Perfectionism vs healthy striving

In Episode 6 of the Burnout Recovery Podcast, Dr Jo Braid shares the thoughts and feelings someone with a perfectionist mindset might experience. How this way of thinking can hamper what we go for, when we finish our notes, or contribute to a discussion.

She then shares how someone who adopts a healthy striving attitude might think and feel, and from this expansive, curious and fun mindset what journey they may thrive on.

Finally Jo shares 3 ways to absorb praise you may not have come across before. Bust that negativity bias in your brain and celebrate your successes.

Hosts & Guests

Dr Jo Braid


Podcast Transcript

Hi, my name is Dr. Jo Braid and I am the Burnout Recovery Doctor. I help health care professionals overcome burnout and get their energy back. So whether you’re a med student, allied health professional, or a doctor who is suffering from feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, you’re in the right place. In this podcast, you’ll get your energy back through strategies for burnout recovery. This show will give you the practical tips and mindset strategies to help you recover from burnout in health care. 


Are you ready? Let’s dive in. 


Welcome to episode six of the Burnout Recovery Podcast. It’s less than four weeks until the festive season is upon us. How’s that going for you? Do you feel like you just want it to be over so the stress goes away? Well, what if you don’t have to wait until then you are in charge of your thoughts and feelings and you don’t have to give your power away to a certain date in the year. If you want to be in charge of what might increase your overwhelming dread. I can help. You could experience Christmas and all the get togethers in a different way of your choosing. I’ve got space in my one on one coaching schedule. To get started book a free no obligation consult call with me via my website, and we can get started. 


This week, I have a few stories that illustrate the concept of perfectionism compared with healthy striving. Perfectionism is a character trait that can contribute to imposter syndrome, which is termed a collection of feelings of inadequacy despite evidence to the contrary. So imposter syndrome is 10 to 20 times worse or more common in females and under represented groups who might have a common thought of I don’t belong as instilled by the culture around them. 


So look, how does this relate to burnout? Well, people can become resentful waiting for the culture to change. They might overwork trying to hold themselves up to a standard that no one like them has meant. And they may stop going for leadership positions or promotions they are skilled for because they distrust their success. In essence, people who have impostor syndrome have an overactive inner critic. The narrative in their head is busy with its negativity bias, discounting their successes along the way. 


Here’s a fresh example I would like to share with you. So yesterday we had a studio concert at the orange Conservatorium of Music. All the students have Lisa Stewart, who teaches violin and Steph and you who teaches Viola were invited to perform in front of other students and their families. It was a really warm, welcoming space where all levels were encouraged to play. So I play first violin in an amateur String Quartet. We are called the moderators because well that says at all. We have performed several times over the past two years since we formed including a concert earlier this year at a local vignette, which went really well. So yesterday, we were performing the vortex American String Quartet second movement lento it beautiful and haunting, nostalgic piece, with violin and cello solos supported by the middle voices second violin and viola. Of course, we practised individually and together and it sounded really great. Yet walking on the stage. My nerves showed up for the performance too. I had done a pep talk meditation at home, and a gentle inversion yoga pose to prepare. Yep, sweaty hands, bouncing bow and release of discomfort on the stage showed up as it does every time. I guess I just know that this is part and parcel of performance. My sneaky brain reminded me of the parts I thought didn’t go so well. And focused on that rather than the wonderful melodies that are woven throughout the piece. I played back the video and it was definitely better than I have chosen to remember it every time. 


So what’s the difference between perfectionism and healthy striving? 


Well, really, we can talk about the two different mindsets that each person or each mindset might have. So here are a handful of common thoughts that a perfectionist might have. I’ve got to do it right. I can’t let them see me struggle. I can’t go home until the work that Note that medical record, the practice is perfect. So we know that our thoughts create our feelings which drive our actions and therefore get our results. The feelings that are perfectionist might have include fear, inadequacy, doubt, shame, resentment, a closed mindset that holds one bank, and the actions that they might take, might be taking longer to complete something than necessary, or practising it again and again and again, or pulling back and not offering your ideas forward for fear of getting it wrong. I’m sure some of you can, you know, identify with this and relate to some of this, or maybe something that you’ve seen in others around you. Pretty common in medical culture. 


So let’s find out about what someone with a healthy striving might healthy striving approach might be thinking of. So their thoughts might include, I want to try a new way. I’m here to get it right not to be right. Let’s see what happens if dot dot dot. The feelings that might come from these thoughts could be curiosity, abundance, wholeheartedness. Fun, or growth. So really, you can see the healthy striving mindset has an open mindset to exploration and change. Yesterday, for example, for the very first time, I chose to use my iPad and Bluetooth foot pedal page turner on stage. And one of my questions was, will this work? My thought was I’m ready to give it a go. And I had a feeling of, you know, fun. I know, I can flick the page over with my finger. If the foot pedal doesn’t work. You know what, it worked absolutely fine. 


So does this list of thoughts and feelings in both examples highlight to you, when you can relate to being in a perfectionist? 


First thing, a healthy, striving mindset? Here’s a final short exercise to support you in absorbing praise. So people with perfectionist traits and impostor syndrome may find it hard to accept praise. Here’s a way to turn that around. First of all, bring your last compliment to mind. What feeling do you have in your body when you think of it? So yesterday, there were a lot of compliments after the performance in the Conservatorium. I guess the feeling that I have in my body is gratitude, and a bit of pride. And I have a warm glow in my solar plexus area. 


Question two, what do you know is the specific strength that you use to create this result for yourself? So, again, in this example, I have years of playing the violin and really enjoy embracing the creativity to provide entertainment for others, and also myself. 


And question three, remind yourself and reminisce on this moment, as many times as possible. Hey, this isn’t a question. This is a reminder. Each time you do this, you are shrinking the negativity bias against yourself. 


That’s it for this week, we’ve gone through how somebody with a perfectionist mindset might be thinking and feeling and somebody who can do healthy striving, how they might be thinking and feeling, giving you a short little toolkit for absorbing praise. 


Thanks so much for listening in. If you like what you heard, please rate and review it. It really helps others find the burnout recovery podcast and the content I share. See you next time. Thank you for tuning in to the burnout recovery podcast. If you liked what you heard, please hit subscribe and head on over to my website at There you can download my free guide with 10 tips to take if you’re nearing burnout. See you next time!