right looking bad feeling stupid you know you might as well kill yourself because you’re just not worth it whatever that could happen at the end of that so it has adapted this survival skill of being a perfectionist and to just like pass it off and say that’s [ _ ] dumb i get it i do the same thing i’m not knocking you for it but like i feel like we don’t acknowledge that that part is feeling this burden and carrying it with it and it’s almost like we want to be thankful like hey thank you i get it you’re trying to do this in service of saving my life i appreciate that but let’s have a talk about why we do this and if we still need to like it might have been really relevant at a point in my life where i needed it now i think i can probably get by not being perfect so let’s have a conversation about that oh see mine’s way more obvious and traumatic so i here’s what i picture when i think of that it’s like i’m whatever baking a cake in the kitchen and i dropped the [ _ ] bowl of batter on the floor and i’m like oh you’re a [ _ ] like what kind of [ _ ] idiot are you like that’s the first thing that i think and where that’s from is because if my mom was standing there that’s exactly what she would say you’re a [ _ ] idiot what are you doing clean that [ _ ] up like that’s how i grew up so that’s where it comes from for me that’s a monologue that came from my parenting yeah so that’s the internal voice that i hear now it’s like what are you doing you [ _ ] idiot like how could you and and the ifs the internal family systems therapy would say that that’s a that’s the monologue it came from mom but a part of you took that on as a burden to make you not have to deal with that my mom doesn’t love me feeling right and so to invalidate it is kind of still doing the same thing and saying you’re worthless just shut the [ _ ] up whereas we need to like thank it like hey i get it you you took this on you’re hurt let’s talk and you know talking to parts of yourself might sound kind of crazy to people outside the therapy world but that’s the theory yeah not too crazy because um somewhere in my recovery journey somebody said you know give your inner critic a personality what does he or she look like what’s she dress what you do so i did this exercise and it was really helpful like you know i had this woman in my head and you know what when i broke it down i was like named juanita no it’s sharon and um that’s my mom’s name oh my mom oh my god holy [ _ ] your mom [ _ ] up jenny too my mom [ _ ] you up too but it was my mom actually when i when i figured out who she looked like it was my mom and my grandmom in the 80s like a hybrid of my mom and grandmother in the 80s i’m like oh my god that’s my inner critic and it was super helpful so to figure that out jaren i know well you know the practice was like when sharon would pipe up i’m like you know what sharon that’s not helpful right now i i gotta do some other work so it was it was a nice you know talking to myself so yeah mine’s a little more like i i cuz i do follow up with like i don’t just say that stupid i’ll say like you made a mistake it’s fine it’s just clean it up and it’s not a big deal like you really need to but i know i need therapy so i broke a plate this week too from uh like thanksgiving i swear i just like popped off the table i was like what we were looking at the christmas decorations uh yesterday and not my kids but some other kid had broken something and i didn’t watch that but i saw the lady come here to clean it up and she was like look with your eyes i was like oh i hope my kids don’t break that is not gonna be good for any of us oh one year my kid broke an ornament and i like snapped i was so tense and i felt so bad i think i have long since made up for it but like you know it was like an old ornament from you know the 80s and it broke and i was like no i was like what am i doing i’m gonna do to my kids exactly what they did to me like i mean look my seven-year-old i call him bouncy man i’m like he does not stand still he is bouncing all over he’ll be having a conversation with you like falling on the couch bouncing off the wall and [ _ ] tripping over his own falling on his face i’m like you’re gonna [ _ ] kill yourself dude like but i was like oh my god he is going to break something you brought him to an ornament [ _ ] yeah they’re all glass i’m like oh man bouncy man is coming to haunt me all right all right next time all right yes so let me check so how often i’m gonna put now and then um okay you post on social media and notice that you’ve made a typo what do you do panic change and delete it before anyone sees it yep

once you say them send them you can’t get them back it’s already got 15 likes i don’t want to delete it and start over [ __ ] just let me edit it i have to correct a misspelling in a text by sending another text with the corrected word i’ve messed up like the version of there and be like oh no i’m not one of them oh no

yeah how good are your organizational skills one impeccable i have lists and spreadsheets for everything two i try to be organized but i usually lose interest after a little while or three i seem chaotic but i know exactly where to find everything so i don’t have good organizational skills as far as physical stuff around me but my solution to that is just not have [ _ ] i’m like i’ll just have nothing that way i can keep it all nice and orderly but yeah my my spreadsheets my lists my calendar holy [ _ ] oh yeah that calendar oh and i’m three i i don’t or i just think i know where everything is yeah i’m very chaotic this is interesting how ego affects perfectionism sometimes i saw that with my papers in school like yeah no it’s [ _ ] perfect i wrote it perfect the first time i could have made a mistake yeah i don’t know how to rank this one for the quiz so the outcome is going to be like a little weird but yeah yeah that’s all right conversation is good just listen tomorrow’s the worst one all right i’m going to put chaotic just because i like the idea of it um are you motivated by praise from others yes very much so or i like praise but it’s not what motivates me or not at all ooh so this is definitely a difference in the past for me big difference like pat’s on the back and on the head you’re a good little boy who’s a good boy i mean i’m still motivated by praise yeah i still want it but i’m not as motivated by it like i’ve noticed that in my job like i want my boss and my my elder co-workers to like me and and think i’m doing a good job but like in the midst of my daily life i’m like i’m going to do what i think is the right thing [ _ ] them so in the we’ve done the love languages test to five love languages i don’t know if you’re familiar with that i’ve heard about it sounds cool yeah you pick your love anyway mine’s words of affirmation so which is praise yeah that’s really awesome billy yeah thank you nice i’m smiling already

uh i’m so motivated by praise i don’t think i am but then when i get it i’m like yeah you’re happy okay

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um do your parents have high expectations yes they always pushed me to work hard or no they were happy for me to find my own path or yes they’ve always been encouraging and supportive number one yeah my my mom was number one okay my dad was number two but he’s quiet and passive so he didn’t my mom definitely wore the pants in the family so i was in third grade and i won first runner-up in the citywide math contest for elementary school students and i walked in the door with this like giant trophy for being second place in elementary school students in baltimore city and the first words out of my dad’s mouth were oh man we’re going to study up and get them next year i never entered another math contest gosh oh man i you know my parents will say they were the no they were happy for me to find my own path but that’s not how their actions reflected you know so they always push me and i have a traumatic like elementary school memory so we went to a catholic school when i was a kid and in the morning you do the pledge of allegiance and then the lord’s prayer every morning and i you know they pick a kid to do it and i was probably second grade what are you six seven years old and i messed up and the nun principal like [ _ ] let me have it afterwards tell me i can never do it again wow because i messed it up so to go deeper into my my math story the reason my father found out what place i was when i came home was because his presence made me too [ _ ] nervous to mess up so i wouldn’t let him go if that tells you anything about what kind of critic he was telling him he wasn’t allowed to go like you can’t come dude you make me too nervous i got to be perfect when you’re here

yeah so yeah they were they were there they were critical all right here’s the last question how do you feel about failure i know that i can’t control everything in life so sometimes i will get things wrong it doesn’t bother me i’m a very resilient person i’m terrified of failure and i hate to make mistakes three hmm what was the second one it doesn’t bother me i’m a very resilient person who’s the first one i know that i can’t control everything in life so sometimes i will get things wrong i feel like these need like five like we need spaces in between okay it’s not the third one but it’s it’s definitely not the second one either well i’m going off gut reaction so there’s the intellectual part of my brain that would tell me the first one you know what i mean yeah and that’s where that meditation has helped me over the years it’s like when i don’t just immediately react to my gut i have that moment where i can be like all right let’s like get a more realistic view of yeah i feel exactly the same way yeah my gut reaction is like yeah number three but then if i give it a second it’s number one all right i know that i can’t control everything i’m picturing i missed a meeting with my supervisor like a few months back and somehow i forgot about it and like it was like i guess there was that initial split second like oh right but then like really really quickly afterwards it was like it happens it’s not that big a deal she’s not even gonna care she’s probably gonna be happy she has a free hour in her day but but i remember texting her and and expressing her like i kind of missed the part of me that hated myself more because i made less mistakes then like i’m allowed to make mistakes now because i know it’s okay and there’s some self-love involved in it and it’s not going to be that big a deal but like when i wasn’t allowed to make mistakes for my own reasons i was way better see and i tend to tell myself that that is a lie that i didn’t make less mistakes i just covered them up yeah or rationalized or justified probably things and made excuses for them well i know this before i went and got some like pretty intensive therapy i was like at the gym at least five days a week if not six like and if i missed if i had to miss because it’s the holidays and they’re closed on christmas or or you know we had family functions and i couldn’t get there that like really [ __ ] my mood up it was like oh my god i’m gonna lose all these gains i got and all this right after i got healing from some of that uh you know three four days a week whatever it’s all good like i just get here and it’s not that big a deal to miss and it’s no big deal to take a day or two off when you need to and and i’m like okay but i looked better than like there was something to that self-hatred like i was getting something out of that there was a reward and i get that i guess what i’ve done to combat that is if you read enough things on the internet you can find like if you find articles about lifting weights over 40 so i’m over 40 then they’ll tell you like oh that’s really healthy to miss a day every now and again or to take it easy certain times i’m like yeah i’m doing it perfect

i knew i was doing it right without knowing it was right well that was the last question on the quiz um we failed

i think yeah it just says oh god you guys are really [ _ ] up that’s what it says you should just say you’re perfect you definitely got it right uh it says you’re a complete perfectionist and you like to spend ages working on your project until it’s the best it possibly can be you love to receive praise for your organizational skills and attention to detail although these are great qualities try to relax a little bit sometimes good enough is okay and the world won’t end if you make a mistake that was deep that was deep guys it should say these are the best two outcomes we’ve ever had for the perfectionist test better than all other people who have taken this test you guys have really got it figured out yeah and i guess i heard something recently that i is it sticks with me in a lot of areas of my life but specifically in this one and it was a a book i can’t remember the guy’s name but it’s called 10 percent happier it’s about it well he’s got a podcast too oh does he okay well the book’s pretty good and uh anyway he says something in there he’s meeting with a meditation teacher and they’re talking back and forth about you know like obsessing about things or over thinking about things and you know they’re trying to figure out like well what’s a good balance of thinking about things and it’s kind of like it’s good as long as it’s helpful when it’s no longer helpful it’s no longer good to obsess about things and that’s where i’ve gotten with this perfectionism thing like was it helpful for me to keep thinking about this or does this really need to be perfect like is that a benefit for me in any way and that’s helped me kind of let go like no in this situation this is fine the way it is like having it a little bit better isn’t going to make any difference yeah i have heard about um finding power in your imperfection like it’s not that you it’s you made a mistake it’s not that you are a mistake and what can you do to make it better so like doing like the silver lining tidbit with your imperfection like all right well there’s a clue to make it better yeah there’s some kind of japanese art about that isn’t it like this oh yeah it’s the imperfection in the thing that makes it the art right like so they they repair cracked bowls with gold yes it’s the imperfection that makes it so yeah you highlight the imperfection because it’s you know again in our i guess society being perfect is the thing everyone aspires to with advertising and modeling and how you look and what you wear and you got to be a certain way and i guess in a lot of other cultures that’s not necessarily the case well yeah in buddhist recovery we have uh in recovery darwin we have the saying impersonal impermanent and imperfect and that’s those are like the three rules so i did find a thing that was some of the symptoms that you’re a perfectionist and i was like oh i could probably identify with all of these uh hyperventilation which i used to get that and i didn’t know what it was i used to think i had asthma because i didn’t and it was like an onset panic attack is what it was like i would get to this point where i could and i went and had you know tests done and they’re like now you’re you know medically you’re okay but you they never described it as any sort of panic attack because i never i’m sure told them how i felt i just described what symptoms i was having so it would prescribe me like inhalers and [ _ ] i didn’t know what it was i just thought oh i must have some kind of [ _ ] and that’s from perfectionism yeah that’s so funny because i i suppose it gets overwhelming oh yeah i was diagnosed with asthma as a kid too and i had an inhaler and then one day i just didn’t need it anymore i wonder we’ll never know so muscle tension headaches and stomach pain so those are all signs of perfectionism so and i did find there’s a word that they call like perfectionism to its extremes i guess it’s called a telephobia i’m probably not saying that perfect so but that was like the extreme version of uh perfectionism where it becomes like a phobia like you’re so overwhelmed with failing at something or not being perfect at something so you just don’t do anything uh that can happen or you just break down when you do make mistakes that’s the other part is that like people who get and i feel like fears get conditioned and power from when we don’t like when we live by the fear so like people who get nervous about going out of their house and start having fears about leaving their house like they every time they don’t leave their house they strengthen that fear and that conviction that going out will be bad and i feel like that would be the same way like oh well i can’t do these things because they won’t be perfect i remember wanting to go to an amusement park that i had never been to i was like god 25 years old or something and i was like oh we should go to this amusement park that i’ve never been to and i was like i can’t do that i won’t know where to buy tickets or i might not know where to park and it’s going to be overwhelming to think of like trying to find the right place to park and what if i park in the wrong place and what if i don’t know the way to walk to where the ticket booth is and like at the time that seemed so valid right and like so much of a thing that i was just i can’t do this thing i’ve never done because i’ll look stupid for not knowing how to do it and looking back now it’s like well how the [ _ ] would you ever do anything you didn’t grow up with like it’d be impossible to do anything and i’d never go anywhere and i’d never leave the country and and i didn’t like i just stayed in this little you know four block radius in my neighborhood and see that same thing hits me in a slightly different way so if we would go somewhere when we go somewhere and then we park and then we go in and then we come out i’m like oh the [ _ ] didn’t we park over there look at those people are way closer and then the whole ride home like if we ever [ _ ] come back here again i’m [ _ ] parking over there because that was the right place to park i obviously parked in the wrong place and it’ll be the same with getting tickets you know what i mean how did i not know i should have bought the tickets online and i could have bypassed this whole [ _ ] line and it was a discount like i did it wrong and like i will like i can’t let that [ _ ] go i beat myself up over doing that stuff i still think about this online argument i had in a website’s comment section with a guy about whether protein shakes were good for you or not proven science for after working out and like i have had a good comeback for him for about 23 years waiting for the occasion and i was like god damn it why didn’t i think of this like in that moment i could have said it and proved him wrong and i’d have been right and you know panties would have rained from the sky on my head like yes i got it right i’m a champion somebody would have like broke through the wall and put me on their shoulders and ran me around the neighborhood or something i don’t know what the [ _ ] i thought would happen i definitely i will re-live conversations or situations like that in my head and like later in the day be like ah why didn’t i say this like that would have been the perfect comeback for that situation right yes that would have been the best dancer i’ll have similar like similar to you billy like i have this like awesome excellent day trip with my daughter but then what is the one memory that haunts me you know for the rest of my days was when i i [ _ ] up our lunch order or something now the whole like the other 12 hours of the day were like magnificent but i’ll just i’ll burn with rage and embarrassment about the dumb lunch order who cares you know so if i remember in this exact situation in this exact year and again i will not make this i’ve had to have like serious conversations with myself like let that [ _ ] go you had an awesome day jenny you’re gonna ruin it you’re gonna ruin it so that’s interesting in that sense it almost seems like perfectionism is the anti-nostalgia right so like with this nostalgia idea it was i had this full past year of drug use that i’m looking back on 364 days of that were [ _ ] but i remember that one glorious morning where the sun was out and it was nice temperature and i copped because i had money and i was comfortable all day whereas perfectionism seemed to be the opposite when you described it right like i had this great beautiful day but i’m clung to this moment of like when it didn’t go well or when i didn’t perform the expectation huh i know when when i was preparing for these two topics i was i did kind of interrelate them and thought about how they related yeah yeah that’s weird so how does that work when we have so i have nostalgia about the past because i think life was more tolerable or less miserable than do i need that nostalgia to keep surviving because my perfectionism in the present says that i only do things bad so it i don’t have nostalgia like at all not no not really i don’t know what that wait a minute you were just at a convention and you were like having fun with friends and like reconnecting and isn’t that a little bit of nostalgia like oh remember we all got sober together you know no i didn’t this is none of those people this wasn’t you ever look back you know we won’t even go too far in the past like the good old days of like oh man remember getting sober 21 years ago with so and so i mean i have fond memories of stuff that are old memories like the warm fuzzies but are they are they sanitized versions of the truth that’s what i’m running through my head like are these i mean i’m sure to some degree because i know my memories failed and we tend to remember things in our own weird way different than reality i guess it’s good he wasn’t here for nostalgia yeah well i mean i understand i mean we were just talking about growing up in the city like because we drove through the city to come back and i was like i remember growing up in the city i was like that’s been 20 some years ago i was like i don’t know if it was good or bad it just that was an experience that i had like i mean there was some good stuff about it there was some bad things about it it was part of growing up in the city i don’t know that’s interesting weird and then that same with me like i think the meetings things were different when i first got clean but i don’t know if they were better i mean i definitely think they were better that might be my nostalgia so what we came up with a little bit at least i think my nostalgia stems from the fact of being unhappy in the present right just like that’s when i find myself going for a nostalgia like man i miss those times when i was a teenager and just goofing off and i’ll never get that again it’s like a very depressing nostalgia for me of this past was great and now sucks so maybe maybe you’re always happy now so you don’t need nostalgia i feel like it’s a over awareness of reality makes all your memories sort of like everything’s got a negative so you’re just you’re a past tense pessimist well thinking like all right i’d like to take my kid down to a football game you know down in the city i’m like oh do we really want to deal with all that’s a lot of busy [ _ ] and traffic and parking and [ _ ] it’s expensive is this another concept is this not nostalgia or perfection is this like this idea because i have that same kind of feeling go on when i think about doing things like that feels like a lot of work and it’s not that i won’t do it i’ll probably end up taking my kid to a football game but i’m like but before i do it i’m like i need to weigh out all these this situation to see if this is really but is that i think there’s something to that like that’s almost and i don’t know if it has a name maybe it does maybe it already exists and somebody said it sounds like cynicism cynicism that’s what it sounds like just this idea of like i i always look for well yeah this sounds like it could be a good event but what’s really going to happen is this and then i lay out all these not really catastrophizing but [ _ ] that i don’t want to deal with like parking and traffic and hassles and expensive food just thinking about this football game idea like i always lay it out i can’t ever just think that’s going to be a fun experience with my son it’s like uh there’s going to be all these hassles that i just don’t really want to put myself in position to deal with well i try to i and i guess indirectly this is like what i’ve considered is like a buddhist teaching like there’s a balance to everything so like when i think about a convention like my immediate knee-jerk reaction is i’m gonna [ _ ] hate it it’s gonna be way too many people it’s gonna be way too busy i’m not gonna enjoy myself it’s not gonna be a fun time and then i’ll sit back and go wait a minute there are some benefits to it you can hit some meetings you can hear a good message probably hear some good speakers they usually get good speakers and maybe you’ll see some people that you haven’t seen in a while that could be kind of cool you know and then i’ll sort of find a middle ground with it where is same the other way like oh yeah let’s go to a football game like uh wait a minute there’s a lot that goes into going to a football game you know and so i always wanted like nothing’s ever all the way good or all the way bad and so i want to try to think that through you know we talked about that a little bit on that expectations episode the idea of like how we set ourselves up to be disappointed by having two high expectations but i i am wondering if there’s people that can go into it more for the experience like i feel like my wife could go into going to a football game with one of our kids for the experience of spending time with the kid and none of that other [ _ ] would matter like she wouldn’t care that that drinks were eight dollars she wouldn’t give a [ _ ] that they sat in traffic because they would make it fun like she would just be able to go into it for the experience of spending time with them and even if they were a crappy little [ _ ] that day right even if they were like complaining that they were there and didn’t want to be there like she would find a way to make that a fun memorable experience for her and i’m like i don’t have that [ _ ] ability i can do that with new things like so if it’s a thing i’ve never done before like i’ve been to lots of different shows of different kinds you know comedy shows and magic shows and [ _ ] blue man group and plays and all that stuff and i’ll go into any of that stuff with just this totally open mind of like all right i don’t know what’s going to happen so let’s just see what happens and every experience i come out of like that like half the reason i do the things i do is for the experience like it’s just to have the experience i don’t know if this is the perfectionist in me but i have to plan to let go like so like you know like i’m i’m going to the city on wednesday with my daughter and i’ll plan a little bit but i have to plan to be like well see what happens because i can be a perfectionist and plan out where we’re going to eat what we’re going to see you know like i do that perfect planner thing and then i can get a little heated if it doesn’t go my way so i have to like plan to be like okay well this is just going to be like freestyle for a little while and see that’s why i don’t plan anymore because i do that if i plan [ _ ] out then i’m too s regimented in my plan that i’d have no flexibility so it’s easier to and it drives my wife crazy because she’s like i would say healthy and that she’ll plan some stuff but then if it doesn’t go that way she’s totally flexible and i don’t have that muscle at all it’s like if we plan it this way like this is the [ _ ] way it’s got to go there’s a reason it’s easier to just wing the whole thing which creates its own amount of chaos but i do have to learn to roll with it more but i’m working on it so when you when you say that you can do it with new events is that because with previous events you have like a nostalgic memory of what it’s supposed to be again this time and that’s what causes the friction that it doesn’t live up to this perfect memory that’s not actually what happened yeah or then there’s a perfect way to do it like there’s a best way to have that new experience i’ve been through this experience once so now i should know what’s the best way to deal with this where’s the best place to park where do you want to be what’s the best way to get out and get back home so it’s interesting i i feel like i’m in the same place as you i don’t have that middle ground muscle to flex either right so i’m like either we plan this whole thing out to the [ _ ] dot or so we’re we’re talking about taking a three week like rv across the [ _ ] america this summer how cool and i’m like this seems way too well it seems way too hard to play into the dot so my default is well [ _ ] it we’ll just go and my wife’s like that’s not a good idea i’m like sure it is we’ll just [ _ ] go where are we going to stay i don’t know we’ll figure out something you stay in an rv she’s like well you need to book these places because they’ll be i’m like well just you don’t get the one you want you just keep driving until you find the next one i don’t [ _ ] know like you just do it and i what she tells me i’m like how i’m like how come you can be so good with the flow and then when i’m go with the flow you can’t be and i think that has something to do with the the homeostasis of energies in people personally but anyway i asked her why and she’s like well because you’ll be [ _ ] upset if things don’t go well she’s like we got a plan so you don’t lose your goddamn mind not for me

thing i think there’s a homeostasis though like i think if me and billy went to a project together and we were both perfectionists if his perfectionist tendencies come out first i’m probably gonna [ _ ] default to i don’t need to be like i think there’s this weird balance amongst people in their vibes i go places where [ _ ] is miserable but if somebody else is already miserable i’m like it’s not that bad and i’m like any other day of my life this would be the worst thing i’ve ever done but he’s doing that somebody took that job yeah it’s really weird how dynamics work like that now that you mentioned that i’m like i can see that in situations yeah yeah that’s funny so i i don’t know uh this says perfectionism often verges on self-abuse perfectionists are hugely hard on themselves with a hatred that is breathtaking at times and i would say that is who yeah people are hardly so how to counter that dealing with your inner critic can be hard there’s a number of things you can do to silence the voice there was a study study done in australian catholic university oh that’s great found that self-compassion can help protect the practice of self-kindness consistently reduces the strength of the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression for both adolescents and adults so self-compassion how do you cultivate that there’s actually ways to cultivate that so look online and practice them

you know it can be taught mindful self-combat compassion training and yoga have both been proven to help quell the self-criticizing inner voice um and it may be helpful to simply take a moment and acknowledge the fact that whatever goals you set yourself out to achieve in life it will be difficult and it’s okay to not meet them i don’t know any other thoughts about perfectionism this was a good talk i mean i i think for me i’m not perfect hey um but the the work i did with inner critic work was the the best thing i could do for my perfectionism were you called or sharon yep me when i worked with sharon and then of course meditation mindfulness that’s always that’s always the underlying helper yeah it does come back to recovery work that i’ve done for myself as you mentioned earlier a lot of times i look at my defects as assets that are overblown so like it’s great that i want to do good work and i want to put a lot of effort and quality into things that i do and put my energy into but when it becomes obsessive like that takes it to a place where it’s no longer healthy um and it’s up to me to try to figure out what that balance is you know and i get tools and some traits but the biggest one being when i’m okay with myself i’m typically okay with telling myself like i know i did my best this is this is okay it’s not the end of the world if it’s not perfect like it’s gonna be okay you know that’s sort of a thing i gotta with a lot of different it can be you know a physical thing an emotional thing but that’s a that’s a storyline i gotta tell myself over and over again yeah interestingly if you think of star wars right i always thought of like the jedi were the good guys and and then you had these bad guys right the darth vader and all that but the jedi never really wanted to like wipe out the evil in the world they wanted to bring balance to the force and that’s an interesting concept kind of like it just made me think of it when you were saying that like it’s not really about wiping out this negative part of me or the evil part of me or anything it’s just about being balanced like it’s just about having a fair amount of each it’s not really in a way so yeah the middle path right like i’m not trying to get rid of all the things that i think are negative i’m just trying to be even homeostasis all right so i will not edit this episode perfectly and i hope everybody can be compassionate to themselves about their perfectionistic tendencies have a good week

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