Unwiring Perfectionism + How Flexible Thinking Can Help Reduce Anxiety & Stress (With Poppy Jamie)

In this podcast (episode #287) and blog, I speak with Poppy Jamie, founder of Happy Not Perfect, a popular podcast and meditation app for anxiety. We discuss everything from understanding anxiety and the importance of self-compassion to the link between the mind, brain and body and how to own and manage panic attacks and anxiety.

In her new book, Happy Not Perfect, Poppy talks about her own experiences with mental health and why we need to manage our perceptions of our own mental health. As she points out, there is an important difference between “flexible” and “stiff” thinking when it comes to mental health. If we feel that “this” is just the way we are and that we will never learn how to manage or heal our mental health, then we will be more likely to stay “stuck”. If, however, we have what Poppy calls “flexible thinking” (which may take time to learn), then we will be more open to finding ways to manage and heal our mind and we will see that it is possible to move on from where we are in life. This kind of thinking gives us the ability to choose how we want to respond to any given situation—we don’t just have to be pushed this way and that by life’s challenges. 

Indeedwe don’t have to wait till our problems are “bad enough” to seek mental health help. All of us deserve to live happy, fulfilled lives, and all of us battle at times to achieve this. There is no shame in seeking out help when we need it.We should never invalidate our own reality or compare our own mental health experiences to other people’s traumas. Pain has no hierarchy. Being human means struggling with your mental health. We all deserve to have our story heard and get the help we need. 

And, as soon as we acknowledge how we feel and start finding ways to manage our emotions, our emotions actually become more manageable, mentally and biologically! Research has shown that talking or writing about how we feel really can help us move through our emotions. If we just try to suppress how we feel, our emotions will eventually explode, possibly affecting other areas of our life. We all need to give ourselves permission to embrace our feelings AND to have “recovery time” after small and big stressors, even if this is something as commonplace as moving homes. 

As Poppy points out, we need to identify with our emotions, not become them. We may be experiencing depression, but we are not just a depressed person—this is not the sum total of who we are. 

This is especially true for people who seek perfection (like myself!). Perfectionists, overall, completely overestimate what they can do in a given time period, and this is often tied to people pleasing. By constantly saying yes to someone else, we are often saying no to ourselves and what we need, which can impact our mental wellbeing.

We also need to seek out ways of managing our mental health that works for us. Meditation is not necessarily the cure for everything, for example. Sometimes, it can even be really unhelpful! A better way to approach mental health struggles is to understand how our mind works and the specific, toxic core beliefs that shape the way we understand and perceive the world, which is the basis of our psyche.

We all need to get curious about our core beliefs. What shapes the way we perceive and interact with the world? How do these beliefs impact us? Do we need to challenge any of the core beliefs we have developed over the years?

And, as Poppy notes, when it comes to mental health, we shouldn’t just focus on everything that can go wrong with our brain. We also need to recognize how incredible our mind and brain are, how they can grow, change and heal, and how they want to protect us and work for us. 

Often, we spend so much time creating our worlds that we forget that we need to spend time adapting to what we have created. We can start doing this by developing flexible thinking, which is based on what Poppy calls in her book “the four c’s”:

  1. Connection: taking the time to connect with how you feel and with your body.
  2. Curiosity: questioning yourself (especially your inner critic!) and your world. How does a thought you have make you feel? How do you speak to yourself? How much suffering is created in your mind? What lies are you believing about yourself? 
  3. Choice: recognizing that change only happens when you really want it to. True change comes from within.
  4. Commitment: committing to your highest self and knowing where you are going. What do you want your best future to look like?

For more on managing anxiety and mental health struggles, listen to my podcast with Poppy (episode #287), and check out her podcast, app and new book! If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).

This podcast was sponsored by:

BetterHelp, an amazing company that can assess your needs and match you with your own licensed professional therapist so that you can start communicating in under 48 hours! BetterHelp is not a crisis line, it’s not self-help…it is professional counseling done securely online! They also have a broad range of expertise available which may not be locally available in many areas, and their services are available for clients worldwide. Visit betterhelp.com/drleaf, and join the over 1,000,000 people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced professional. In fact, so many people have been using BetterHELP that they are recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states! I am proud to say that this podcast is sponsored by BetterHelp, and Cleaning Up the Mental Mess listeners get 10% off their first month at betterhelp.com/drleaf.

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NED, a company that makes the highest quality, organic, full spectrum CBD based on the latest science. I take NED’s CBD daily, and have honestly seen a difference in my sleep quality and mental health!  To get 15% off your first order and free shipping visit helloned.com/drleaf or use the code DRLEAF at checkout.

Podcast Highlights

2:40 Why Poppy created the Happy Not Perfect podcast & app 

4:00, 35:00 The difference between flexible & stiff thinking 

11:40 Why we should never compare our traumas to other people’s mental health struggles

13:30 The importance of acknowledging, not suppressing, how you feel 

14:50 Why you should give yourself permission to have a “recovery day/week/month” after small & big stressors

15:42 The dangers of perfectionism

16:30 Why Poppy wrote her book Happy Not Perfect

17:00 Why meditation doesn’t work for everyone

20:50 The dangers of black & white thinking

28:55 Why we need to examine & challenge our core beliefs

38:30 Why we should be changing! 

39:40 The importance of connection, curiosity, choice & commitment 

48:00 Choosing between fear & love

This podcast and blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional. 

Switch On Your Brain LLC. is providing this podcast as a public service. Reference to any specific viewpoint or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by our organization. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. If you have any questions about this disclaimer, please contact info@drleaf.com.

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