Dec. 8, 2022

How to Quit Perfectionism and People Pleasing Quickly

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In today's solo podcast episode, I am sharing how to increase your natural flow by letting go of your need for perfectionism and any people pleasing tendencies. Listen in as I explain how these interconnected topics have an effect on our relationships with ourselves and others, how these behavior patterns cause complications and more stress and how to eliminate the habits, activities and thought patterns blocking us from our end goal… FREEDOM!

• [3:17] “Freedom is the ultimate goal. We all want to be happy, we all want to be in love, we all want to be successful, etc…”
• [5:48] Christine explains that the pathway to freedom is to eliminate the habits, activities and the thought patterns that might block us from feeling free.
• [9:36] Dr. Li offers a bit of advice: “Be careful with how you perceive things… because if you see it as your responsibility, if you see it as an urgent problem, it will become an urgent problem.”
• [13:56] Christine compares perfectionism and people pleasing: “Like perfectionism, people pleasing is something that never ends until you decide it's got to end.”

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Dr. Christine Li  0:01  
Hi there, welcome back to the Make Time for Success podcast. This is episode number 104. 

Today's solo episode is about the twin topics of perfectionism and people pleasing. And I just had the thought a second ago that they are basically the way that procrastination has an effect in our relationships. Because when we're being perfect, and when we're trying to please everyone, we are just causing delay in our interactions with other people, I think we are reducing our natural flow. We're causing complications, and we're causing ourselves stress, I go into much more detail about these two topics, and my thoughts about them inside this episode. And I think you'll get a lot out of listening to this quick one. And at the end of the recording of this particular episode, I decided to make a worksheet so that you could really remember to do this work for yourself if you're inclined to be perfectionistic. Or to feel like you need to please everyone. The worksheet is available to you if you go to Again, it's and within the first five minutes of the episode, I'll be talking about freedom and you'll know why the worksheet is entitled freedom. Okay, so get that worksheet and let's go listen to that episode now together.

Hi, I'm Dr. Christine Li, and I'm a psychologist and a procrastination coach. I've helped 1000s of people move past procrastination and overwhelm so they can begin working to their potential. In this podcast, you're going to learn a powerful strategies for getting your mind, body and energy to work together. So that you can focus on what's really important, and accomplish the goals you want to achieve. When you start living within your full power, you're going to see how being productive can be easy, and how you can create success on demand. 

Welcome to the Make Time for Success podcast. Hello, there is Dr. Christine Li. And today we're going to have a conversation about two topics, perfectionism and people pleasing. And I just felt that these two topics really kind of go together quite naturally. And to be honest, my clients lately have been asking questions about how to deal with both topics. So I thought, let's bring this material onto the podcast, and share some of these ideas and tips and pieces of knowledge with you. So let's start by me describing one of my thoughts about what the goal of self development is, my thought is that freedom is the ultimate goal. We all want to be happy, we all want to be in love, we all want to be successful, et cetera, et cetera. But I think if we're not feeling free, or we're gonna get upset, we're gonna feel bothered, we're gonna feel trapped, we're gonna feel all sorts of things, including not in love, not happy and pretty stressed if we're not free. So let's say for the sake of this episode, at least, that freedom is our shared ultimate goal. If that is the case, then it makes sense. That perfectionism would be something that we would not want to include in our daily repertoire, in our way of doing things because in my opinion, perfectionism has a way of making us feel very not free. It makes us feel like we're always on the hook for something, we always have to find another way, a more perfect way. And it makes us feel like we're always in some ways at risk for not being perfect. So even if you have a tremendous track record, of being an A student, of being just right, of being dressed, just the right way of saying the perfect things, giving the perfect gifts, the next opportunity to do something and take action is always potentially that event where everything goes wrong, and you fail to be perfect. That's my view of perfection. I feel that in my own life. I've never been perfect because I feel like I'm always screwing things up oftentimes. But in some ways that gets me out of the perfectionism, too. wrap because I know I'm not a perfect person, I try my best these days. But I definitely don't aim for perfection because I feel like it's a time waster and something that makes me feel really stressed about when I attempt it. So I teach my students that freedom is really important. Freedom is really nice to have. And then if we're procrastinating if we're being perfectionistic, it's our job to learn and to figure out how to eliminate anything and everything that is in our way that is blocking our freedom. And that can be a lot of things, of course, but that's the goal. We don't have to be perfect about the goal, but that's the goal. So freedom is the end goal. And the pathway to freedom is to just one by one, eliminate the habits and the activities and the thought patterns that might block us from feeling free. To do that, I think we have to understand that we as individuals, create both the blocks and the freedom. I will explain. If you see people, other people as being the cause of your stress of being a roadblock for you have asking you for so much. I think that's the wrong way of looking at it. They're just being other people, they're just being themselves. And what you are doing as a perfectionist or a people pleaser, is turning their natural statement or request and turning that into some sort of demand on you. And I think that's how we have to take responsibility for creating the blocks in our own life. I hope that that makes sense. It's a little complicated. But again, we have control over what we turn into a roadblock by how we perceive what other people ask us to do. And if you figure out how to decide you're taking responsibility for all your actions, but you're not going to take responsibility for everybody else's requests of you all the time, then you figured out how to drop the need to be perfect for everyone. And you can regain a sense of personal freedom, you can feel like wow, not only can I clear my way, over the course of the day, I can clear my calendar, I can straighten up my activities, I can like what I do, I can say yes or no appropriately and as I really feel, then you're gonna get closer and closer to that true feeling of freedom. It's kind of like dream analysis. This was something I put in my draft notes for this episode, I was taught that when we're dreaming, you know, we're dreaming a story of sorts with different characters from our past, maybe ones that we don't even know situations are happening. And for dream analysis, you just want to play with the story and see

parts of the dream Am I being symbolized as so maybe you're the locker in the high school auditorium or the gym, maybe you're the old partner that you had that showed up in the dream. So don't read it as is your ex, boyfriend or girlfriend, you might want to read it as you somehow. So that is just a parallel way of explaining to you that you can be the author of your life story. And you get to decide how you're going to act. So no longer do you have to be perfect for everyone. Because you can say this is good enough, or that person can handle it on their own. Or I could do 50% of the way rather than 100% or 110%. And I hope those examples help you a little bit to see that you can really detach from feeling interconnected and enmeshed with everything and everyone around you. It will really help you to feel more free. Okay, the next point, when you see a problem as a problem, it becomes a problem. So this is my little piece of advice. Be careful with how you perceive things, because if you see things for what they are, then you could decide, oh, it's just that it's just a red hat in the middle of the road. It's just a turkey crossing the road. It's not a problem for you, right? The Red Hat being in the middle of the road is not inherently a problem for You. But if you see it as your responsibility, if you see it as an urgent problem, it will become an urgent problem. So hopefully this little piece of advice can show you that just by tweaking your perspective a little bit, just by calming your nervous system down a little bit, just by taking a few deep breaths, perhaps you can totally alter the situations that you're in, of course, you're probably not in Red Hat in the middle of the road situations. But I think you get the message that you have the ability and the freedom to perceive reality as reality, rather than stories that involve you as the hero as the rescuer, as the victim, as the doer, all those roles that you really don't need to do over and over and over again. My next teaching point is that perfectionism, from my experience, is born out of dissatisfaction. What I mean by that is that the people that I've worked with, who tend to lean heavily into perfectionism, tend to come from backgrounds, where their childhood and their family environment was chaotic, unpredictable, dysfunctional, perhaps very stressful, perhaps overly punitive, maybe a combination of all those things. And for that person, acting perfectly became a good solution. When we're perfect, we get positive attention, maybe things calmed down a bit, we get the benefit of feeling praised and being praised by people around us. And perhaps we get to have a break from a chaotic situation. And, of course, when we figure out, Oh, I could be perfect, and then I can make everyone around me happy. That says to the person, oh, I can make my life a little more predictable, I can make my life a little more joyful. And that, of course, is a nice thing. And that works for a while, until it stops working. And it stops working. Because that strategy of using perfectionism to control our outer environment becomes a problem unto itself. Because like I said earlier on in this episode, once you start the perfectionism train running, it keeps running and keeps running and it keeps running, we can never get off that train, we always have to feel like we need the perfect solution, we have to find the perfect thing, we have to be the perfect person. And that itself becomes the stressor that itself becomes the dissatisfaction and then it's a cycle of dissatisfaction. So, think about your own history, think about your own relationship with getting things done, do you need to feel that everything is perfect before you act, because it's likely that if you're trapped in that trap, you're losing a lot of your time, you're maybe filled with an underlying secret type of stress. And you are really somewhere somehow searching for an easier way. So trust me when I tell you that dropping perfectionism is always a good idea. Freedom is always a better goal than perfection. And I just wish you well, in this process of thinking about making this transition from perfectionism to freedom. Now I'm going to shift to the topic of people pleasing. And in writing my draft for this episode, I thought to myself, people pleasing and perfectionism, they're really like cousins. They're similar, but they're all so different from each other. Like perfectionism, people pleasing is something that never ends until you decide it's got to end. When were people pleasers, even total strangers, people you meet at the local drugstore or supermarket, somehow they automatically need to be assessed for us to see what can we do for them? How can we appear helpful to them? What can I do to not annoy them. And of course, all of this attention on the other person or the other people reduces the energy that we have to pay attention to what we need as the individual. And of course, it reduces the time that we have to actually take care of ourselves. What does this lead to this leads to lots of things lots of not good things like burnout, resentment of the situation and the other people and ourselves. Feeling under appreciated because people pleasers tend to be doers, they tend to be running the picnic, running the PTA, things like that running around. And all of their efforts, maybe they get some thank yous, but really, they're not getting their time back, they're not getting the constant appreciation that they might deserve or they might crave. And so there's this gap where they feel like their efforts feel like a lot, and they're getting little reward. The end result of this is that there might be some fraying of relationships. And there might be times when the person just can't do the work. And so they end up feeling like a failure, too, because we certainly can't please everyone, even if we try. We all know that I think deep down inside, I think we really know that. So what do you do if you yourself happen to be a people pleaser? Maybe even a hardcore people pleaser? My suggestion to you is to change your model of relationships and how human beings are just a little bit. Instead of thinking that everyone needs your help, or everyone needs your intervention, or everyone needs your brain power, somehow, I would like for you to switch your model to one in which you see everyone as being essentially Okay, and able to handle things for themselves. Of course, we're talking about adults, and that everyone around you is going to survive. Without your kind interventions, it's going to be okay. And when you really, really believe that when you really, really trust yourself enough to shift over to this model of the world. I think you're going to see and feel a certain lightness come your way. Because all of the burdens of feeling like you need to be perfect feeling like you might not be perfect. feeling like you have to just take care of everything and everyone around you, all of that is going to lift off your shoulders, it's going to lift off your schedule, it's going to lift off, your mind is going to lift off your heart, and freedom is going to come in its place. You will see also that things will magically seem to start falling into place naturally, even without your help. Things actually go well, sometimes they even go better than when you're micromanaging and managing and manipulating everything and everyone. So your efforts and intentions can of course remain positive. But you don't have to throw your energy away anymore. You don't have to stress out from the moment you wake up to the time that you go to bed. Because you can trust that we're all in this together, that everyone is okay. And that you're going to be even more okay, when you reserve and conserve your energy and take time to focus on yourself. It really is a gift to yourself. And it's a gift I think of growing up and maturing and knowing that we can let go of old patterns and still be safe and still be ourselves and still be well,

we can even be better than Well, what are the results of practicing this bit of experimentation of dropping perfectionism and people pleasing, I will let you know that you will feel more flexible, and you will feel like you're able to focus more. But you may also feel like your anxiety is going up temporarily. Because anytime we try something new, it shakes us up, it shakes things up. And when things are shaken up, we tend to get a little more anxious. But I'm here to tell you, you don't have to then panic. You don't have to fly into a frenzy. You don't have to go back to your old habits, although you might feel inclined to you don't have to go back because after the initial uptick and anxiety, what happens is you end up again feeling much freer seeing everyone doing well. And realizing, Oh wow, I have all this time and space to create new adventures for myself. ones that don't involve burdensome activity or burdensome feelings. And I think that's the great result that you want to see. So that ladies and gentlemen, is my quick summary of how to drop perfectionism and people pleasing. Quickly. I hope you got a lot out of this discussion. Thank you so much for participating in it with me. I am so grateful for your attention and your time because I know it's precious. So conserve it. Enjoy it revel in it. Do these experiments that you need to do to feel healthier and to feel well and let me know what the results are. I can't wait to hear about them. I wish you all the best. I'll see you next Thursday, when the next episode comes by. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of the Make Time for Success podcast. If you enjoyed what you've heard, you can subscribe to make sure you get notified of upcoming episodes. You can also visit our website for past episodes, show notes and all the resources we mentioned on the show. Feel free to connect with me over on Instagram too. You can find me there under the name procrastination coach. Send me a DM and let me know what your thoughts are about the episodes you've been listening to. And let me know any topics that you might like me to talk about on the show. I'd love to hear all about how you're making time for success. I'll talk to you soon!

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