Episode 424: For When You Feel Behind

If you’re anything like me, you love personal development and being productive. The downside of this – when it’s coupled with perfectionism – is that if you don’t feel like you’re growing and you notice yourself getting in your own way then it’s easy to feel behind.

If you’ve been stuck in a rut or feeling like you should know better than to be struggling then today’s episode is for you. I’m sharing practical advice to help you get back on track as well as a few important ideas to help you stop beating yourself up for not being further along.

Find the full episode transcript and show notes at samlaurabrown.com/episode424.

In This Episode You’ll Learn:

  • The concept that helps me get out of an emotional rut quickly
  • What to do when you feel completely inadequate
  • Why it’s common for perfectionists to beat themselves up and practical things to help

Featured In The Episode:

Announcement: PGSD is open for enrollment for one week only

My 12-month group coaching program Perfectionists Getting Shit Done (aka PGSD) will teach you how to plan properly as a perfectionist and get out of your own way. If you struggle to consistently market your business and put yourself out there, PGSD is for you! The doors to PGSD will open on 10 December 2023 for one week only. To find out more about the program and be the first to know when the doors open, join the waitlist today: samlaurabrown.com/pgsd.

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Hi and welcome to another episode of The Perfectionism Project. A podcast full of perfectionism advice for entrepreneurs. My name is Sam Laura Brown, I help entrepreneurs release their perfectionism handbrake, so they can get out of their own way and build a fulfilling and profitable business. I’m the founder of the Perfectionist Getting Shit Done group coaching program, which is otherwise known as PGSD. And for even more perfectionism advice to help you with your business. You can follow me on Instagram @perfectionismproject.

Sam Laura Brown

I’ve just wrapped up a PGSD coaching call and wanted to record a little episode about the theme of the call that came up with that coaching call, I didn’t have a theme in mind, it was going to be a call for open coaching, where anyone who’s on that call live can get coached on whatever is going on for them with their business with their productivity with their perfectionism. And so I love when a theme emerges. And the theme for today’s call really was about letting it be okay, that you feel bad at times that you might feel ashamed or regretful or that you might feel behind even though behind really isn’t a feeling, we often feel inadequate, when we have the thought I’m behind.

But when you feel behind, when you are feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re not feeling confident, you’re feeling maybe insecure, all of those feelings, we can, especially if you’re someone who loves personal development, we can be in this mindset. And maybe you’ve done therapy, maybe you haven’t been doing a lot of work on your mindset. But we can be in this mentality that we should know better than to be feeling those feelings. And we should know better than to be getting it our own way, and pushing tasks of and not doing the things that we said we would do.

And so we just in those situations, we end up with a lot of judgment, on top of the bad feelings that we’re feeling. And I haven’t talked about this for ages on the podcast. And I love that it came up on the coaching call because it just reminded me about the importance of having a perspective around our feelings that allows room for negative feelings, if we want to call them that their feelings, and vibrations and our body that don’t feel so good. We all tend to have I’d say our favorite three to five, maybe it’s overwhelmed. But those feelings that come up and are there that we can have judgment about feeling that way.

And that judgment makes us feel worse than if we just had the bad feeling without judgment. And the person that has really given me the most helpful thought around this topic has been Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School. And I thought that she has about it and that she has shared on her podcast that has been so helpful for me. And it’s not really about whether or not this is true. It doesn’t really even matter if it’s true. It’s just thinking about could this perspective be helpful for me. And that perspective is that life is 50-50. That’s the way Brooke Castillo words that life is going to comprise of emotions that feel good, and emotions that feel not so good.

And regardless of whether you are achieving your goals and doing amazing things, and everything is going well, or things aren’t going well, you’re having a hard time, you have some really challenging circumstances in your life, that you are going to have a mix of emotions. And this can be hard to believe, I think, for us because we can really get this belief that if we were just achieving our goals, and if we, for example, like weighed what we wanted to weigh, if our house looked the way we wanted to look for our bank account, look the way we want it to look like if we had all of those ducks in a row, then we wouldn’t have to feel ashamed, we wouldn’t have to feel inadequate.

We wouldn’t have to feel rejected disconnected, we would just be able to feel good all the time. And I think that’s where we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Because it’s with this hope of well, if I just put enough pressure on myself, and beat myself up enough that I can get my circumstances just right. So I never have to feel bad. And the interesting thing is when we approach things that way, we really end up feeling bad probably 80% of the time, because we have those emotions that are always going to be part of life. They don’t feel so good. And then on top we have judgement about the feelings we have also pressure and we have stress, and we don’t actually allow ourselves to feel good and for many of us we do don’t feel comfortable feeling good, it feels like the other shoe is going to drop, it feels like we must be missing something that we’re kidding ourselves.

And so we might prefer to feel bad even though we’re desperately trying to get to this place where we feel good all the time, when we’re in a place of 50-50. And feeling good half the time, roughly, a lot of us don’t know what to do with that it feels so uncomfortable, that we then bring up mentally, experiences from the past, that allow us to not feel good, so that we can go back to the comfort of not feeling good. And it’s important to know that this is going to be part of your life and your business journey. And at least for me, as I said, I have found it helpful to have this perspective, it helps me to be less judgmental, when I am feeling ashamed where I am feeling bad about something that I can just actually let those feelings be that and just to share a couple of examples with what this could look like.

So one of the PGSDers on the call, shared and wanted coaching around having thoughts about her past. And we didn’t go into specifics about it. And it wasn’t necessary to but having thoughts about past events that happened, that she feels regretful about and ashamed about, and her brain having thoughts about that. And I was sharing with her, like, if you were to accept that you have those feelings, even though you’ve worked with a therapist, even though you’ve done a lot of mindset work on it. If you were to accept that, what could that look like. And like for many of us, our brain goes to like, well, I’ve already worked on accepting this set of circumstances, the decisions I made the events themselves, but what we’re talking about here is accepting that your human brain, even if you’ve done so much work on all the things is still going to have periods of time where you just find yourself feeling those feelings and having thoughts of regret, or thoughts that create shame.

And then we can be in this place of I should know better. And this is what this PGSDer was saying, like I should know better. I’ve done so much work. And having that judgment on top of those feelings, that we will say for argument’s sake would be there, whether or not she has done that work, there are going to be and you can definitely for sure, do work on your thoughts and create different feelings. Like obviously, I’m such a big advocate for and believer in that. But what we’re really saying is here that even if that’s the case, which I believe it is, that our brains because of the way they operate, and we’re wired for survival, and to always be looking out for danger. And also our brain loves familiarity, and is trying to conserve energy.

So it prefers to think the same thoughts over and over again, rather than thinking different thoughts. So it’s very easy to get into a groove with our thoughts around certain topics. And a lot of those topics aren’t ones that make us feel good. So it’s knowing that even when we do work on certain things, there will be something else like a different flavor of negative emotion that we will be experiencing. And that regardless of whether or not you have big goals, or little goals or no goals, we are going to have a full spectrum of emotions. And being growth minded is really about being able to support yourself and trust yourself, regardless of how you’re feeling and not expecting yourself to feel good all the time. When we’re really in that perfectionist mindset.

We want to feel good all the time, especially because we feel inadequate. So we think the antidote to that is to get all of our circumstances just right and to control everything. So that we can finally feel good. But what we want to do is really look at like, just accepting our brain is going to have those thoughts that create those feelings. And that’s okay, nothing has gone wrong. And then we can just allow those feelings to be there and have them there with us throughout that day, throughout that week, throughout that month, allowing those feelings to be there without an agenda of I’m going to allow this feeling to be here so that it can pass through and I can get back to feeling good. It’s just like, I’m going to let anxiousness be with me today, or shame or regret. I’m going to let that be part of my day today.

And the beautiful thing is when we do that, often that feeling dissipates really quickly, much more quickly than when we’re trying to wrestle with that feeling. And we’re resisting that feeling and trying to banish that feeling if we just allow it to be there. It’s so powerful. And it’s not to say as well that when you allow it to be that then now you’re always going to be feeling good, you will still have other feelings that don’t feel good, but when we remove this judgment of feeling bad. And then we start feeling bad about feeling bad, we can just actually get to like, that’s what I’m most equipped to solve for whatever needs to be solved for or processed.

And when we do need to process an emotion, which is really about noticing it, acknowledging it, sitting with it, like feeling the vibration in your body, allowing yourself to be with it, not in this judgmental way or resistant way. If we have a feeling that lasts for a long time, often, it’s just, we’re resisting it. And there’s lots of people who talk about processing emotion, and what that looks like, and how quick that really is to do. I think Tony Robbins talks about it being maybe like 90 seconds. But anyway, I’m not an expert on that. But I know that it does pass pretty quickly when we allow ourselves to be with a feeling without an agenda of trying to get rid of it. And we just allow ourselves to be in it. And not resisting and not avoiding.

And if perfectionism is all about like, it’s a strategy to avoid shame, then knowing that like we do so many different things like the overthinking the procrastination, we burn ourselves out, like all of this to avoid a feeling of shame. But if we can develop shame, resilience, and I talk about this, I believe it’s in the self trust module inside the PGSD process, that if we can develop shame, resilience, and it’s something I’ve learned about from Brene Brown, who is a shame and vulnerability researcher, if we develop shame, resilience, that’s something we can do to help us keep showing up the way that we want to show up when we are feeling ashamed.

And that allows us also to just be with that shame for a second to feel those feelings, and to feel them all the way through. And I talked about now years ago, an experience that I had, where I was, at my part time job at the time. And I was looking at my podcast, I’d finished everything I needed to do for my work. And I was looking at my podcast reviews. And to that point, I only had positive podcast reviews. And I found two reviews, like the most recent two reviews, were basically confirming all of my insecurities about the podcast and podcasting that I ramble. And I wasn’t making sense, and all those different kinds of things. And I just felt this wash of shame. And I felt so inadequate in that moment.

I just remember, for me like this shame is just like that heat in my face. And my heart starts beating faster. And I just feel like I want to go and hide in a hole. And so I went home, and I didn’t want to talk about it. By being fully Steve noticed that me normally being like chatty, and hey, how’s your day going? Or whatever. I just kind of was like, hey, yep, like, I don’t really want to talk because I’m, like, come out, like, this really won’t come out. And so thankfully, he asked what was going on. And I told him about it. And I just let myself cry about it was one of the first times I feel like I really just let myself be in the feelings that I was having. And I let myself cry about it. And feel that shame that I felt.

And it was actually like, just being able to feel that shame, and kind of like cry it out. And I don’t know how long it was maybe 30 minutes, maybe 60 minutes, I was just like, really upset about it. And then naturally, it just kind of pass like if I just if you just let yourself be with the feeling. There’s only so long before our brains get a bit bored of it. And like, okay, less plus feels really nice now. So I cried it out. And then the next day, like, I remember doing a workout in the morning, like just needing to do some exercise to kind of reset myself. And then the next time I had a review like that it didn’t hit the same way it did the first time that I had so much more shame, resilience, because I had been with that and process that.

And so we want to give ourselves space to do that by not having judgment, about feeling ashamed. And a lot of advice out there about say for example, if you have a negative review, the advice would be okay, well, you should just remember that that person’s probably going through something hard themselves, and that’s why they felt like leaving a negative review. And you’re not for everyone. So, you know, even if they aren’t that kind of person, your podcast is going to be listened to by people who it’s not designed for. And so those people might leave reviews and all of that isn’t actually speaking to the shame that’s there and it’s just kind of like trying to provide this fixed for and it’s from this well meaning place but the most powerful thing to do is to be like I feel ashamed about this review or from me and my cases couple of reviews.

And it’s okay to feel ashamed about it. And I’m just going to let myself feel ashamed about it versus is trying to talk my rational, logical brain into believing, like, intellectually understanding why people might leave a negative review, or being growth minded about, of course are things to improve upon, but like just being like, I feel ashamed about it. And that’s okay, is so powerful that other PGSDer I coach on that call, she was saying, like I don’t like I’m kind of feeling like I’m having a rough quarter, I don’t really know what to get coached on. But I’m not feeling great about things. And so I offered that getting coaching and we could definitely figure out what would be helpful for her to get coached on.

And I could guide her through that, but when, as well as she was in this thought of, like, I’m not where I want to be. And I she had some success in the last quarter, but was feeling like, I’m not where I want to be with things with my goal, I’m not making the progress I want to be making. And so was finding herself with their power planning like pushing things off again, and again and again. And ultimately, there as well was this feeling of like, I should know better than to not be being productive and to not be doing the things I need to do. And just from that, like not giving herself the space to just have a bunch of clean rest and intentionally decide not to work on that business, she has a few businesses.

So to not work on that app business for I offered like for the next essentially five to six weeks, to just allow herself to, instead of like not actually really doing much anyway and putting it off and, and her self trust diminishing because of that to intentionally and strategically decide, hey, I’m not going to work on anything related to this except the bare minimum like for her, she needed to do a few updates so that her app remains in the app store. But beyond that, deciding that she wasn’t going to do any work on that. It like she said it felt panicky, because this is like, like I need to be doing stuff on that business.

And like this lack of self trust that if I have time away from it, that I’m going to actually be able to get to my goal because I already feel behind on it. Even though I intellectually know I’ve made a lot of progress with it. And I also the really interesting thing was like, I want to be this is what she was saying, like I want to be someone who is growing and is evolving. And I want to approach work in a new way. And me taking like a big chunk of time off doesn’t feel like that. And I offered to her that doing that is actually the most productive thing that she could do in terms of growth in so many ways.

And I offered to her like after the call go away do some divergent thinking like think about not just that option I presented but many different options to help her get some clarity and a bigger picture perspective on things and really be able to move forward in a powerful way rather than looking like week to week to week. But that when we really allow ourselves to just have that space, and the self trust required to say, I’m being strategic here, and I’m deciding that I’m not going to work on this thing. Instead of like it hovering around in my brain, I’m deciding I’m not going to work on it, until at least whatever date it is.

And I’m trusting that I will be able to with that clarity and rest in perspective, I will be able to work in a much more effective way to do my needle movers to figure out what I need to figure out to get to my goal, to recommit to my goal, if that’s something that’s needed. That is a new way of working. In PGSD that’s what we’re really focused on is not this idea of like, I just need to hustle and grind and force my way to my goals. Like we perfectionist, we we’ve already got that down. We already know how to work that way. And many of us have had a lot of success, quote unquote, in terms of results, we haven’t had a successful experience, because we didn’t enjoy the way we got there. Or we didn’t celebrate when we got there either.

But we’ve been praised and gotten approval for that approach. And so it can feel really scary and unsafe to let go of that approach and to really consider that we can be intentional, like we are the owners of the business. We can be intentional and create the reality we want and say this is the season where I’m actually going to decide not to do it. And this isn’t me self sabotaging. And this is a nuance and distinctions that come in as you do more of this work on your perfectionism handbrake is that this there’s like, you know, for a certain person, the coaching they need is that they need to show up and do the damn thing.

And other times it’s Hey, like you keep trying to get yourself to do them thing and the thing you need to do is to take that guilt free rest to put whatever it is on your not to do list so you can gain that bigger picture perspective and also just train your brain and show your brain that you don’t have to be working all day every day, to be able to achieve big things that you can work if you prefer in like chunks of time, and then have lots of time off, like you don’t need to do work on something every day, I prefer to have a full day, a few days of full work day, and then a few days fully off, whereas some people prefer to kind of dabble and do a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

And so it’s really getting to know yourself and understand yourself and having that clean rest. And that bigger picture perspective really makes such a difference with that. And another really powerful thing related to this is when it comes to decision making. And we can find that at times, we might have something worth thinking about, like, Should I do this? Or should I do this and like, maybe you find yourself in a bit of that comparison trap, and you’re looking at what everyone else is doing. And like I’m in an Aryan about something. And I love to just be like, Okay, here’s what I’m deciding for now.

And then next quarters, I love to work in quarters, like we do this in PGSD as well like in the year and then the quarter, and then the week, but having that quality perspective is so helpful. So thinking about okay, for this quarter, I’m going to decide for now for this quarter what my stance is. So for example, I did this for a podcast guests will be like, should I continue being a solo show, or should I have guests and then okay, I’m gonna decide for now, I really enjoy just being able to pick up the microphone like I’m doing today and record whenever I want to. So I’m going to continue being a solo show, and next quarter, I’m going to revisit this decision, but I’m not going to keep having this mental tab open.

So we want to do what we can to reduce the number of mental tabs that we have open. And oftentimes that involves putting something on a not to do list. And having a timeframe around that. And having as well, like in this situation, I was saying that, it doesn’t mean that you can’t think about it. And it’s trusting yourself that you will be able to get back into a really great work rhythm. But knowing that, like you can have a Google Doc or in your INotes or whatever, when you have it inspired ideas that will definitely come once you’re getting more clean rest, you will have inspired ideas and you can capture those and you can trust yourself as well in the future to update your decision about whether to continue having it be the date that you had said that you’d return to work.

And if you would have it be a different date. And the reason I just stopped there for a second was because I was thinking about how it is helpful to have a date specifically and not just be like, Oh, well, I’ll know when I know, to be like, Okay, I’m going to revisit this at the start of the next quarter so that your brain when it’s like I’m in an hour and again, do I know now can be like, Okay, well, next quarter, I’m going to reevaluate. And having that date for when something you on you’re not to do list is going to be considered again, really helps just be a safeguard against our brain wanting to just jump back into things because it feels so uncomfortable to not be busy working on something or that we just transfer the drama that we had about that thing, we weren’t doing on to something else.

And we want that other thing back, where we realize very quickly as well that we weren’t actually overwhelmed about the thing, and it was something else but just having and when I’ve used it in the past and not to do list, having that, like there was a reason I decided not to do any of this stuff this quarter. And so I can update that decision at any time. I have the freedom to do that. But I’m going to remind myself why I decided not to do this thing for the rest of the quarter. And actually give myself a minute to have a look at that decision. And to consider if I want to maintain my original decision or if I want to update that decision.

So I hope it’s been helpful to hear through all of this and just gain that perspective on not feeling bad about feeling bad life is 50-50. And we’re going to feel different feelings along the way. And if you aren’t feeling great right now, I hope this has just been a reminder to just sit with those feelings, let it be okay. And even though we want to do that without an agenda, to know that when we are allowing ourselves to be humans with all the emotions, that is when we’re able to show up the most fully and consistently and powerfully. So with that said, I hope you’re having a beautiful day and I’ll talk to you in the next episode.


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Author: Sam Brown