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Overcoming Perfectionism with Dr. Sasha Heinz

Sasha Heinz, PhD, MAPP, a developmental psychologist and life coach, is an expert in positive psychology, lasting behavioral change, and the science of getting unstuck. In her private coaching practice, she teaches clients the tools to change their lives for good. Heinz received her BA from Harvard, her PhD in development psychology from Columbia, and her master’s in applied positive psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, where she also served as a faculty member.

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How do you overcome perfectionism and people-pleasing to avoid stagnation in your life and career?

Development doesn’t stop when you become an adult. But that’s when you become bombarded with numerous daily decisions—both big and small. And the more stress you’re under, the harder these decisions can feel.

We have Dr. Sasha Heinz with us today to dive deeper into this topic. She’s a developmental psychologist, an expert in positive psychology, behavioral change, and the science of getting unstuck.

When you’re under pressure, it can be easy to end up in paralysis analysis. That state where you don’t know what to do or how to make a good decision. But there’s a way to overcome perfectionism by changing your mindset. If you’ve ever felt the need to be perfect and please other people, this episode is for you.

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"To be a leader in the world today, you need to evolve from a socialized mindset to a more self-authored mindset, where your values and the structure of your ethics are internally derived."

Dr. Sasha Heinz

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Getting Unstuck

  • Self-help should be rebranded as adult development.
  • The most important task of adulthood is your growth and development.
  • It isn’t easy figuring out how to human or how to adult, and those are the things many people are searching for help in.
  • Maybe you recognize that you have certain patterns like people-pleasing or perfectionism.
  • There can be a level of paralysis that comes with these patterns, leading you to feel like there’s something wrong with you.
  • Maybe it’s that you can’t speak up to your boss, or say no to a social event that you really don’t want to go to.
  • It’s something everyone struggles with in different ways.
  • 60% of adults are not highly functioning in terms of their cognitive framework.
  • Things like people pleasing and perfectionism are symptoms of a socialized mindset.
  • A socialized mindset is a mental framework where you’re embedded in belief systems that look for external validation.
  • You’re making sense of the world based on what other people have told you to believe.
  • This means you’re following the rules of society, rules of your family, rules of religion.
  • These are social norms that you’ve observed or been taught.
  • That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow rules.
  • Development is like the concentric rings of a tree. You need to pass through each developmental stage without skipping any.
  • It’s important to know how to be a good citizen and team member, where you learn how to compassionately show up for each other.
  • These stages are important, but it can be a problem when you stay stuck in a socialized mindset.

Shifting To A Self-Authored Mindset

  • To be a leader in the world today, you need to evolve from a socialized mindset to a self-authored mindset.
  • This is where your values and the structures of your ethics are internally derived.
  • You can have the same values that you learned from a socialized mindset.
  • But instead of upholding them because you don’t want to disappoint somebody, you uphold them because they’re in alignment with who you want to be.
  • It may seem like a small difference, but it’s an entire shift in perspective.
  • A change in perspective can be monumental.
  • Think of a four-year-old and a ten-year-old in an airplane.
  • To the four-year-old, their reality is that the landscape has become tiny.
  • The ten-year-old knows it’s because they’re high up, but they won’t be able to convince the four-year-old that what they see isn’t true.
  • But the shift happens as they develop through different cognitive stages between the ages of four and ten.
  • The same is true in adult development.
  • By shifting from a socialized mindset to a self-authored mindset, you’re taking a massive cognitive leap.
  • Here’s an example of how this perspective is different in terms of people pleasing and perfection.
  • Let’s use the example of not getting an assignment turned in for work on time, and it caused another member of your team to have to work over the weekend.
  • If you have a socialized mindset, you’re going to be upset and feel terrible because you’ve disappointed this other person and you’re going to be worried that they’re mad at you.
  • The reason to do the “right” thing is because you don’t want to disappoint someone.
  • If you have a self-authored mindset, you would have empathy and feel badly for the person who had to work on the weekend.
  • But your core concern would be that you didn’t show up in alignment with who you most want to be.
  • You would apologize and repair the relationship with the other person. But you wouldn’t be concerned about being a disappointment to somebody else.
  • You would be upset that you didn’t live up to your own standards of how you want to show up in the world.
  • And you would want to know how mitigate that so that it isn’t repeated in the future.
  • There is often shame in a socialized mindset. You would feel like you’re in the wrong, that you’ve done something bad.
  • That shame is a barrier to growth.
  • If you’re ashamed, you aren’t able to sit down and get feedback from yourself or others, so that you can then sit down to assess the situation appropriately and make changes for the future.
  • A self-authored mindset is a belief system that’s far a more sophisticated and nuanced worldview.
  • You still take in and consider other people’s disappointment. But the real issue is that you didn’t live up to your values.

Reclaim Your Agency

  • People pleasing, perfectionism, and paralysis all occur when you’re looking for external validation.
  • People pleasing is about wanting to do what you think others want you to do, so that you can control how they perceive you.
  • The most important thing isn’t how you perceive yourself in this mindset—it’s how others perceive you.
  • The same is true with perfectionism. It’s not about living up to your own standards of excellence. It’s about others perceiving you as excellent.
  • It may seem like a small, semantic difference, but it’s an entirely different world of development.
  • And you can really see the difference in the way people lead.
  • Socialized mindsets are great team members. They show up and do the work.
  • But if you’re in the role of being a leader, that work requires that you develop self-authorship.
  • You can’t lead if you’re constantly taking everyone’s temperature to find out how good you are or how good you’re doing.
  • You have to flip that self-development switch to get your agency back.
  • Agency is the ability to self-define as opposed to looking to other people to define your identity.
  • Getting your agency back by developing into a self-authored mindset brings so much freedom because you’re not constrained by what other people think about you.
  • Development and adulthood are not correlated with age.
  • You can be sixty years old and struggle with being in a socialized mindset, or be twenty have already done the work to become self-authored in the way you show up and engage with the world.
  • There’s a notion that once you hit full physical maturity at 25, that you’ve also reached full psychological, emotional, and cognitive maturity. But that’s just not true.
  • While there are milestones that create the framework for childhood development, there’s very little to guide adult development.
  • You’re constantly evolving into more sophisticated cognitive systems.
  • You can use a journal, where you write your thoughts out when you get stuck or feel like you can’t move forward.
  • This can help you unlock your fears and assumptions about yourself, so you can then work to develop them into a self-authored perspective.
  • Remember that these may sound childish, but none of these fears or assumptions are rational, so don’t try and rationalize them.
  • From acknowledging these thoughts, you can take your fears and assumptions to trusted individuals to get feedback on how true these thoughts are and work on adjusting them as necessary.
  • Be sure to check out the unedited, extended episode on YouTube, here.

Share With Us

  • Take a screenshot of this episode, share it, and tag us on social media (@DrSashaHeinz &  @JimKwik) and share one fear or assumption you’re making, and how you can shift your mindset.
  • To learn more about positive psychology and how to development your self-authored mindset, be sure to visit www.drsashaheinz.com.

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