Podcast Interview: Understanding Perfectionism

Understanding Perfectionism on the Therapy Chat Podcast

Recently I had the honor of being interviewed on the Therapy Chat podcast.  Therapy Chat is hosted by Laura Reagan, LCSW-C, a psychotherapist in the Baltimore area and a fellow “recovering perfectionist”. Laura and I had an amazing conversation all about my favorite subjects: perfectionism, codependency, anxiety, and worthiness.

therapy chat logo

You can listen to the episode here:

Episode 28: Understanding Perfectionism

Be sure to listen all the way to the end for my special freebie!

Letting go of perfection

Perfectionism is a shield. It’s an attempt to cover up your flaws and missteps. It’s like armor that you put on to protect yourself from criticism. It prevents others from seeing who you really are. You keep your vulnerabilities hidden by trying to appear like you’ve got it all together.

Underneath perfectionism is a deep sense of being unworthy. You have to continually prove your worth by achieving more, doing more, being perfect. And you’ll always fail because you can never be perfect. Perfectionism leaves you feeling empty, alone, and unlovable.

Letting go of codependency

As a codependent, you’re overly concerned with trying to change, fix, rescue, and please others. Your self-worth is based on being needed and making others happy. Your relationships are out of balance and the focus on other people’s needs leaves your needs neglected. You grow resentful. Your life feels out of control and I feel afraid and anxious.

Letting go of anxiety

As you try to let go of perfectionism and people-pleasing, and reveal your true self, you get uncomfortable. Other people are unhappy with the changes you’re making. Your anxiety rises. And the quickest way to relieve the anxiety is to put your armor back on. You feel comfortable beneath the cover of perfectionism and people-pleasing.

As you can see, letting go of perfectionism and codependency, often means increased anxiety in the short-term. A counselor or mental health professional can be helpful in learning to manage your anxiety. This is a critical step because if your anxiety takes over, you’ll revert back to old behavior patterns.

I hope you’ll take time to listen to my interview on Therapy Chat to learn so much more about how perfectionism, codependency, anxiety, and worthiness intersect.

Learn more:

What Is Codependency?

What Is Perfectionism?


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Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in Northern California, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.


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