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Perfectionism haunts all of us. And it poisons our soul and destroys everything good we’ve accomplished. 

But you don’t have to let your perfectionism ruin everything you love about life. Once you understand the source of perfectionism, you can create a plan to eliminate it. 

In this episode, I’m sharing the source of your perfectionism and how to finally let it go so you can have a more loving and free life. 

Here Are The Show Highlights:

  • How the Mormon Church can help you finally ditch your perfectionism (even if you’re not religious) (5:29) 
  • The insidious way perfectionism stunts your confidence and belittles your greatest accomplishments (11:44) 
  • How doing what you’re “supposed to do” poisons your insides and makes you hopeless (15:46) 
  • The “3-Minute Honest Assessment Trick” that loosens perfectionism’s grip over you (19:49) 
  • Why your car is the single greatest place of transformation and healing from perfectionism’s wrath (23:22) 

If you want to radically change how much control you have over your emotions in as little as 20 days, you can go to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/feelbetternow and sign up for the Choose Your Own Emotion course. 

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/ and book a call where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

Read Full Transcript

It's time to rip the cover off what really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the F-word here: Freedom. We'll share, straight from the trenches, what we have learned from leaving our own addictions behind, and coaching hundreds of others to do the same—and since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it. [00:27.6]

Bob: And welcome back to the Alive and Free Podcast. Okay. Today, I want to talk about perfectionism in a big way, because this is something that a lot of people deal with and the hope is by the end, to give you a way out or start to give you a way out of the perfectionist bubble, I'm not going to pretend that we can handle it all in 20 minutes, but we might, you know, maybe this will do the thing for you. So it starts back. Oh, about 15 years ago, I had spent a couple of years in Brazil, I as a missionary for my church at the time, and I had learned the Portuguese language and I'd come back and I was studying at Brigham Young University and I had an opportunity to translate a website. Now this is hilarious, hold your britches. The name of the website was lips to kiss was a lady who had developed some cosmetic products. And so I translated them into Portuguese and then she liked my voice. So she said, Hey, can you come and do some voiceover for me? So I was like, cool. [01:36.3]

So I went into the voiceover studio and I was recording some of the things, doing several takes of some of those snatches of texts that I had put down there and that I had translated. And in one of the offhand conversations in between recording sessions, the guy who was doing the recording and I were chatting about marketing and things that work in the state of Utah, not in the state of Utah. And he said, you know, what's interesting is that in the state of Utah, the things that do the best are get rich quick schemes, pyramids schemes, multilevel marketing stuff, sales, you know, one-off low tiered products as well. And anything having to do with personal vanity, makeup, personal appearance, things, even cars and things like that. Those do really, really well in Utah. And so a lot of people all over the country when they have anything of that sort, what they'll test it out and they'll test it out in the state of Utah. [02:32.7]

And that threw me for a loop. I was literally in there like, wait, wait a second. You know, Utah is like a bunch of people that, you know, they're Mormons, right? We were like, you know, salt of the earth. These are people that like, believe in God and care about stuff and, and are trying to be good people and whatnot. And we're like naive suckers for get rich quick schemes. Yeah makes sense. Okay. You know, a lot of moms staying home, looking to figure out a second for the family. So we might get sucked into those. I got sucked into a couple, so I'm not exactly guiltless here. And then on the other side of it, there are, this is the vanity thing like I would have expected no offense, but like orange County, California, and you know, Hollywood and places like that, where how you look is who you are kind of thing, at least in my brain. And so if you're from there, my apologies, I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about the other people okay. But like, that's what I had in my head. [03:29.4]

So it threw me for a loop to think that these people, this state of people would have been founded by a bunch of Mormon pioneers that had so far believed in their own belief system that they left the United States and gone to settle some other place in Mexico at the time and then the United States caught up with them so that they could finally like live according to their beliefs. And that somehow that civilization that culture showed up as one that is particularly falling prey to anything associated with vanity. So I had to sit back and think about that for a bit, because I don't think it means that they're bad people. But I do think as a trend, that's an interesting data point to look at. So you have all right, get rich quick schemes, anybody trying to make a buck and stuff well, they have big families and stuff. So maybe I'm not going to count that as a point against them. You've got a bunch of like discount seekers, low priced products, and a lot of marketing, especially nowadays, they'll say that in Utah, if you can get a price, if you can get a product to work in Utah, you can get it to work anywhere in the United States. Like anyone will buy it anywhere if they'll buy it in Utah kind of thing. [04:35.1]

Cause this is like the market to test those things in. And I go, well, yeah, you know, lots of big families, people trying to beat sensible with their income and not spend more than they need to. Sometimes I think that's to a fault we're so busy, like money has become a God and savings has become a God to us that in, in lieu of living a high-quality life, well sometimes just skimp and cut back and hold back and save for a rainy day. I I'm sure there's a couple of different opinions on the matter. I'm definitely not right. I just have one opinion. So I didn't look at that as anything particularly sometimes it's irritating if you're trying to sell something in Utah, I guess, but I didn't look at that as anything particularly negative, but the vanity thing was throwing me. So I sat back and thought about it for a second. This is pertinent, I think, to anybody of any religious persuasion or anybody of any moral persuasion or ethical persuasion, because this is really what's at the bedrock of what creates perfectionism in a culture. [05:34.3]

And I think that the Mormon Church, the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints is a really good window to look through, to understand perfectionism and where it comes from. And so no matter where you're at in your life, if you're, if you've been dealing with perfectionism, you know, and you just grown up that way and it's been something that's been a struggle for you, but you're not religious in any sense. Trust me, this is going to be pertinent as we start to look at where it comes, particularly with relation to the beliefs that you grow up with. And what I'm going to say is maybe they're not religious beliefs, but as I'm talking about this consider what are the things your parents told you are the ways things should be, those would be your beliefs, right? And so if you struggled with perfectionism or know somebody who has, we're going to look there. So I started thinking about the, the Mormon faith and I, they call themselves Christians because Jesus Christ is a prominent figure, both in the book of Mormon and in their religion. Other Christians don't call them Christians because of certain criteria that they find in the Bible and whatnot. [06:34.7]

And so they say, no, that's not the Jesus of the Bible. So they not worshiping Christ, they're worshiping something else in the name of Christ. That's not an argument, we have to settle here. Okay. But let's lump them together. In most Christian faiths, it's pretty much pass or fail. Meaning you either go to heaven or hell, maybe there's a purgatory in the middle before you get there, but then you're going to heaven or hell, you either made it or you didn't make it and that's it. All the jokes about Peter at the pearly gates, those are heaven and hell jokes. So almost all Christians, if you get a 51%, you kind of made it, which is such a relief you know. I loved pass-fail classes in college, I just had to do the bare minimum. But in the Mormon faith and you know, this is very inspiring for many of them. So, so don't take this as everybody takes it this way. I'm just talking about the people that struggle with perfectionism, but in the, in the Mormon faith there's hell, which is an outer darkness thing. Right? And there's going to be very, very few people that go there. So in that sense, it's a very optimistic faith. [07:35.9]

And then heaven is everyone else. By very, very few people that go to this outer darkness place we're talking like you could maybe count them on one or two hands kind of people. You have to have done the most egregious thing you have to have like seen God in the flesh and still decided to fight against him kind of thing, like Satan. So there's only a handful of people that are like that, maybe Satan, Kane and a couple of others, right. And all the rest are going to make it into the heavenly sphere, right. And there's three degrees of glory. So think sun, moon, and stars, obviously the highest glory would be the sun. Then there's the moon, then there's the stars. Let's not talk astronomy and get that confused. Let's just talk about perception. The sun is usually the brightest thing in the sky, the moon next, and then the stars next. Right? So Telestial, that's the stars. Bunch of people going to make it in there. Then terrestrial, that's like the moon kind of glory, right. And then celestial, right. And that's the highest degree, right? That's the highest kingdom. And everybody who's in that, faith is taught that the celestial kingdom is where you go in order to live with God again. [08:37.6]

If you don't go to the celestial kingdom, then you won't be living with God again, you'll be living with like Jesus and the angels or you’ll be, leaving the telestial kingdom is like a much better place than it is here. Much, much better by a lot of different accounts for a visions and things people have seen it's, it's going be much better than here, but you know, God's not going to, be able to be visited by Jesus or the Holy ghost or whatnot, but you know, God's not gonna be around. So if you want to live with God, you gotta go to the celestial kingdom. But here's the catch guys. And those of you who are a member of that faith, you know, this catch. And I'm not saying this in a bad way, but there are three degrees inside of the celestial kingdom. We don't know what the bottom one does. The next one I think is like angels and stuff. And then the top tier is the tier where you get to be like, God, right? That's an open-ended you get to progress forever. It's eternal. You come, you get to go, you know, have a family forever and have billions of children on a bunch of different planets. And you get to keep creating and being like God in the theology. [09:38.6]

So if you imagine it like a building, you basically have six floors, five floors, right? The bottom floor is telestial kingdom. You don't go anywhere from that. It's a beautiful floor. It's fun. Maybe it's a fun gym. You know, it's like one of these trampoline parks or something, and it's got food courts and all kinds of stuff and it's just amazing. Though i's like hotel Valhalla in the Percy Jackson, the Magnus Chase series. Okay. Second floor is a terrestrial. It's even better, maybe there's more light. You get a chill with Jesus and stuff like that from time to time and all that other good stuff. And then the third floor is the lowest floor of the celestial kingdom. All of these floors have ceilings. Fourth floors, the angels and then the fifth floor is the one that doesn't have a ceiling. You can grow forever. You can constantly expand forever. It's this glorious idea that you will constantly get to go and improve. But the problem with this that I've seen with regard to perfectionism is just this there's so much taught inside of that church environment about how glorious it's going to be to go be like, God, that it makes it feel like just pass fail is not good enough. [10:43.2]

If I get into the telestial kingdom, even though it's better than anything here, if I get there, somehow I failed. And if I get to the terrestrial, even though it's better than telestial, somehow I failed because it's not celestial. And if I get into the celestial kingdom, but only the bottom two tiers, somehow I failed because I didn't get to be like God. And that's what the whole teaching of the church is around, being able to have the opportunity to finally be a God yourself. So only if I get into the honor roll, it's not good enough to get a 51%. If we break them up into three major divisions, then it's not good enough to get a 67% or is it good enough to get like a 90% you've got to get like a 98%. You gotta be on the honor, roll on the Dean's list in order to make it. [11:36.5]

And if you look at your theology that way, and I'm not saying every member of the church does cause some of them, this is it's, it feels very different to them. So I'm only speaking of those who have this push for perfectionism and feels like no, Jesus said, be therefore perfect like your father and I are perfect. That's commandment, we need to be just like them. Nothing less will do. If that's the drive, right what starts to happen is this constant sense of self be rating for things that you've achieved. [12:05.5]

If you or someone you know is looking to drop the F-bomb of “Freedom” in their life, whether that's from past trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other host of emotional and personal struggles, but they just don't know how or wants some help doing it. Head on over to thefreedomspecialist.com/feelbetternow and check out some of the things we've got in store for you or book a call so we can look at your unique situation and get you the help that you're looking for. [12:33.4]

You know, you make it to telestial and all of a sudden that's like a negative thing instead of a positive step forward from this side. You make it terrestrial and that's a negative thing and part of the problem is that these are like eternal places. This life determines all of it for the rest of eternity, what you do in this life determines all that stuff. So there's a little bit of angst around it. And a lot of people are like, well, no, but I don't want to be stuck there forever. Is good as it might sound like the only place I want to be is the place where there's infinity, where I can grow forever, where I'm not gonna be stuck doing one thing forever where all possibilities are open to me, whatever it is that I want to do and become. So there's this internal pressure that starts to build that I have to be perfect. I have to be like, Jesus, I have to do what Jesus would do in order for it to count. [13:23.0]

And then comes this sense of like Mormons are really hard on themselves. A lot of them, not all of them, you know, not the pro I haven't met all of them. You know, there's some purported 15 million members of the church, I have not met all of them. And I'm speaking of Americans in particular, so other countries might not be this way. And of the Americans, only the ones that I've met, which is maybe several thousands. So this is, take it as a small sample size. This was just me trying to make sense of the vanity thing. I have to look the part because if I don't look the part, there's something wrong with me. And so we would go and do a hundred percent of our visits for other members of the church to make sure it's good and feel this pressure to like make it and do everything we've been asked to do. Anytime we've been asked to volunteer saying no, feels like a bad thing for some members, because it feels like no you're turning down something. Jesus wouldn't do that. Even if that's the smartest thing you could do in your life. Like my sister was like really sick at one point in time and she couldn't do stuff, but she felt bad that she had to say no, even though it would have been detrimental to her health to say, yes, that's not what the church teaches, but it's how it's kind of taken just because of the setup, right. [14:31.2]

And so I want to make that clear, this isn't a critique on the Mormon Church. This is literally how people make their lives around teachings and doctrine. And this is why if you, you interview any member of the church of any church, you'll find that their church is different than yours, even if you're members of the same congregation, that their beliefs in some fundamental way is different. My wife and I, our beliefs different and more now than they ever have. You know and it's just because you make in your life, you make sense of it the way that makes the most sense to you. And if somebody else's ideas don't make sense or they seem dumb or they seem like they won't work for you, then you don't adopt those. And so the same with this kind of church environment. So what am I getting at here? Their belief that it is not good enough unless you get the 98% has created an entire set of behaviors that make them looking for 98%. When I was in school, man, I did extra credit and classes. I was always street reaching for an A, that doesn't mean that other people from other religions don't do this or other cultures and countries. I mean, certain cultures seem to have this intellectual push. Like India seems to have it and whatnot, certain careers that you need to live in and how much money you need to make. And all these things like it's not just religious, but because of that, there's this perfectionism. [15:48.8]

On the outside, I go and I do all these things that I know I'm supposed to do because everybody told me to. But on the inside, there's this like despair and this feeling that starts to grow because you don't want to do those things and that makes you feel worse. I'm supposed to be like, Jesus, I don't want to be like Jesus and that makes me worse because now I'm not like Jesus. Or I'm supposed to do these things for my family. I don't want to do these things for my family. And that makes me a bad member of the family or society and so on. So what happens is we put up a show on the outside and if you've ever been to church or you've ever been to these community meetings, everybody shows up and we put on a smile on the outside and we talk about all the beautiful things happening in life. And people just don't get real and honest with how they feel. They don't get real and honest with their life because they feel like one; it would be a burden on someone else. Two, I'm not supposed to like this isn't the environment. I'm not just supposed to tell people how I feel. They don't want to know, or it's not polite or all of the rules that we have set up. So we're so busy trying to live up to all the rules that those rules themselves prevent us from alleviating this feeling of immense pressure to be what we're not. [16:54.5]

And many of them feel judged just by who they are. I was born and then someone tells me, sorry, you can't be, you. You need to be like, Jesus. You're not good enough as you are. You're a sinner. You're broken. You're whatever else in one sense. So, there's some cheap pastors and, and, and congregations that teach this way. Right. But even if they don't teach that way, that's kind of the message that comes across. Now, it's meant in a very positive way. Like even though you're broken and you're a sinner, there is God cares about you enough to have sent his son in that sense. But even that it's still affirms the brokenness of God's creation that yeah, God created you. He messed up. Sorry, you've got to take it from here you know, but he'll fix it in another way. And I don't mean that flippantly, even though it kind of comes across flippantly, but these kinds of beliefs, this, the culture that you come out of, the, what your parents believed you were supposed to do, and what's supposed to happen in the world or religion that you came out of all of these beliefs that you adopted when I adopted and other people have adopted in order to make their way in the world, how you made sense of them is really the source of the perfectionism. [18:01.9]

It's, what's driving a lot of your need to be what everybody else thinks you ought to be. Because if you're not that, then it means something bad about you. And I'm going to have you consider here at the end of this, that that's not true. That there's nothing to fix about you. That if God, the creator of all of this, made you the way that you are, then maybe just maybe he or she, if you're a believer and a, she, God knew what they were doing. And at the end of creation and the end of the creative periods, they said it was good. And later places in scripture, they say woe unto him that calls that, which is good, evil. Mankind is created declared very good. And then men show up and say, what God means is you're not good unless you do these other things. [18:56.3]

My suggestion to you is that there's nothing wrong with you. That how you were created was intentional. That who you are, the way you are, your inclinations and your desires and things like that, that are really native to you. That that is what you're meant to be. And then all the stuff you picked up along the way to cope with it is just a result of feeling like it's not okay to be yourself. And there are a lot of times in exhaust. I had a conversation this morning with somebody, a lot of times in these exhausting scenarios where it's exhausting to be around people. A lot of times it can just be because it's exhausting to be around people who are expecting you to be like someone else. And it feels like you have to recover from that. But when you're around people who you feel like you can be yourself around, it's not exhausting at all. It's very, very freeing and very rejuvenating because there's no need to hide. [19:48.7]

So in order to end the perfectionism, what do we do, Bob? The first step is going to be honesty. 12 steppers will tell you this. You know, a lot of people will tell you this, but the first step is going to be to stop hiding what you feel. Now, I'm not saying, go dump it on everybody around you. Not that that's bad, but it can cause some aftermath. And since there's some things in your life that you might not want, okay. But at least to yourself, take some time every day to admit exactly how you feel. Just admit it. Just be straight up honest. Like I hate for instance, when our church was doing Scouts, man, I hate participating in boy Scouts. I don't like the curriculum. I think the activities are dumb. There's a few cool things in there, but most of the time, I think it's ridiculous. I couldn't admit that to people. I had to admit it to myself, but I had to be 100% honest with it. And as I was able to at least be honest with myself, the weight of that lessened a little bit. And I was able to just be like, okay, cool. Well, I don't like this. Awesome. I'll do it. But I don't like it. And that's, what's real for me if I like it later. That's awesome. But right now I don't like it. And so, okay, cool. I don't like it. [20:57.4]

So how you’re feeling about your spouse, how you're feeling about your kids, all of those things, be 100% honest with it. Like here's an honesty. Do I always love my kids in the sense of, I'm definitely mentally committed to doing what I can for them so that they can lead a good life. Yeah, sure. But if we're talking about the experience of love, that state of being that I'm in, do I always, if I'm not in that state and this was in the episode around your ‘Mama, don't love you,’ that one. But if I'm, if I'm not in that state, let's say I'm in a state of frustration. Then whenever my kids around all they're going to feel from me is frustration. And so I'll step back and I'll be honest like there are times when I don't love my kids. Why? Because I'm frustrated or because I'm angry or because I'm upset about something or because I'm sad or because I want some alone time. And in those moments, I'm not purely in love with them. There's social pressure to always say, Oh, I love my family. And I love my wife and I love my kids, but I can guarantee you, my wife and I have talked as we watch other people posting their social media profiles. And they're like, Oh, it's our anniversary. We went through ups and downs, but I do it all again. [22:11.2]

A number of years ago and I may have shared this before my wife and I were literally like, I wouldn't do it again. It was hard. And if I knew what was coming, I wouldn't do it. I would probably do something very, very different and not go down that rabbit hole of marriage because that was really rough for a long time, a lot of years. And she and I were both honest with that. And it was a relief to me, to be honest. But Hey, the honest part is I don't always love my wife. I don't always love myself all the time. I don't always love my kids because I'm not always experiencing a loving feeling. I'm still committed to myself and to my wife and to my kids. So that doesn't take that away. Will I still do things that are beneficial for them, even if I don't like it. Yes. But it's more beneficial for them if I am in a state of love while doing it. But honestly, being able to say, no, I don't really love my kids right now, without fear of somebody judging you for that, will start to alleviate the burden of perfectionism. [23:12.1]

And you might just find, as you're honest about what you really feel, you might find that you feel more loved and you feel like you matter more than maybe you have in the past. And I'll tell you the place where I did a lot of this emoting and talking was in my car. Cause I had to drive to and from work from time to time or, you know, to pick up people and stuff. And so the car became a safe Haven for me because I could scream at the top of my lungs. I could be quiet. I could cry and I, everything else and it was still contained inside of a little container where it wasn't hurting anybody else. And that car, which I still own to this day has been a place of tremendous transformation and healing for me, for no other reason than it was a place where I could be honest with how I felt and not have to worry about being judged for feeling that way. And I want to give you permission and space to do the same thing. So this week take some time, be honest. And if you need to go on a car drive to do it, go for it. [24:06.3]

And that's it for todays “Alive and Free Podcast.” If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom bombs landing in your ear buds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcasts from. And, while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you. Plus, it's just nice to be nice. [24:24.5]

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