5 Types Of Perfectionism And How To Make Them Work For You

Why do so many self-described perfectionists – bright, ambitious and hardworking women – feel like something is wrong with them?

  • Why are perfectionists so hard on themselves?
  • Why are ambitious women with high standards told to “be less of a perfectionist” when this criticism would never be leveled at a man?
  • And how can ambitious achievers, striving towards the ideal, find peace and self-compassion while continuing to embrace their perfectionism? 

Personally I’ve always been a ‘Straight A’ kind of girl. A bit of an ambitious (but anxious) overachiever.

I like my gold stars and also worry that I don’t do enough.

I have to resist the pull to people-please. I don’t want to disappoint people. I feel like I have to justify it when I relax.

Apparently that makes me mostly a “Parisian Perfectionist”. But also a little bit of a “Classic Perfectionist” with just a drop of “Intense Perfectionism”.

Did you know that perfectionism isn’t one-size fits all?

I didn’t. It turns out that there are 5 types of perfectionism.

So I asked Katherine Morgan Schafler, a psychotherapist, speaker, author of The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control and former on-site therapist at Google who has worked with legions of self-described perfectionists to help me understand how to embrace my perfectionism in a way that works in my life. 

Katherine shared with me that perfectionists often seem completely put together, but might feel like they’re crumbling on the inside trying to achieve and maintain extremely high standards.

And when they reach their breaking point they’re often given the generic advice to “find balance” or “don’t be such a perfectionist”

In The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control, Katherine takes back “perfectionist” from the critics and argues you don’t have to stop being a perfectionist to be healthy. 

So how can we understand our perfectionism and harness it in an empowering way?

The first step is to understand that perfectionism is not one-size-fits-all. 

In The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control, Katherine outlines five different types of perfectionists: The Classic, Intense, Parisian, Messy, and The Procrastinator. 

I took this quiz to find my perfectionist profile and discovered that I’m 57% a Parisian perfectionist, 29% a Classic perfectionist, and 14% an Intense perfectionist. 

You should take the quiz to discover your perfectionist profile!

In reading the descriptions of the perfectionist types it seemed right on and it was fascinating to dive into the ways in which I can harness my perfectionism in adaptive ways and minimize the ways in which perfectionism makes me feel anxious and overwhelmed. 

Most women who come to Katherine for therapy are looking for help managing their perfectionism because it has become a problem for them. It’s manifested into some form of self-punishment, whether it’s overly negative or critical self-talk, self-sabotaging, denying oneself simple pleasures and numbing in a number of ways including over-drinking.

We talked about how many perfectionists drink to quiet their minds, relax or numb out the parts of their lives they feel are overwhelming. The problem with numbing is that it actually doesn’t make us feel good; it makes us feel nothing. When the numbing wears off, we still have our pain to answer to.

Instead of self-punishment Katherine emphasizes the importance of self-compassion and celebrating the process of striving towards a goal. 

She notes that adaptive perfectionists invite joy, connection, support, and gratitude in the middle of the process, not just at the end. Adaptive perfectionists report the highest levels of meaning, subjective happiness, and life satisfaction, and they’re also the least self-critical. 

Katherine also discusses the struggles of maladaptive perfectionists and how they are always on some kind of mental treadmill. She emphasizes the importance of sleep, which is a primary driver of mental health. She encourages her clients to engage in activities that restore and build their energy, such as sleeping, listening to music, having conversations, cooking, playing basketball, reading, and taking walks.

In Katherine studies of adaptive perfectionists, maladaptive perfectionists, and non-perfectionist groups, adaptive perfectionists report the highest levels of meaning, subjective happiness, and life satisfaction, and they’re also the least self-critical. 

Katherine also shared nine new thoughts to not overthink this, such as energy management beats time management and focusing on what you can stop doing rather than what you need to start doing. 

In this episode we dive into all things women and perfectionism. 

Listen to learn about:

  • The 5 types of perfectionism and how to identity your type(s)

  • The way “perfectionism” has been used to describe ambitious, power seeking women in a critical way

  • The difference between “high strivers” and perfectionists
  • The problem with mistaking self-punishment for accountability
  • How to manage your energy, not your time
  • The difference between immediate gratification and pleasure
  • “Joy diets”: why maladaptive perfectionists restrict pleasure in a misguided expression of responsibility
  • Why the real problem is not that we approach our lives with perfectionism, it’s that we respond to missteps with self-punishment
  • Adaptive and maladaptive ways to harness and manage perfectionism
  • 8 behavioral strategies to help perfectionists stop overdoing it
  • The importance of self-compassion

Katherine Morgan Schafler’s 5 Types of Perfectionists 

Take this quiz to get your perfectionist profile

  1. Intense perfectionists

Intense perfectionists are effortlessly direct and maintain razor sharp focus when it comes to achieving their goals. Left unchecked, their standards can go from high to impossible, and they can be punitive with others and themselves for not meeting their standards.

  1. Classic perfectionists

Classic perfectionists are highly reliable, consistent and detail-oriented, and they add stability to their environment. Left unchecked, they struggle to adapt to spontaneity or a change in routine, and can have a hard time developing meaningful relationships.

  1. Parisian perfectionists

Parisian perfectionists possess a live-wire understanding of the power of interpersonal connection and hold a strong capacity for empathy. Left unchecked, their desire to connect to others can metastasize into toxic people-pleasing.

  1. Procrastinator perfectionists

Procrastinator perfectionists excel at preparing, can see opportunities from a 360-degree perspective, and have good impulse control. Left unchecked, their preparative measures hit a point of diminishing returns, resulting in indecisiveness and inaction.

  1. Messy perfectionists

Messy perfectionists effortlessly push through the anxiety of new beginnings, are superstar idea generators, adapt to spontaneity well, and are naturally enthusiastic. Left unchecked, they struggle to stay focused on their goals, ultimately spreading their energy too thin to follow through on their commitments.

You can check out Katherine’s book, The Perfectionist Guide to Losing Control, and take the perfectionist profile quiz to identify your perfectionist tendencies.

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It’s my signature sober coaching course for busy women to help you drink less + live more. 

To enroll go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com.

Grab the  Free 30-Day Guide To Quitting Drinking, 30 Tips For Your First Month Alcohol-Free

Connect with Katherine Morgan Schafler

Katherine Morgan Schafler is a New York City based psychotherapist, author, and speaker, and former on-site therapist at Google. For years she’s worked with legions of self-described perfectionists – bright, ambitious, hardworking women who inexplicably felt that something is wrong with them. 

In her new book, The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control, Katherine takes back “perfectionist” from the critics and argues you don’t have to stop being a perfectionist to be healthy. She writes about how perfectionism can hold women back or allow them to soar – depending on how it’s managed. For women who are sick of being given the generic advice to “find balance,” she brings forward a new approach.

To learn more about Katherine, the work she does, and to take her Perfectionist guide quiz – head over to https://www.perfectionistsguide.com/ 

Follow Katherine on Instagram: @katherinemorganschafler 

Articles on Perfectionism and Resources Mentioned in this Episode

Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time 

Why you may want to embrace your perfectionism 

Kristin Neff + Self-Compassion 

Harriet Lerner 

A psychotherapist shares the 5 types of perfectionists—and what makes them so successful

VIDEO: The Perfectionists Guide To Losing Control – Don’t Go On A Joy Diet

Connect with Casey

Take a screenshot of your favorite episode, post it on your Instagram and tag me @caseymdavidson and tell me your biggest takeaway!

Want to read the full transcript of this podcast episode? Scroll down on this page.


Are you looking for the best sobriety podcast for women? The Hello Someday Podcast was created specifically for sober curious women and gray area drinkers ready to stop drinking, drink less and change their relationship with alcohol.

Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life and sobriety coach and creator of The 30-Day Guide to Quitting Drinking and The Sobriety Starter Kit Sober Coaching Course, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement. 

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A Top 100 Mental Health Podcast, ranked in the top 1% of podcasts globally, The Hello Someday Podcast is the best sobriety podcast for women.

In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.

Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol-free life. 

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5 Types Of Perfectionism And How To Make Them Work For You
with Katherine Morgan Schafler


perfectionist, people, drinking, book, immediate gratification, women, life, feel, punishment, big, therapist, understand, good, pleasure, called, therapy, self-compassion, talk, feeling


SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Katherine Morgan Schafler


Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.

In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.

Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a buzz, how to sit with your emotions when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.

Hi there. Today, we are talking about Perfectionism. And I am so excited about the guest I brought on to talk about this topic.


Katherine Morgan Schafler is a New York City based psychotherapist, an author, and a speaker, and she’s also the former on-site therapist at Google. For years, she’s worked with legions of self-described perfectionist, bright, ambitious, hardworking women who inexplicably felt like something is wrong with them. In her new book, The Perfectionist’s Guide to Losing Control, Katherine takes back the term perfectionist from the critics and argues you don’t have to stop being a perfectionist to be healthy. She writes about how perfectionism can hold women back or allow them to soar depending on how it’s managed. And for women who are sick of being given the generic advice, to find balance, she brings forward a new approach.



And Katherine, I told you that I have your book and have read it. And I am sort of the Gold Star Girl who spent all my time underlining and making notes and dog earrings. So, I really loved it. And I think that my listeners are going to get a ton out of this conversation.



Well, I love to hear that. Thank you. I’m so happy to be here.


Casey McGuire Davidson  02:45

So, your book just came out. I want everyone to get like, a taste of all the good stuff that’s in there. But as you know, a people pleaser/overachiever/always wanting the pat on the head.


Your first chapter in the book is called, You’re going to be graded on this. And I literally laughed out loud when I read that.



Yeah, I mean, I think to get through the arduous work of writing a book, you have to have a sense of humor. And so, I tried to punch a little bit of that throughout the work.


Casey McGuire Davidson  03:17

Well, so tell me about the book in your business and sort of why you’re drawn to women who are self-described “perfectionists”.



Well, you know, I think that we write the books we most need ourselves. And the themes in the book, pertain specifically to perfectionist, they’re also universal themes of understanding your self worth, understanding why you are striving for what you’re striving and what you think that’s going to get you and looking at your identity in a way, which allows you to recognize patterns and gain insight and then grow as opposed to looking at your identity in a way that limits you and restricts you into a certain way of viewing yourself. And so, I looked at my own life. I looked at how drawn I have always been to working with perfectionist. And I had. I mentioned it briefly in the book, this moment in time, which I think we all go through repeatedly, where I just totally lost control of my life brought on by health diagnosis that was not expecting and you know, subsequently having to let go of so much of what I had planned for in this very meticulous way.


And it sounds so cliche, but I never realized how much I was attached to control until I lost so much of it, and I had to ask myself some big one.


Questions like, well, who are you now, if you can’t do this? Or, you know, this was at a time, when I had just been married, and I had to go to chemotherapy without freezing my eggs. And he was like, Well, who are you going to be if you can’t have kids? And who are you now? And just like, one question after the other, I really identified with my work and my job. And I thought, Oh, my God, what if I have to leave my practice? That was one of the scariest thoughts for me. And who are you if you’re not what you do? and just questions like that, that rang the bell on something that I have, has always been with me.


And the more I looked into perfectionism, academically, I was surprised that we are really in the infancy of our understanding of this topic. There’s not that much research into the details that I noticed coming up in my practice. And I had no language to describe the kind of perfectionist that I saw, which deviated from this classic type, a version that we all sort of think about. And the perfectionism that I noticed coming up in myself, and I thought, there’s no language for this. I can’t find answers anywhere else. I just have to independently study it. And so, it set me on this track. And like I said, the more I learned, the more surprised and shocked I was, and they were just layer after layer of how gendered this construct is. How applicable it is, how context driven it is. So, you know, I got to the point where I was like, I have to contain all of this somehow. And that’s why I wrote the book.


Casey McGuire Davidson  06:40

Yeah, I mean, I love that I have to say, I always try to do my research, before I interview someone. And so, I read your book. And then I was just Googling, you know, types of perfectionism in your book, you present five types of perfectionist. And when I Google it, it’s like, look, there are three types. It’s self-oriented perfectionism. It’s other oriented and it’s socially prescribed. And I saw how much more nuanced your research was in differentiating between high strivers and perfectionist, as well, as, you know, the adaptive versus maladaptive types of perfectionist. I did take your quiz. I’m totally going to put it in the show notes. Because I thought it was super interesting. So just to tell you, I got 57%, Parisian perfectionist, and then 30% Classic. And then the rest was intense, which I thought was really interesting, huh.



That’s very similar to my profile, except instead of classic, I’m messy in space. So, I steer mostly Parisian, and then, like, 30%-ish mass, and then the rest intense?


Casey McGuire Davidson  08:01

Well, so let’s tell people about five types. So, this makes sense.



Yes. So, I present a whole new way of looking at perfectionism in this book, The perfectionist get to losing control. And one of the things that really bothered me about books I read about perfectionism, when I was trying to understand it more deeply, is that books in the personal development and self-help space all basically echo this message of just don’t be so much of a perfectionist.


And first of all, that message doesn’t work. Because people who identify as perfectionists, identify in that way, deeply. It’s like identifying as a romantic or an activist, it’s not, you know, the same as saying, Oh, I’m kind of tired today, I’m kind of a perfectionist. Today, it’s more of an enduring identity marker.

And secondly, it was all about how to eradicate entirely the idea that you should be striving towards an ideal. And then I noticed a lot of the language was directed towards women. And then I noticed a corollary to the directive towards women to not be so perfectionistic, which is to find balance.


And then I tried my best to look for messages in which men were being told to find more balance, and figure out how to, you know, juggle all the many tasks of the modern day woman, and there just weren’t any. And so, in really looking at the implicit messaging of the word perfectionist, I realized that we use that word to describe ambitious power seeking women in our culture. So, all these directives to be less of that are actually very alarming to me. I get super into that in a chapter I dedicated specifically to the gendered nature of perfectionism. But that is like, the way that I view this contracts from 30,000 feet in the air, and in terms of the specific personality profiles, which can be expressed in healthy ways, adaptive ways, and unhealthy ways.


There are 5 types. And the five types are the classic, and this is what we all sort of tend to think of when we think of the perfectionist, you know, buttoned up rigid. They all, like I said, have advantages, my abilities.


  1. So, the pros of being a Classic Perfectionist are, You’re highly reliable. You know, you’re organized, you infuse structure into every, everywhere you go. The cons are that there can be some interpersonal challenges in terms of feeling taken for granted because everyone knows you’re going to get it done, you’re going to do it and people rely on you to the extent in which they absolve themselves of responsibility to participate sometimes. And there can also be interpersonal challenges because classic perfectionist don’t necessarily love collaboration.


  1. There’s a, “if you want something, well do it yourself” kind of mentality at times. So, the next profile is the Procrastinator Perfectionist and the easiest way to describe this is procrastinator perfectionist want the conditions to be perfect before they start something. And of course, this is never true. And so, the pros of being a procrastinator perfectionist are we’re talking about very thoughtful people, people who are not impulsive people who can see a scenario from a 360 degree angle and play out many iterations of something unfolding. But on the con side, your property of measures past the point of diminishing returns, and they can paralyze you such that you’re not ever actually starting right.


  1. And the counterpart to the procrastinator perfectionist is the Messy Perfectionist and messy perfectionist are in love with starting, they are start happy, as I like to say, and they will start a million projects because they find that beginning rush, intoxicating, and energizing. But messy perfectionists have problems when they hit the middle and the tedium because they want the process to remain as perfect as it was when it started. And that also never happens. And so, you know, messy perfectionists on the pro side naturally enthusiastic, they’re warm, they’re positive. They’re superstar idea generators. On the con side, these are people who, if they’re not managing their perfectionistic tendencies can say yes to a million things and commit to nothing. And this gets dangerous because it creates a false narrative of, Oh, I’m just not disciplined enough. Nobody takes me seriously. I can’t ever follow through on anything. And then that is true. It’s just that you need extra support in the middle, just like a procrastinator perfectionist needs extra support in the beginning.


  1. And then there are Intense Perfectionist. And these are, if you think of the public persona of Steve Jobs, or Gordon Ramsay or James Cameron, these are people who are focused on the end of the process being perfect, so they want the outcom They’re over index, sometimes on efficiency, and they want to get something done. And at times, they can lose sight of the process in the way that gets done. whether other people are being exploited or not or overworked whether they themselves are burning themselves out burning the candle at both ends. And so intense perfectionist have razor sharp focus, it’s like if you want something done, give it to an intense perfectionist, but sometimes they can leave a real wake of drama and dysfunction behind them if they’re not being intentional about how they’re getting to that outcome.


  1. And then lastly, there’s Parisian Perfectionist. And this is a really interesting type of perfectionism because it plays out interpersonally, so we tend to think of perfectionist as high strivers, people who always want upward mobility professionally, for example, whereas Parisian perfectionist, they’re ideal that they’re after is about connection. So, they want ideal connection to others, which oftentimes shows up as wanting to be perfectly liked, but it can also show up as wanting to perfectly like others wanting to be perfectly understood, wanting to perfectly understand themselves, God any kind of connection to anything, they want it to be perfect. And so, the pros of this type are that they have a real live wire understanding of the power of connection. But on the con side, when you’re so focused on being perfectly understood or being perfectly liked, you can sometimes really slip into some toxic people pleasing, or just abandon yourself in this quest to connect to other people, and in doing so you kind of like leave yourself behind.

Casey McGuire Davidson 

Hi there. If you’re listening to this episode, and have been trying to take a break from drinking, but keep starting and stopping and starting again, I want to invite you to take a look at my on demand coaching course, The Sobriety Starter Kit.


The Sobriety Starter Kit is an online self study sober coaching course that will help you quit drinking and build a life you love without alcohol without white knuckling it or hating the process. The course includes the exact step by step coaching framework I work through with my private coaching clients, but at a much more affordable price than one on one coaching. And the sobriety starter kit is ready, waiting and available to support you anytime you need it. And when it fits into your schedule. You don’t need to work your life around group meetings or classes at a specific day or time.

This course is not a 30 day challenge, or a one day at a time approach. Instead, it’s a step by step formula for changing your relationship with alcohol. The course will help you turn the decision to stop drinking, from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.

You will sleep better and have more energy, you’ll look better and feel better. You’ll have more patience and less anxiety. And with my approach, you won’t feel deprived or isolated in the process. So if you’re interested in learning more about all the details, please go to www.sobrietystarterkit.com. You can start at any time and I would love to see you in the course 

Casey McGuire Davidson  15:24

Yeah, and I thought that was super interesting because I, I describe myself as a recovering people pleaser. And I remember going to a therapist when I was like, you know, in my early 30s. I had a little baby. And I was working a big job and totally stressed out also drinking a bottle of wine a night, which, of course, I did not tell my therapist how much I was drinking, and was just, you know, having this conversation about how my boss was asking more and more and more of me, and I was completely spent. And she was like, well, you get to decide how much you give. And I just was like, No, I don’t. Like, it was such a foreign concept to me. I’m like, he tells me what I need. And then I have to give it, or I have to quit, or I’m going to be fired, riled house therapists. Because I’ve had this experience, even though I’m a therapist, I’ve had this experience on both sides of it. As a client, or your therapist says something that is so simple, but something about a combination of the way they said it, and the timing, it just hits you like…


What I remember one thing that my therapist in my 20s told me, that just rocked me to my core, in the same way that you’re describing was, I was talking about a member of my family who was really not in a healthy place. And I was trying to figure out how to connect with them. And I couldn’t and the relationship was dysfunctional. And I was like, how am I supposed to be a therapist, if I can’t even figure out how to have a healthy relationship with this person? And she said, healthy people have healthy relationships with other healthy people. And I was like, oh, and I added to that. Like, healthy people have strained relationships with unhealthy people and unhealthy people have strained relationships with everyone, you know. And it was like, so such a revelation when she delivered that to me. You’re like, How can I fix this?



Yeah. And you’re also wanting to, and this is part of the nuance of control, you know, we think of someone controlling, we think of someone who is being really domineering. But my control showed up in, I’m going to control this person’s level of peace and happiness. And I’m going to make them get better or see this, or, you know, and it’s, I think, it’s a real, really psychologically threatening to absorb how little control we have over our lives. And that’s why we don’t think about it too much. You know. But because we don’t think about it too much, we end up tricking ourselves into thinking we’re in so much more control than we are.


Casey McGuire Davidson  18:02

Yeah, that makes total sense to me. And when you were saying about how therapists can say something, I remember coming home, and like telling my husband like, Oh, my God, my therapist said this today. And he was like, I’ve been saying that to you for five years. And like, How come when someone else says the same thing? You’re like, mind blown.



Yeah, I know. I know. It’s so funny. But you know, it’s interesting, what happens when you really invest the time or the money, or the what was really interesting about being a Google was, this is a tangent, but the clients didn’t pay for therapy. And they didn’t have to commute because I was on site. So, what was really interesting is that so many more people at Google would cancel or no show or show up 20 minutes late, when in my private practice, when you have to get out of work, you know, slept on the subway, pay me do all that stuff. Nobody was ever late, you know, really, and it just so there is I think a psychological. I mean, research backs this up. This thing about when you’re investing in yourself, you are more receptive. Oh, definitely messages that you’re getting.


Casey McGuire Davidson  19:15

Yeah, absolutely. Well, you also talk about, you know, obviously, adaptive versus maladaptive perfectionism. And it was interesting for me to hear about, and I wonder if this is more of the classic perfectionist, because I remember, you know, when you come into a job interview, and you know, the generic question of what’s your biggest fault? And like the safest answer, of course, is like, I’m too much of a perfectionist, sometimes, you know what I mean? Which is like a humble brag. So, when women come to your practice, are they trying to eradicate perfectionism and see it as a negative or does it kind of depends on what type they are.



So, I got a lot of women who were trying to figure out why they couldn’t find balance. Okay? Yeah, that makes sense. And so not just in my private practice that this happened everywhere, I used to have a private practice on Wall Street. And so, I saw a lot of women in big law and finance. And I also used to work at a rehab, I also used to work in residential treatment with kids. And what’s really interesting is that, in all of these clinical contexts, this theme comes up with women, which is, everyone seems to have it figured out of, of how to be rested and look a certain way, and be achieving all these goals, and being tending to your family thoughtfully, and send out the holiday cards and exercise and make your dentist appointment and, you know, buy books from your local bookseller and all this stuff, but I can’t figure it out. So can you help me, and it was like, cleaning a palace with a toothbrush, to go one by one to these women and say, let me tell you what I’ve discovered balance isn’t real, it doesn’t exist. It’s just an idea. And nothing is wrong with you, if you haven’t achieved this easy, breezy, flowing life where everything’s automated, and every Monday looks the same. And every Wednesday, you know, at eight o’clock, you go for a run without fail. And then this happens. And that happens. It’s like, so much happens in life.


We, our lives, are disrupted all the time, by little things like your kid getting sick, or a school, you know, professional development day that you didn’t know about. And you’re like, What do you mean? When you get to, not going to school today. Or big things, you know, like, a health diagnosis or a death in the family or, you know, a hurricane in your corner of the world.


There’s constant disruption, that’s what life is. And yet, all these women were sort of approaching therapy with, like, how do I manage my life and plan for all the disruption so that it’s never disrupted? You know, and really feeling like failures as a result, and also feeling the need to hide that sense of failure? Because what’s going to happen if everyone knows that, you know, I cried myself to sleep last night, or that my partner and I are thinking of, you know, breaking up or whatever it is, you know?


Casey McGuire Davidson  22:35

Yeah, I think that’s so interesting, because I hear that a lot as well. A lot of women who listen to this, a lot of women I work with, are highly successful. Externally, everything looks really good. I mean, CEOs and doctors and lawyers, and you know, also like, perfect stay at home moms of three kids who have graduate degrees, whatever it is, right? Yeah.


And yet, the thing I hear more than often is, I mean, obviously, about drinking. But it translates to everything else, which is, why can’t I drink like a normal person? Followed by, Why can’t I cope, like everyone else does? And I’m like, I talked to so many women, no one is coping.


And I’m also like, if people looked at you, would they know what is going on with you in any way? Like, people probably look to you and think the same thing. You’re thinking about everyone else? Because nobody is being honest. Because they’re so scared. Does that make sense?



Yeah, and I think it’s okay for other people to see you and just make their own decisions about what you are not struggling with. And it’s not our job to go around telling everybody, all the things that are going wrong, right. There’s like, this weird thing happening in the wellness world where authenticity means that you’re sharing your problems constantly with no discretion or boundaries. Like, that’s not what authenticity is. That’s not what vulnerability is. But you’re right. If you are feeling alone in your suffering, because high functioning people are not ever going to get a call from their boss, because they haven’t been at work for four days straight. And nobody knows why they’re showing up.


It’s not that you’re not able to do the things that you say you’re going to do necessarily. It’s that the way that you’re getting them done is damaging you in some way. And maybe that looks like drinking excessively to cope or isolating yourself in some way. And you have to, in those moments, be really honest with yourself about the fact that it’s not going well, and you need some help. And help is something that I think is really tough for everybody to accept that we need.


I have 6 different types of help spelled out in the book, because I think we talked about help as if it’s like this big, huge mountain to climb, when sometimes the help is just one form of help. For example, I just need informational help about X. And, you know, we think of help as therapy and emotionally grueling and the dark night of our soul. And we have to do all of this stuff, when sometimes it’s just like, I need tangible help of, you know, I need somebody to walk my dog three nights a week, can I get a neighborhood kid to do that, you know, and I need this, and I need that. And if you think of help, as this big, huge hurdle to climb, then you wait until you’re ready to climb that before you ask for it. But if you can break help up into little parts, then you can begin to kind of slow drip, help and support into your life in a way that I think people can more easily be ready for. So that it’s not some big dramatic moment of reconciling with yourself. Yeah, and sometimes it can be that and I don’t, I don’t think that’s a bad way.


I don’t think there’s any bad way to get help. But it doesn’t have to be this whole, like, Okay, I need to turn my life around. moment, there’s so much pressure in that, you know, it can be little by little step by step. Incremental ism is, I think, the most powerful way to change.


Casey McGuire Davidson  26:36

Yeah, I always think of that as like the blocking and tackling of what is, you know, making you grit your teeth and get through the day? And how can you alleviate some of that, so you have more space in your life? Can you tell me about the six kinds of help that you have outlined?



Yeah, well, so there’s tangible help. Right. And that is, you know, I have this line in the book of, sometimes we don’t ask for help, because it’s like, for what, what am I going to call somebody and tell them that this is my problem, they’re not going to say anything that’s going to change the way I feel, they’re not going to be able to bring this person back or make me feel better. And so, what’s the point of texting or calling, and the line in the book is like, maybe that’s true. But just because somebody can’t change the way you feel doesn’t mean they can’t come over and clean your kitchen. Like, sometimes help comes in the form that to do lists, stuff that you can’t do. And the fact that you can’t do it is, is broadcasting a message of helplessness to you. Like, the amount of times I’ve listened to people describe their depression and say, like, I don’t know why I just can’t, I can’t put the laundry away, it’s clean. It’s on the, it’s on the chair or whatever, we all have that one place. That’s like, where the file bedroom for me like just shut the door.



Alright, it’s like, I don’t know, I can’t do it. I don’t want and it’s like, well, then you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, ask someone to help you do it. Just say, I don’t know why I can’t do this, can you come over and help me do it? And it’s steps like that. That is like, we’re trying to figure out so much about who we are? And what are the mechanisms at work that are enabling or disabling us from our ability to execute our lives. And it’s like, just don’t overthink it. When you’re in that space where you just need help, just ask for the help, without… you don’t have to understand why. Why you needed in that way. That moment, right. There’s time for all of that later.


There’s obviously emotional support, which is like therapy, active listening, someone who can validate your experience and help you be seen. There’s financial support, which is like, the truth of the matter is, that sometimes you need money to get you through a crisis that you’re in, or some kind of problem that you’re having. And asking for money is loaded for a lot of reasons, particularly for anyone who is in recovery. Because I think a lot of people in that person’s lives, life is burned out by like worrying about, am I enabling your addiction or dysfunction. And so, that helped. There’s community support of just being able to be amongst people who are also going through what you’re going through that in itself is curative. And I think of this as imagine if you know those handy, grabber claw things and an arcade. And someone plucked you up from your beautiful office right now and planted you in a room with 50 people.


I don’t know Casey, what you’re going through in this moment in your life, but I know you’re going through something as I am. As we all are, as is the human experience planted you in a room with 50 other people. They are telling their stories of how they’re also going through that thing. That in itself would be curative for you, that in itself would be helpful. You wouldn’t even have to do anything you know. And so that’s what it means to have community support is to know that you are not alone.


Casey McGuire Davidson  30:18

And by the way, when you are drinking and struggling with moderating or trying to stop or worried about it, that is so helpful. And that can be person that can be online Facebook groups, I have a guide to my absolute favorite one, the BFB on my website, but like we said, I did Holly Whitaker, she’s a friend of yours. I did her Hip Sobriety School when I was 60 days alcohol free, and there were 100 people in there. And just being able to talk about it without judgment. And knowing you’re not alone. I mean, so amazing.



It’s, I think it’s one of the most powerful forces in healing and recovery. And Dr. Kristin Neff, who is to Self-Compassion. With Dr. Brené. Brown is to Vulnerability – she calls that common humanity. And she frames self-compassion as a resiliency building tool that you have to learn to be able to animate in your life. And one of those three legs of the stool of self-compassion is common humanity – is understanding that your problem is not uncommon. It’s so common, and if you knew how common it was, you would, you would just like your shoulders would sink a little bit, you know, and that people really get into a lot of trouble when they feel like nobody can understand how hard I’m working at this. Or how much I don’t want to be this or how much I wish this thing were different.


So, we had informational financial community, emotional, there’s physical support. So, this is like touch. Touch is actually very powerful. And speaking of Dr. Kristin Neff, she calls it her supportive touch technique. And I highlighted in the book, and it is so simple, it’s just touching your hand to your chest. And if you can get under your clothes and touch skin to skin even better, and just allowing your parasympathetic nervous system to feel the power of you, attending to yourself with physical touch. And I don’t think that can be underestimated either, you know, human beings are interdependent species. And we need to talk to each other, we need to be touched, we need to be seen. And that’s really powerful.



And you talked about self-compassion, but also in the book you one of the things that I thought was really powerful and would resonate with the women listening is self-punishment, and numbing, blaming negative self-talk as being sort of the accomplices to self-punishment? Can you talk about why women self-punish or punish themselves as opposed to being compassionate?



Yeah, well, because we don’t understand what it means to be compassionate. And we don’t really value emotional literacy in the United States. And so, we’re like in our 20s, before we hear what boundaries is for, you know, for the first time and, you know, so what does self-compassion mean? Who knows, it sounds like it just means to be extra nice to yourself. It doesn’t sound like a very powerful tool.


Casey McGuire Davidson  33:55

And, like, if you’re self-compassionate, you’re letting yourself off the hook for being a high Stryver. You know what I mean? Right?


You’re somehow not going to achieve what you’re supposed to achieve. If you don’t beat yourself up all the time.



Yes, because we, while we don’t live in a culture which exalts self-compassion for the powerful tool that it is, we do live in a culture which uses punishment as a first response to any missteps, right. So just in so many ways, our culture teaches us, you know, that punishing and making things harder for yourself is the way to get something done. We still. This shocked me. Like, Grit, right? Like, the word Grit.



Now, well, I mean, I know it’s all dependent on whose definition you’re using. But yeah, this it’s this no pain, no gain. idea that the way to really whip yourself into shape is to be hard on yourself. Yes. And you don’t heal yourself by hurting yourself. And what a punishment is, this is how I define punishment is a punishment is creating more pain for yourself. And the reason that you would create more pain for yourself is to motivate yourself to stop doing the thing that you’re doing. And so, we think that pain is the big motivator. And so, the more pain we lay on top of what we’re doing, the more we’re going to get it together and turn it around. And actually, the opposite is true. Because the more pain you’re in, the more isolated you feel. And the more isolated you feel, the more stressed you are. And the more stressed you are, the more your stress response is activated. And when your stress response is activated, your brain is perceiving everything around you in a totally different way than it would perceive if you felt connected and supported. When your stress response is activated, you’re flooded with cortisol and adrenaline.


You’re in a short term solutions oriented mindset instead of being able to get creative and understand long term solutions. And, you know, there’s a therapist, Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, who coined this phrase, broaden and build. It’s her whole theory of like, if you want to broaden and expand and build your life, you need to find a way to feel good. Because we only feel safe enough to make choices that broaden and build when we feel safe and good. And when we punish ourselves, we feel like shit. And we feel like, well, I don’t trust myself, because I just fucked everything up again. Here, I go again. And so, you’re in this punitive relationship with yourself scrambling to try to become a different version of yourself than who you think you are, and just doesn’t work and punishment just lays pain on top of whatever’s there.


I really stress this in the book, that punishment is lazy. Punishment is different than taking accountability. It’s different than discipline. It’s different than experiencing a natural consequence. And it’s different than rehabilitation. All that other stuff that I just mentioned, requires some kind of thoughtful input. About, what did I do? What could I have done differently? What could I do instead? Next time punishment doesn’t care about any thoughtful input, punishment just lays pain on top of whatever’s there.


Casey McGuire Davidson  37:36

Yeah, I think that’s so interesting. Because for years, when I was drinking, and I would wake up at 3am, or I would wake up with a hangover. Literally, the first thought I would have is what the fuck is wrong with you get your shit together. And I know so many women who think these thoughts about themselves or write themselves the meanest notes with the idea of if they are just mean enough to themselves, they will get their shit together and not drink so much. Right?



Yeah, and sometimes the punishment can look less obvious, right? It sometimes it does look like that of what the fuck were you thinking? I can’t believe I did that Nevada. But other times, you know, I use an example in my book. And none of the stories in my book are true stories, because my clients stories do not belong to me. And I’m not going to share them. But they’re based on real feelings and dynamics that came up in the room. And one of them is, the story of Eva. And I used to run this is true. I used to run group therapy at a rehab in Brooklyn. And I ran an early stages of recovery meeting every Thursday night, and the meeting would end at nine o’clock. And two minutes before 9, Eva in the in the book drops. What’s known in the therapy world is a last minute bomb. Last minute bomb is, I’ve heard and yeah, they’re also sometimes called doorknob confessions. It’s when the client that you’re working with drops some pretty dramatic piece of information on you at the last second of a session when there’s not actually time to get into it. And I see them as really positive because it’s like the client is ready to set to say something important, but they don’t want to say it when they have to talk about it. So, they’re just like, drop a bomb, and then they leave.


And so, in this session, Eva says to the group that she has been drinking before the group, she has been drunk the entire group, and she’s planning on leaving after the group to drink some more. And there’s two minutes left in the session. And so, I excuse everybody in the group and her and I sit together, and I asked her after you know are having some other conversation around this, like, what is it that you need right now? Like, what? What is it that you want? What would you do tonight if you hadn’t been drinking, and she says I would just take a hot bath.


She knows what she needs to do to restore herself, she wants to go home, she just wants to take a hot bath. But she has decided that she’s not going to do that. And instead, she’s going to go out and just keep drinking. Because taking a hot bath fits inside the story of someone who’s maybe five years sober, not somebody who came to group therapy, intoxicated. And so, she’s not giving herself permission to do something good and kind and restorative for herself, because she has decided that she’s not worthy of goodness or kindness. And when you decide that what you’re really saying is I deserve to be punished. So, she’s going to do something that she knows is going to make her feel like shit, which is going out and drinking more. And she’s not registering this all in her mind as well. I’m punishing myself. And so, if this looks like that, and we don’t talk to ourselves like that, in our head, she’s registering it as I feel like shit, and I deserve it. And so, that’s what punishment can look like too. It’s just the sense of defeatism and not allowing yourself to do the thing that would make you feel better and good, because you don’t think it doesn’t match your action? You know?


Casey McGuire Davidson  41:32

Yeah, that makes sense. And also, I see a lot of women and myself included, like, if you’re mad at yourself, for doing something again, or waking up with a hangover, or whatever it is, you are so focused on overcompensating that you don’t take care of yourself. Like you’re like, I can’t take a nap. Because XYZ I can’t go get a massage or call a friend because I take a break from work because I don’t deserve it. Because I’m a bad person. And like you said, then they don’t, they aren’t able to restore themselves. So, at the end of the day, they’re so exhausted, that they almost repeat the same behavior.



Yeah, yeah. And it takes a lot of like Dr. Harriet Lerner says. It takes a huge platform of self-worth to be able to acknowledge, whoa, I’ve really made a mistake. Let me look at that mistake and see why I took that messed up and see what I could have done instead and get maybe a little more cushion of support around me, for this takes a really big platform of self-worth to do that. Because you have to think, oh, there’s a version of me that’s not making this mistake. I made this mistake, which is an aberrant example of who I am. That’s not who I am. I am this other bigger, more whole, like, you know, for lack of a better term, like a better version that doesn’t do that stuff. So instead of, you know, getting curious about why did I drink? Why did I do that? You just get suspicious, you’re of yourself. You’re like, Here you go again, I can’t trust you. This is more evidence. And now, you got to tighten up everything. And you address the problem from a place of suspicion and mistrust instead of doing the work of leaning into trusting yourself and being good enough to yourself, so that you can actually restore and hear what you most need.


Casey McGuire Davidson  43:39

Yeah. I mean, one of the things that you wrote in the book about numbing, which I was like, yes, was you wrote that Nami. And of course, I thought of drinking, but I know it can be a million different things, is engaging in an activity that helps you ignore the feelings you don’t want to feel. Unlike taking a break for the purposes of restoration. numbing behaviors are distracting, designed to help you repress your emotions numbing doesn’t make us feel good. It makes us feel nothing. And when it wears off, you still have your pain to answer to because we think drinking whatever it is it, we think it makes us feel good.



Yeah, yeah, you really do. And it’s so confusing. And I have a lot of empathy for past versions of myself and anyone listening right now. That’s like, uh, it does make me feel good. Oh, yeah. The kids go to sleep, or I get home from work or whatever. And that glass of wine is just whatever or you know, I understand that I really do. And at the same time, where you and I are not talking about behaviors as much as we’re talking about patterns, and how those patterns make us feel about who we are and what’s possible for ourselves. And when you’re restoring, when you’re done restoring, you feel better. And if you’re used to numbing as your primary problem solving skill, as your primary way to emotionally regulate, then you’re not used to feeling good after something, you’re used to just like hitting pause. And it doesn’t necessarily make you feel worse, or you don’t have to encounter the feelings immediately.


So, I think a lot of people, in their minds, conflate the two of you. You’re not feeling good, you’re conflating. Not feeling immediately worse, with feeling good. And that’s not the same thing.


Casey McGuire Davidson  45:46

So is that the thing to reflect on, like, after the activity, if it’s restorative, I feel better. And if it’s numbing, I feel the same. How I conceptualize it.


So, I talk a lot about pleasure in the book, because I believe that healing is not about figuring out what to do. It’s about figuring out how to trust yourself. I mean, oftentimes, we know what to do, it’s not that complicated. It’s like eat five fruits and vegetables a day, don’t drink too much, take the stairs, hang out with kind people instead of terrible people. But the reason we don’t trust ourselves is because we don’t have, as women, enough chances to allow ourselves to understand what feels good, and what failed, what doesn’t. This is a product of a lot of socio-cultural stuff, and diet, culture, and bigger issues. But there’s a framework that I use to distinguish between immediate gratification and pleasure.


And that is, if you think of what you’re doing as the event, right, so think of drinking wine as the event. If drinking wine is pleasurable for you, it’s going to feel good. When you drink the wine, it’s also going to feel good as an immediate gratification. But immediate gratification before the event might stir anxiety of like, Oh, I hope I don’t drink more than one glass, or I hope I don’t indulge too much. And immediate gratification after the event also might stir some feelings of remorse or anxiety of like, wish I didn’t do that. That was just like, I could have gone without that second glass, whatever.


Whereas pleasure is a simple, joyful, direct satisfaction. You don’t have that noise before the event. And you don’t have it afterwards. Taking a walk, for example, through the streets of New York City is so pleasurable for me before I take a walk. I’m not like, Oh, I hope I don’t. I hope I don’t take a walk tonight. I just want to be able to get through the night without taking a walk. While I’m taking a walk. It’s pleasurable than after I take a walk. I’m not like, I got to stop taking walks, you got to cut that shit out. You know. I don’t think that way because it was a true pleasure. There’s no noise with pleasure. Immediate gratification is really noisy, they both look the same at the event stage. But you want to look around the event, what you’re actually doing to decide whether this is something that is actually making you feel good, which is pleasurable. Or if it’s just holding you over from feeling like shit, yeah. Which is immediate gratification.


Casey McGuire Davidson  48:33

And you talk about, you know, pleasurable activities, been everything from sleeping or productive, listening to music, washing your car, working to get something done that you want to get done redecorating, playing basketball, like, all those things.



Yeah, we’ve got the idea of productivity all wrong. And there’s again, this big push to be like, don’t over index on productivity and productivity is bad, and rest, rest, rest. And it’s like, of course, rest is essential. Rest is a need, rest is important. But again, who is getting these messages? They are women. And I have alarms going off in my mind when I hear people telling women not to worry about being productive? You know, and the thing is, this is one of the in the book, I have specific tools and strategies and mindsets to kind of re-organize the way you think about a lot of stuff that contributes to perfectionism. And one of those things is productivity.


And I read a life changing article by Tony Schwartz and Catherine McCarthy in Harvard Business Review called Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time. And they were saying that the reason that we don’t do the things that we intend to do is not because we couldn’t find a spare 15 minutes in our schedule. It’s because when that 15 minutes comes, we are so fucking burnt out that we can didn’t even think about doing it. So, we just scroll Instagram for 15 minutes or an hour or whatever we end. So, it’s not that we run out of the time to do things, it’s that we run out of the energy.


So, I frame being productive as doing anything that is going to enable you to operate with premium quality energy. Because one hour of premium quality energy in your day is going to serve you better than five hours spent, approaching a task. rushed, resentful, exhausted, confused, burnt out disconnected, you know, so anything that helps you operate with premium quality, energy is productive, including sleeping, including, you know, cooking, if you love cooking, including taking a walk, including having a great conversation with your friends, including watching something silly on TV that brings you pleasure. And so that’s the way that I think about productivity.


Casey McGuire Davidson  51:01

I love that because when I was in early sobriety, I used to block off an hour if I could, or half an hour on my calendar at work, and go for a walk. And I would actually listen to Holly and Laura McKellen’s home podcast because that was like coming out seven years ago. And I would walk to the water by my office and back. And then I would also put my alarm on before I went to get my kids at daycare to eat something with protein, and I would go to bed really early, like those were three big shifts, because I used to eat lunch at my desk, push through till 5:45, barely get my daughter at work before 6:00pm. Like, the last mother there. And walk into my house starving, all of which, you know, you said with immediate graphic gratification.


The reason people binge on immediate gratification is because they’re burnt the fuck out, right? They’re not managing their energy.



Yeah, and so we’re just trying to find a substitute for pleasure. Because deep down, we know, there’s a part of us that knows, this isn’t how I’m supposed to feel, this isn’t what it’s supposed to be like. And so, we reach for immediate gratification from a place of, like survival almost, you know. And again, I have a lot of empathy for being in that place where you just feel like you cannot catch up to the point where you can actually allow yourself to graduate to a state of experiencing pleasure, you’re just stuck on this loop of immediate gratification. And one of the best ways to switch that paradigm is to not worry about what you need to start doing. More of like, starting that. That sounds so beautiful. What you just described with these simple acts that only you really know how much utility you have in them of taking walks or listening to certain podcasts, but just figuring out what you can stop and close the door on, like, blocking this person on text, or any little thing.


There’s no such thing as a little thing, when it comes to healing. Like, anything you can do on behalf of your most authentic self, meaning, that the you that is really speaking without a filter is going to have a huge impact on your however you want to frame it. Recovery, growth, expansion, peace. You know, there’s no such thing as, as a little thing. Little things are the big things. It’s always so stunning to me when I listen, I’ve been listening to people talk very honestly about how they’ve changed for so long. And it’s always what you just said, it’s like I gave myself permission to take a walk. You know, it’s not that they went on some 21 day retreat, blah, blah, blah, whatever, like a silent retreat in Bali. They don’t talk for 20.



Right, it’s that they incorporated into their daily life, some sense of genuine respite and genuine compassion.


Casey McGuire Davidson  54:18

Yeah, in one section of the book, you write about maladapted perfectionist and I think this could be like every woman I know being perpetually on some kind of a joy diet and you know it makes make so much sense I mean, I’m also like, oh my god I hate diet culture and also what it what it says to women but you link it to like low calorie, intermittent fasting and paleo because it makes so much sense but you said perfectionists are consciously trying to restrict pleasure, as a misguided expression of responsibility. And women struggle because so much to master or control, immediate gratification, they never graduate to pleasure. And I was just like, oh my god, yes. We’re always trying to restrict it like, I should do X. My favorite question is whenever anyone says, I should do X, I’m like, Okay, finish that sentence. What? But what I really want to do is Y. You know what I mean?



Like, I love that. Yeah.


Yeah. I mean, the book asks a question, which is very annoying to be asked. But it is, what do you want? What do you want? Not what’s best for your family? Not what’s best for your relationship? Not what’s best for your career? Like, what do you want? And asking yourself that question can elicit a real deer in headlights response? Because we so often don’t know, as women how to separate ourselves from the roles that we’re in, or from the jobs that we have. And it can be a simple answer. It doesn’t have to be some intense, you know, huge thing it can be I want to sleep more this week, and then just like beginning to ask yourself that question, and believe your answer, and then actually attend to your answer, and build a life around that. That’s the way to move forward, past all the immediate gratification and past the stuckness. And in order to figure out like, what is it that I want? Sometimes, if you don’t know the answer to that, which is common. So, if someone’s listening, and they’re like, oh, no, I don’t even I don’t even, don’t get in the loop of like, I don’t even know what I want, how can I even know that?


Just let me stop you right there and say, part of what helps inform our desires is being able to feel what feels good, and what doesn’t feel good. And if we’re numb, because we’re drinking wine every night, or we’re overworking ourselves, or whatever we’re doing. You can’t tell what feels good and what feels bad. And so, it’s hard to gauge what you want, because you’re turning off an internal system that’s designed to point you in the direction of your desire, which is pleasure.


Casey McGuire Davidson  57:27

So, what I’m hearing from you is like, start small. Women are like, Oh my God, what I want is to quit my job and XYZ, but I can’t because of mortgage kids husband, my boss. Right? And so, starting much smaller with what feels good right now.



Yeah, I think what you what, what you want might have a really big answer. And I would take that answer seriously. I would also take the smaller answer that, again, doesn’t seem consequential and seems like Oh, that’s too little, that’s not going to move the needle.


Yes, it will. Because it’s not what you’re doing. It’s the gesture behind what you’re doing, which is to say, my wants are important and imperative that I deserve to get what I want. And I deserve to lead a life that reflects my desire, and my personhood, not some other version of that. So, when you say what I want right now is really five minutes alone. And then you give yourself five minutes alone, and take yourself seriously, you’re communicating and signaling to yourself that you are important. And those are the muscles that helped build the muscle that then will leave the job or leave the toxic relationship or leave alcohol behind because you have all this other stuff that you actually want and that feels good. So, then the other things can fall away.


Casey McGuire Davidson  58:51

Yeah, I love that. Because you know, when you were also talking about what do you want, obviously, like, when I stopped drinking, I started very small, which is like, I want to feel better. I want to stop self-sabotaging. I want to stop doing this. And you know, I want to take a nap. I want to go for a walk. But I remember a couple years after I stopped drinking, I was at a fortune 500 company and I was talking to my GM, who was, I think some combo of a classic slash intense perfectionist, like, looked amazing. Sent all the emails at 3:00am. Took all these business trips, had two little kids. Like, I was just like, oh my god, you know. How does she do it? And she was talking to me, and I had already been going to code school and she was like, Okay, what do you want? Do you want more scope?



Do you want more impact? Do you want more people under you? And I literally was like deer in the headlights, and I looked at her and I said I want to be a life coach. And she was like I’ve never seen her stunned into silence before in my life. Like, the minute they gave out, it was like, Holy fuck. What did I just do? I felt like I was like this wolf who like, chewed off its arm to like I was like, Yeah. And I went back to my desk, and I told my coworkers who all knew I’d gone to coach, she had no idea I’d got to coaching school. And I was like, well, like they were cried so hard. They were laughing at it like, holy.



Yeah, no, I can see it’s still like stuff. It’s still like, it seems emotional in some way for you. And I’m so glad you share that story. Because saying aloud, even if you only say it to yourself what you want, as opposed to like letting it echo in your mind, letting an echo in your mind, if that’s what you can do. I’ll take it that works. But if you see it aloud, even just to yourself, something happens that I can’t explain. And if you say it in front of another human being, like all other situation, but something magical, some kind of alchemy occurs when you let the words of what you most want to hit the air, changes something in a way that I can’t articulate or explain. But I know is true.



So, I could talk to you all day, I think everyone should get the book. It’s called the perfectionists guide to losing control a path to peace and power. But I wanted to end on one of the parts of the book I love, and I feel like it goes throughout it. You talk very clearly about what you love about perfectionists, why you’re drawn to them in a really positive way, especially when they’re able to harness that in a way that’s adaptive and good. Can you tell me what’s awesome about perfectionists?



Yeah, I think if I had to use one word to describe perfectionist, it would be contributors. Like perfectionist, see an ideal and they see the reality plunked down in their labs. And there’s something compulsive in them, an active, wanting to bridge that idea and kind of contribute to a cause bigger than themselves, right. And when we’re talking about adaptive perfectionism, we’re talking about a level of connectedness with yourself and your community, and something you very much believe in. And it’s rare that people really believe in a thoughtful, conscious way, things that are shallow, right. And so, whatever your ideal is, as a perfectionist, whether that’s connectedness with others, or creating beauty and calm around you, whatever it is, that desire to contribute is, I think, so inspiring to be around.


And it’s not I hate saying, it’s not a bad thing, because to me, it’s like the opposite. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s an expression of something you want to create that is intangible that you know, you can’t have adaptive perfectionists are not unintelligent people, they understand things can’t happen perfectly all the time. It’s about being able to, you know, if we, if we look at the root of perfection, you get to the Latin word purpose there per complete and fussier do.


And when we say something is perfect, what we mean is, It’s complete, its whole. That’s why you say, oh, that that person is perfect stranger, you don’t mean they’re a flawless stranger. You mean, this is a complete stranger to me. And so, what perfectionist are really after I discovered is a sense of wholeness, and connection to that wholeness and the energy that comes from really being in touch with that and animating it out in the world.


When people describe perfect moments to me. They’re never describing the material. They’re always actually ironically being like; it shouldn’t have been perfect. It was raining. I spilt this thing all over my dress and did it up, but it was perfect. And when people describe to me moments that should have been perfect but weren’t. They’re describing stuff that is superficially perfect in a state where they felt in an internal fracture, where they did not feel whole where they lost sight of their completeness, you know, and so, to me, the most powerful thing that I got out of exploring this construct which is so kaleidoscopic and unending is that perfectionists want wholeness, and they want to bring wholeness to life. They don’t really care about flawlessness. flawlessness is the shortcut you take to wholeness, when you’re in a maladaptive space, and we all know, shortcuts don’t work, you know. And so that’s really how I view perfectionism is just this contribution and celebration of our own wholeness that we already have.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:05:04

Yeah. I feel like that’s the perfect place to leave this. Can you? I know people are going to want to learn more and follow up and take the quiz, because it’s super interesting. I, actually my mother-in-law, is 75 years old. And she read this book before I did. And I underlined it. She was staying with me and like, she’s a messy perfectionist. So, I just thought we had great conversations about it. But where can people find you and follow up?



So, I’m on Instagram @katherinemorganschafler, and if you want to take the quiz, it’s perfectionistguide.com.


Or you can go to my website, which is also my name, katherinemorganschafler.com.


And the book is, The Perfectionist’s Guide To Losing Control, a path to peace and power. And it’s out now. On audio, hardcover, Kindle, wherever you buy books, whatever kind of books you buy. I love it when you read it.



Everyone told me it would be really hard, but I was like, writing the book is hard reading not harsh.


Casey McGuire Davidson  1:06:12

That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate.



It’s my pleasure. I love to this talk. Thank you.


Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more. 


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