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Episode 116: Overcoming Perfectionism, Busyness and Complaining with Ashlee Livingstone

Brief summary of show:

In this episode, Ashlee Livingstone joins me to talk about perfectionism, being overly busy, and why we complain.

A combination of energy, creativity and passion Ashlee is often described as a bit of a firecracker and a great listener who creates amazing opportunities for her clients to get real and share. After working for years with leaders and teams both in the non-profit and for-profit Ashlee has seen how a lack of self leadership can hold people back.

Ashlee has developed the skill of understanding people, having great insight into what they aren’t saying and where they are struggling to help them make shifts towards better harmony.

After her own personal growth journey, Ashlee has taken her passion for creating time freedom, self leadership and, her experience curating the life she wants to help others who are struggling with a lack of clarity, time, boundaries, burnout and blocks become more empowered, less stuck and finally in control of their lives.

Listen in as we talk about:

  • [2:05] Why we set 'perfection' standards for ourselves

  • [3:05] Do we realize we're holding onto perfection?

  • [5:35] How to set boundaries and protect your space

  • [9:45] Practicing self leadership

  • [13:35] Finding fault and complaining

  • [15:05] Why we overbook ourselves and make ourselves busy

  • [21:10] Getting comfortable with being alone

Notes from Natalie:

Connect with Ashlee

Connect with Me

View Transcript for this Episode

Natalie: Stop avoiding and start reaching your best. Overcoming perfection, boundaries, complaining and busyness.

Natalie: Hi everyone, it's Natalie. Welcome to the show Today. Today we're talking about the things that hold you back. Why we limit ourselves often without even knowing it, and how to get the most out of your life.

Why do we wait for someone else to tell us how or what to do with our lives? My guest is Ashley Livingstone. Ashley works with leaders and teams in both nonprofit and the. For-profit Worlds. She's an expert on helping people become empowered, less stuck, and finally in control of their lives. She's also an expert on the nervous system and breath work, which we will discuss as well.

If you're new to the podcast, I'm thrilled that you're here. Take a minute to stop by my website and join my newsletter where I talk all about topics related to your health. Family, faith and happiness, you'll find Okay, let's not waste any time. I wanna get right to my interview with Ashley on getting to the next level of your life.

Ashley, thanks for joining today, and these are topics that apply to everyone, no matter where you are, what age you are, where you work, these limiting beliefs that we have.

Ashlee: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I'm, I'm excited for this conversation. I'm ready to do

Natalie: this. Okay, so some of the things I, I wanna go over with you today that you talk a lot about with your clients.

Things like overcoming perfection. We set these standards for ourselves. Let's

Ashlee: start with that. Yeah, I think perfection. So perfection is one of those words, or the word perfect has been banned from my house. It's, it's worse than some of the swear words out there because I have realized as I have grown and aged and worked and lifed, that perfection is one of those, my kryptonite, it keeps holding me back.

From actually doing a good job, or it holds me back from believing that what I did was enough. Yeah. And I get confused sometimes on did I create this or was this just the life, the society, the world in which we've all been raised that good enough actually isn't good enough.

Natalie: Do you think that people, when we talk about perfection, do you think in general people realize they're holding themself to that standard?

Because I would often say, well, I don't expect myself to be perfect, but then I get mad at myself when it's not at a certain

Ashlee: level. Yeah, definitely. I think this is one of the biggest challenges I find when I'm speaking with my clients is they don't know that they're struggling with perfectionism until I start pointing it out.

You know, we can see it show up in, you know, having to constantly overed. Or tweak your outfit just one more time. Mm-hmm. Make the perfect snack for your kid. Maybe it's the higher, the perfect employee. It, it shows up in a lot of different ways and some people see it as, no, I'm just, I'm, I have high expectations and that's okay.

Yeah. Or I'm just doing my due diligence, or I want it to be good for other people. There is that underlying feeling in there where perfection is showing up that Yeah, if you don't do those things, what might happen? Yeah. What might people believe about you? What might you believe about yourself? If you don't put on the face, you don't, you know, overed, you don't give it one more go.

And it ends up just being an all-consuming weight on your shoulders.

Natalie: Yeah. Some of the other things. I wanna, I wanna hear from you that you work with people on that, those things we maybe don't identify as the problem like perfectionism, but it is what's holding us back. What would some of those things be?

Ashlee: Oh, I think it's, well, our limiting beliefs for sure. I think we have these, you know, I like to call 'em our little gremlins that are whispering to us about, oh, don't do that. What are people going to think? Or, oh, you're gonna quit your job. Why, why would you risk that? Or can you do it on your own? So those limiting beliefs, like really paying attention to what you are actually saying to yourself, first of all the other big thing I struggle with my clients on is setting boundaries of, you know, not necessarily trying to please everyone.

But focusing on what are your priorities and how do you create some boundaries around protecting that space?

Okay, so

Natalie: give me some examples with this, because I see this in my own life that I've worked on it. I see it in so many people. We're so worried about what other people think or pleasing them or, but give me some examples of healthy boundaries and how we can set them.

Ashlee: Yeah. So I'll give you, I'll give you a work related one. So I work with a lot of leaders, and they have this notion that a good leader has an open door policy, okay? Mm-hmm. So you have an open door policy, your door is always open. Guess who is constantly popping in to your door? Everyone. Everyone is popping in.

And one of the biggest complaints I hear from leaders is, I don't have time to get any of my work done. I am constantly being interrupted. So this is your, your belief that as a good leader, I must have an open door policy, but the reality is, is that you're not getting anything done. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. So a boundary that I work with leaders on is closing your door and setting a couple of hours.

A day maybe that you have an open door policy. These are now my office hours, so if it's from 11 to 12, every day that your door is open or someone can book a meeting with you, that's your, that's the time they can interrupt you and you plan for that time in your calendar. And guess what happens from eight 30 till 11?

You get a lot done. You get a lot done, and people solve their own problems. Mm

Natalie: mm. So

Ashlee: you're actually being a better leader because now you're not rescuing everyone and solving everyone's problems for them. You are moving your work forward. And so are they.

Natalie: This is also like when, when I apply this to motherhood Yes.

Or to your re other relationships. We think we need to be at one's beck and call. And yet doing that we're enabling. So we can apply this to, to just about everything. Obviously with younger kids, whatever you need to be available to them, but encouraging people to solve their own problems. I love

Ashlee: that because one thing though that I find we struggle with, and this is where that perfection comes in, okay?

So it circles back is what happens if people don't need us. Yeah. What does that, how does that make us feel? That someone is capable of doing it themselves. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. What, what value are we attaching to our ability to solve things for people or help people or rescue them? And I see this a lot in leadership, and I do see this in motherhood, and this is something I struggle with as well.

You know, my, my 10 and a half year old son stumbles out of his bedroom every morning. Plops himself down at the kitchen table, and I was just making his food and putting it in front of him. And this, most of the time he would like grunt at me and then I was like, what am I doing? He is, he can make his own

Natalie: breakfast.

Yeah. Oh, I do the exact same thing. Even setting the alarm. Go back one step, like I've realized like, wait a minute, why am I waking him up every day? Mm-hmm. He needs to learn to wake himself up, set an alarm, and hold yourself accountable. I do the exact same thing. Yes. Making his lunch in the morning. I know every mom can relate to this.

That if they are

Ashlee: capable, that's feel valuable. It makes us feel valuable. That's right. Yeah. And our, our value is attached to what we do for other people, hence our struggle with perfectionism.

Natalie: So, All of this applies to motherhood, it applies to our work environments, our nonprofits, all of this. But let's talk about I love this concept that, that you give of, you can't be a good leader or good mom or any of these things if you haven't practiced self leadership.

Mm-hmm. And so, g, give me more on that and how we can build that so that we can be better for everyone else in our life.

Ashlee: Yeah. I think a trend that I was starting to see in the work I was doing, you know, all these businesses and all these leaders were investing in skills training. You know, learn marketing, learn communications, effective communications, negotiation skills all of these trainings, right?

We are just consuming training after training, after training. Yeah. But when you are not focused inward, if you are not filling yourself up and learning what, what triggers you, what makes you happy, what makes you feel confident? Mm-hmm. What makes you feel anxious when you're not doing that Internal exploration.

It doesn't matter how many skills you have, your reactions are likely going to be the same. Your trigger points are likely going to be the same. You can go and do Brene round's, dare to be great, you know, leadership training. But if you haven't healed and done the inner work, you're still going to have the same outcome.

Yeah. So I'd like to go back and have people start to develop that emotional intelligence. Right. Why are you triggered by that? You know, you're, my son sits down at the table and complains about breakfast. Why? Why is that triggering to me? Get curious. I love to encourage people to start by being curious with themselves because then you can start to be curious about other people.

I wonder why they're reacting that way. Right? And that helps you become a better leader when you can lead with curiosity rather than reaction and judgment. Yeah.

Natalie: So use your son as the example. You're curious, why do you not like the breakfast that I just put in front of you and I worked so hard? You give me more on how that might be the example and then how we can put that into a professional environment.

Ashlee: Yeah. So I do this right? I make his breakfast and I put it down and it's not, his egg isn't the way he wanted his egg, and my first reaction is he's ungrateful. He's spoiled. He's ungrateful. But my curiosity is, what is it that you don't like? Or did something happen? Why are you reacting this way? Right?

It's more about him than it is about me. Mm-hmm. Right? What happened? Or asking him, you know, how do you like your egg? Or would you like to try it? Can you show me? How you want it. So that's the, the enabling in a coaching perspective, right? So instead of being this like rescuer who then feels, you know, all sad and like, wow, I'm unappreciated.

I'm not valued on this, I'm that. It's more of a what's going on with them? Mm-hmm. Why, why is he having this reaction? Mm-hmm. Which is, What do they need to, to get to a different place? Yeah. Right. Why? Why is he not saying thank you? Or you know, what is it? Did we miscommunicate somewhere along the lines. So those are the types of questions.

And trust me, it can get exhausting and I feel like there's always a lesson in it. Yeah. Yeah.

Natalie: Right. And same in a work environment. I know it, for me as a teacher in my school and my teammates just asking the question, sometimes brings it around to people where they, they have a self realization of, oh, maybe I don't care about that.

Or maybe I am complaining a lot, which is the next topic I, I wanna get to is the habits we have.

One of which is often just finding fault or complaining. Instead of looking past that and moving to the next thing. Yeah.

Ashlee: I think for me, complaining. Complaining is still a sticky spot for me, and I think it's because I've just done it, right?

Mm-hmm. There's complaining, you can always find someone complaining, oh yeah, there is a, and you can add

Natalie: to it. There's always, yes, plenty to complain about,

Ashlee: and it's easy to get sucked into it. Mm-hmm. So one of the habits that I am practicing is when I hear someone complaining, instead I of joining in, I ask for what is the outcome you're looking for?

What makes this a better situation for you? Mm-hmm. Or how would you change things? So again, with the those curious questions, and oftentimes people are then. Typically I get, well, I don't know. It's not my job. Right. Yeah. So it's not your job. Yeah. Yeah. Right. What do you think they're thinking or, yeah, as soon as you challenge people to have to come up with a solution, instead of just being part of the complaining, I find people tend to back away.

Natalie: Same in the family scenario.

Ashlee: Mm-hmm. Yeah, I think it's you know, even with my son, I'll, you know, again, it's the complaining about something like, okay, well how would you do it differently? And then they usually get nothing.

Natalie: Yeah,

Let's talk about, um, busyness. You my to-do list, I could show you.

It's so long and I could use it as an excuse every day, but sometimes I just have to step back and go, I've done this to myself. I've made myself

Ashlee: busy. Yeah. I think we all make ourselves busy, so that's the first step of realizing that. I think that, again, this busy comes along with our value and, and the attachment we're putting on output.

If I can show everyone all the things I did, do I get a gold star, star for it. Do I get acknowledgement? Do I get someone to commiserate with? What, what is the purpose of sharing how busy you are? that's what I don't understand. You know? Now we're getting to this place. I don't know about you, but I often ask people, I'm like, how are you?

I asked someone today, how was your weekend? And they said, busy.

Natalie: Like, that's not, it's a response. Even if they weren't busy, we're just used to saying that. Oh, so busy.

Ashlee: And, and I think this is part of that, that perfection of and, and value of I'm doing things, therefore I'm valuable. Mm. See my value. And deep down, I think that so many of us are just scared.

Of being alone with our thoughts or being alone, being bored. Or what if, what if people don't need us? What if I didn't have a busy to-do list? Then what? But isn't the goal for so many, I'll even say entrepreneurs or even mothers. The goal is that free space, isn't it? That's what everyone's craving.

Yeah. I started my business so that I could. Spend time with my family on my terms and have freedom, time freedom, and financial freedom. So when I get caught up in the busyness, I'm actually going against everything I wanted. Yeah. Yeah. So there's a value attachment to being busy that I think we all need to recognize and say there's actually more value with that freedom to be free with your time and choose how you're spending it.

Natalie: I would challenge people to catch yourself when you say, I'm so busy, or like you mentioned, how are you busy to stop yourself, come up with a different answer and to actually tell people when you have had downtime, how was your weekend?

It was relaxing, you know, to challenge yourself as to say that, so that you make that your goal. Mm-hmm. Instead of, I, I think you're right. We, we value busyness for some reason because it makes us feel like we are more important.

Ashlee: Yeah. Especially. I find women do this a lot, and we're told that we wear a lot of hats and we do, and we're often praised for How do moms do it all?

Mm-hmm. we ourselves get caught up in this, this busyness story and this validation that comes with it. And I'm, I'm not by any means saying we don't do a lot, but we can create space for ourselves. And if you want to feel less stressed and less overwhelmed and maybe some less resentment towards how full your calendar is, you know, I try and avoid using that word busy.

And I'll say, today I have a full day. That's great. Mm-hmm. I have a full day today. Or this weekend's going to be a full weekend. What do we all family need to do to pull together to manage this full weekend? Yeah. cuz we've made these choices. And I think that's,

Natalie: that's a really good point because if you've prioritized time with your family, time to relax, outdoor activities, whatever those things are, that that can still be busy.

You can call it busy if you'd like, because you've prioritized different things. Mm-hmm. So to set your priorities and, and that can be full, but it's not all work,

Ashlee: work, work, work, work. Exactly. And it doesn't have to all be just. Shuffling one kid to the next thing, to the next thing, to the next thing. You know If that is a priority and a choice you've made, embrace it.

Today, it was a full day being a mom. Yeah. Today I spent time with my kids in the car and I connected with them that way. The one piece that. I felt hesitant, you know, to share with people my downtime and, and I'm getting better at it because I spend a lot of time alone. I have a ton of alone time and I love it.

And my, my partner is a shift worker, so I have a lots of time when they're working. My son has lots of things going on. I get, there are some nights where I get like a Friday, Saturday night by myself. Okay. And I know, so most people though, when I say this, I met with a must be nice. Hmm.

Natalie: Oh, almost like the dig making you Yeah.

Making you feel guilty

Ashlee: about it. Yes. No, and I resisted for a while sharing that. Hmm. Or when I have started my business and I take a random Tuesday off to go do whatever I wanna do. Because I've created my business that way. I am met with some like Hmm. Must be nice. Hmm. And my response now is, it so is

Natalie: That's great.

You wanna learn how really, really is. Do you wanna know how, because that's how I teach people. Yeah. I love that. Do you

Ashlee: wanna know how I did it? Yeah. It takes some self prioritization, takes some quiet time. It takes prioritizing your, your top goals. And setting boundaries to protect that space.

Natalie: I heard you say something that I wanna, I wanna touch on here as before we wrap things up and, and that is being comfortable being alone because it seems to me that a lot of people, once they have, they get so busy that then once they do have that alone, they have anxiety over that.

Over I now, I don't know what to do with myself. I've been guilty of this in the past and I hear it in other people. So when you have that space, you've created space, and now you're like, okay, I created this space for myself, but I don't know what to do with it. Can you speak to that and then also, I know you are certified in and work in breath work, and so maybe that's a part of that alone, but give me more on why this alone time is important and how to best utilize it.

Ashlee: Yeah. I think alone time is so important because then you get to know you. How many of us actually know who we are? And. Not. I'm a mom, I'm an entrepreneur. I'm so and so. Who are you? When you don't have any external input? Who are you? And we do this for our kids. We're like, get to know yourself. Who are you?

You are smart, you are confident, you were all these things like we tell our kids to embrace their authenticity. But for most of us, we are terrified to be quiet with ourselves. That's scary. Mm-hmm. Because that's where it's like, okay, maybe I am someone who struggles with perfection. Maybe I am someone who tends to complain and I don't really like that about myself.

Maybe I am someone who is living my life being led by fear as opposed to exploring the unknown. And I find that for many people it's in those quiet moments that we hear that intuition, we hear that, that voice of knowing I was saying that before we hit record. Yeah. Like you start to hear those whispers of like, not this, not this.

Mm-hmm. And I think that scares people because then they might have to do something about it. Mm-hmm. So true. And that's scary for people.

Natalie: Mm-hmm. Yeah. Okay. Tell me more

Ashlee: about the breath work. so for me, breath work was a game changer in my life. I was, my coach at the time did brought in a breath work facilitator, and we did this as a group and I was all about the, like, this is going to be very woo, not into the woo.

I don't wanna get to know myself cuz I think she's, I think she's got some deep seeded limiting beliefs in there. Not ready to dig in, but I did it. It's like I'm gonna participate. My thing is, if it scares me, it's probably worth doing. Hmm. So true. Yes. I did it and I had a lot of ahas in one session. I had a lot of, you know, you are being led by fear.

You are afraid of being alone. And the, this message just kept coming to me and what I realize now in having practiced breath work regularly for the past three years is breath work is a beautiful marriage between science and Wu. So the science of it it can instantly calm your nervous system. So if you are one of those people who always feels on edge, you're super tight.

You're in survival mode. So when you're in survival mode, everything is life-threatening, okay? Perceived or real. Your body is just reacting constantly. Practicing breath work helps your body get into that calm space of you're safe. You are actually safe. There is no lion who's trying to eat you. Right?

Yeah. You are actually okay. And when you can be in that calm space, the way you react to your kids, the rea way you react to yourself to curve balls, get that get thrown your way at work or at home or wherever, you're a lot calmer. Yeah. It can lower your blood pressure, it can reprogram your response triggers.

So that's the true science behind it. The woo behind it is that it turns up that volume on your intuition. When you're practicing breath work and you get into those meditative states, you can get that clarity of what is the right next step for me? Where should I be focusing my time? You can really hear the answer because you already know.

I promise. Every single person, you already have every answer you need inside. We're all just so used to trying to get it from other people. Yeah. And we're not used to listening to ourselves. Breath work helps you learn how to listen and trust yourself. So I practice it probably four to five times a week in shorter sessions, just to keep my body feeling calmer, I love the way it makes me feel, and I do longer sessions to kind of get that clarity of like, what do I need to release, what limiting belief is still hanging out that I need to release and create space for confidence or create space for, you know, abundance, whatever it is, whatever I'm craving, whatever the knot this is.


Natalie: Yeah. The, and yeah. Self-awareness of it all that you really can't find until you're still

Ashlee: Much easier to just be busy. Did a session. Mm-hmm. Yeah. I did a session with someone yesterday. She's a very busy mom. She runs a community through her work as well, and said to her, I'm like, just let me try this with you, 30 minutes.

And we did active breathing for seven minutes. Okay. So I settled her in seven minutes of active breathing and she, she was like, I feel like a brand new person. Like I have the energy. She's like, that just energized me to go get the rest of my day. And yeah. She was like, I didn't know I could feel this.

Good this fast. You don't need a week long vacation. You don't need a spa day. You need consistent action to support what you want and how you wanna feel. Right? We all understand that if we work out consistently, we get muscle, and if you stop lifting weights, the muscle goes away. Yeah. So, Breath work to me is this is part of your daily, weekly maintenance, beautiful for feeling good in your body and in your mind.

Natalie: So important. Where can people uh, you, you're talking, telling me about your client. You did breath work. Mm-hmm. You get some of this clarity where can people find more on what you do and follow you? Yeah.

Ashlee: So my website is our forte. Dot ca, I'm Canadian. You probably all could tell by my accent I don't feel little bits here and there.

So yeah, our forte ca I do have a whole page all about breath work and I've actually just opened the doors for a breath work membership. So as a group eight times a month, you can come to as many or as few sessions as you want. We practice it together. So I guide the sessions and help people either start their day, ready to go, we're gonna do some to release our day, and we will have some in the middle of the day while you're at work so that you can find your center and, and realize that you can calm yourself down wherever you are.

Natalie: That's great. I'll be sure and put a link in the show notes for anyone who's interested in that. Ashley, thanks so much. It's great to talk to you and learn and push past all those limiting beliefs to mm-hmm. Just be who we're meant to be. Yeah. Great to talk to you

Ashlee: for having me.

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