Amy Riordan "I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes, and I mean coat pretending to be elegant when actually, it's just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says again and again. I'm not good enough and I will never be good enough." - Elizabeth Gilbert
Amy Riordan Welcome to The Amy Riordan Podcast. They say owning a business is a journey in self development, so I decided to explore just that. Whether you're an entrepreneur or looking for fulfillment in your day to day life, get inspired here through interviews, life stories and proven self help techniques. What you do with the information received in this podcast is completely up to you, but if you act, you will alter the course of your life in ways you never could have possibly imagined. I'm Amy Riordan. Let's do this.
Amy Riordan Today I got to interview Kelly Covert. Kelly is an inner voice coach, and she's very good at what she does. She actually has a course on her website KellyCovert.com, about perfectionism, and that's what we talked about today. She has a podcast called In Her Voice that's an excellent podcast, I'd highly recommend. It's for women who feel like they are meant to do more. She's also a mother of two and a flutist with Symphoria. And I really hope you guys enjoy this one. Hopefully you'll take advantage of the few tips and tricks that she has to get over perfectionism.
Amy Riordan Good morning Kelly, and thank you so much for joining us. We're excited to have you.
Kelly Covert Thanks, Amy. I'm so excited to be here.
Amy Riordan Why didn't you please introduce yourself? Tell us a little bit about what you do.
Kelly Covert Fantastic. My name is Kelly Covert, and I am an inner voice coach and the host of the podcast In Her Voice. And I am passionate about helping women use the tool of listening to their inner voice to really guide them, to help them to understand that they're worthy now and understand that they have everything they need to be the woman that they want to be.
Amy Riordan Wow, that sounds beautiful. So you're actually on today to tell us a little bit about perfectionism. Tell me a little bit about how you got involved with teaching about perfectionism.
Kelly Covert Well, I find that the best way to teach things is to live it. And that was true for me. I mean, I am a perfectionist to the bone. I feel like I was born that way. And it's been a real battle in my life to come to a place of understanding that I'm not perfect and that that is 100% okay and beautiful and exactly where I'm supposed to be. And so when I started to recognize the role that perfectionism was playing in my own life and how it really held me back, it kept me from feeling good enough. It kept me from feeling worthy. It pushed me to do things I did not want to do. I had to get really clear with myself on the role it was playing and that I didn't want that in my life. I didn't want to feel not good enough. I didn't want to feel like I was always striving for the next thing, the next gold star. And so I felt - once I sort of wrapped my head around what I needed to do to work on that and let me be really transparent. It's an ongoing work you know, its always something that I'm working on. I felt clearly I'm not the only one that struggles with that. And when I started putting it out there; when I started talking about it on my podcast, I got so many women coming to me saying, Yeah, this is me. And I didn't even realize that this is what it was. I didn't even realize that it was perfectionism that was keeping me stuck and keeping me feeling not good enough. And so it's been really powerful for me as a recovering perfectionist to help other women understand how to, you know, almost work with it in their life instead of I don't like to use the word battle so much. But how to really be in control and not let the perfectionism control you.
Amy Riordan Wow, I can definitely agree with that. I suffer from perfectionism, and I'm not afraid to admit it. I wanted to talk to you about this specifically because I know that we're both not alone and I know that a lot of people need to talk about it, but the biggest thing is, I love how even on your website you talk about how you - it's a way to live with its not - I don't know. It wasn't so much like getting rid of this part of you, it was about embracing this part of you. And I felt like that was something that was different when it came to talking about perfectionism.
Kelly Covert I think it's really important to know that the thoughts that drive us towards perfectionism don't just go away, that this is an ongoing practice of being - of understanding. Hey, I'm not perfect. Nobody's perfect. There's not an expectation that I have to be perfect except for the one that I put on myself. And, you know, there are good things about perfectionism, like it does serve us to a point. For me, it served me really well until I had kids. And then, I couldn't do it anymore and you know, So it drove me to get two degrees and music and to have great job in all of these things, and those aren't necessarily bad things. But when I sit back and look at it, yeah, I have all those accomplishments, but I never really felt accomplished. I never really felt good enough, and quite frankly, I was just sick and tired of feeling that way all the time. I just didn't want to feel that way anymore. So it's really, you know, about embracing who we are now with the grace and with a little of an understanding who we want to be in setting intentions around that.
Amy Riordan So how do you go about embracing it? What did you do?
Kelly Covert Well, the first thing is just to call myself out on it. I mean, I if you follow me on instagram or listen to my podcast, you know, I identify as a recovering perfectionist. I mean, that is something that I am in every single day. And just like anyone recovering from any disease, if you will, it's not something that just ends, you know, it's something that pops up and comes back again and again, and so a really own it. And it's at the top of my mind. And I also surround myself with people who can help me with that who know that this is something that I struggle with and can say, Hey, what are you doing there? You know what's coming up for you right now? And that to me, has been also really really valuable.
Amy Riordan It sounds perfect. So how did you notice the symptoms, If you will?
Kelly Covert Well, for me, when it got real, was at a time of my life, I had two kids. I was training for long distance triathlon. I had a coaching business. I was a professional musician, teaching at the college level. I was doing a million things, and I remember I did a triathlon race and my goal was you know, whatever the time goal, was and I have a picture of myself crossing the finish line and in the picture of the finish line instead of like being excited and happy that I had finished this long race. I was looking at my watch to see if I had beat you know, my record or whatever and that particular race, I had missed it by one minute.
Amy Riordan Oh.
Kelly Covert And I remember feeling like in the moment, so disappointed. And then I got the picture and I was looking at it and I was like, 'Oh, my gosh, one minute is not going to change who I am. One minute is not going to make me better. One minute is not gonna make a difference to me and to the people that are around me.' And it really struck me that, like I was letting this one minute sort of define my whole experience of that day. And then I realized I was doing that in a lot of places. And not only was I doing that, I was always striving for the next thing you know, I would do one thing. Can I do that thing better? I do this thing, I'm done. Now we need to do another thing. I need another gold star. I need another certificate. And I was just tired. I was tired of all of the doing exhausted, and I still wasn't feeling like I was good enough. And I just sort of drew the line in the sand and I was like, You know, one minute? Enough is enough. Like, when will it stop? And I just had this vision of, like, feeling like that for the rest of my life, and I just couldn't do it anymore.
Amy Riordan Wow, It's funny how similar I'm finding this moment with what I'm going through, actually right now. I'm curious how much of these things that you're doing were actually goals for other people. Like to please people?
Kelly Covert That's a really good question. And I think that this is part of perfectionism for some people, but not for all people. So for me, I don't really think it was ever about having other people love me or think that I'm good enough. You know, it wasn't about people pleasing at all it fundamentally; it was about what I thought about myself and what I felt about myself and yeah, I could get a boost from external affirmation. I mean, my love languages Words of Affirmation. I love it when people tell me how great I am.
Amy Riordan Yeah me too.
Kelly Covert I love it when people tell me that they left me. But what it really came down to was people can tell me that 1000 times a day, but if I don't believe it, if I don't believe that I'm good enough If I don't love myself, none of that matters. No thing that I'm gonna do can help me feel that way if I don't feel that way and that's I think, the heart of it, You know, I really had to be honest with myself about who I thought I was and how I felt about myself and honestly, what really helped me with that, Amy was being a mom, and I'm pretty open about this on my podcast and other interviews that I've done. My oldest son is on the spectrum and, you know, he's, a hard kid to love. He's a hard kid to parent, you know, he's challenging. And I recognized at around the same time that all I want to do is love him for who he is. That's all I want. I just want to be able to love him fully. And the path to that, for me was to love myself. How could I possibly give my full love to someone else, if I can't give it to me? I have to practice that on me. And so it was sort of this, you know, juxtaposition of all of these things happening at the same time, that really helped me to understand. You start first with loving yourself and you start first with laying aside the judgment of yourself and you start first with saying, 'Enough is enough and you are enough right now.' And when you begin at that point, then it's easier to stop judging other people. It's easier to say no to things because you know that that doesn't align with your souls true purpose. And then that is, while it may help you feel good temporarily, you know, because of the Gold Star, whatever. It's not gonna help you feel really, truly fulfilled. Really worthy. It's just another accolade. You know, that it's like a drug really. You know, like, how can I find my next high? What can I do to get another fix? And, you know, I don't want to live a life like that. I want to live a life that is driven from within.
Amy Riordan So what do you do to find those fulfilling items?
Kelly Covert Well, you know, and here is really the center point of my work that I do on my podcast and with other women. And that is connecting to listening to your inner voice. We have a guidance system inside of us that is foolproof. I mean, she knows the way. And when we take the time to listen only then will we be truly aligned only then are we going to be on the path that feels right, and that feels good. And only then can we truly love ourselves. So it's really about asking your inner voice, creating a practice of listening to your interview always because the more you listen the easier it gets and then actually taking to heart what comes out from your soul and for me that's the starting point is creating that listening practice, and having intentions surrounding that so you know where you want to be going. I mean, just like what this podcast is about, you know, goals and things that you want to do... Are those goals. I love that question. Are those goals your goals? Are they things that are aligned with your values? Are they things that your inner voices asking of you? You know, my inner voice never said, 'Go out and go one minute faster in your triathlon on and then you'll be good enough.' Like where that didn't come from inside of me. And so now the decisions that I make are led by my inner voice rather than by what I think I should be doing or by what other people tell me I should be doing - all of that.
Amy Riordan I love the way that you word that. I especially like how you're talking about really, really listening to your inner voice because I think a lot of us can't stop the negative from coming in. And I know that when we initially talked you said that you might have some journal prompts for us, so what are some things that you could give us to work on it?
Kelly Covert Yeah, sure. And you know, just a side note about the negative thoughts. I haven't come to a place; I'm almost 46 and I've been in this practice a long time, and I still haven't come to the place where the negative thoughts stop. And I think it's really important to talk about that because, just because you're practicing listening to your inner voice and you're doing the things that you need to stay connected and to stay aligned doesn't mean you're not gonna have shitty thoughts. They're still going to be there because we're talking about decades, generations of belief systems that, you know we have that our parents have, that our mothers, had that our mothers mothers had, you know, that's a lot in there and so they're gonna come. And I think that the key is is understanding. We get to choose the thoughts were going to believe we could to say, 'Yeah, I'll take that one. No, I'm gonna leave that one at the curb because it's not serving me.' So, the so the negativity, the negative thoughts will still be there. But we can choose whether or not we act on the those whether or not we really sink our teeth into them. But I I was journaling this morning on our interview today; been thinking about the prompt. And one thing that I sit inside of a lot is how do I love myself today and accept my imperfections and at the same time have goals and at the same time want to transform and to change my life? I think that's a really tricky question. Do you ever run into that?
Amy Riordan Yeah. You constantly. I will admit it. Yes. It's like daily.
Kelly Covert Yeah, it's hard. It's super hard. Like, how do I love my body the way it is and feel like I'm gonna fit into my clothes and feel more comfortable in my own skin if I lose 10 pounds? Like how do I manage that? And when I was really sitting inside of that about two months ago, something came to me and I call it It's kind of funny, but I call it my formula for loving transformation. I have been practicing this because I like it cause it's super clear. It's three steps, Grace. Grace for where we are now, grace for understanding we're not perfect and that we never will be perfect, grace for our failures and for our mistakes. And for all the things that we don't 100% love. Grace for ourselves that we don't love ourselves yet, you know, like it goes so many layers deep. Grace can cover all of that. So grace plus intention. So what is your intention? Not necessarily what you want to change, but who do you want to be? How do you want to show up in the world? What is your intention for health? What is your intention for your career for your professional life? What is your intention for your relationships? Knowing full well there's no way you can be 100% on every single intention every single day. That's not gonna happen. That's where the grace comes in. So practicing these two things together really creates an environment where you can grow, where you can learn more about yourself, where you can be compassionate to yourself, where you can in a way almost parent yourself the way you maybe were never parented and create an environment where you can be who you want to be and you can transform. And you can change at the same time that you are loving yourself and understanding that you're worthy right now, whether or not that change ever comes. And it's tricky because it's not black and white like, we want everything to be black and white and it's just not, you know, there's a duality to things. I am imperfect, at the same time that I'm getting better. I can love myself at the same time I want to change myself. And just wrapping our heads around that, I think is really, really important. So the third piece that I mentioned is one that's often overlooked, especially among high edge fevers and overachievers, and that is self care. You know, we set the goals, we set the intentions, we go, go go, go, go. We hustle, we hustle, and then we're just tired. And if we're not building in the self care, everything is gonna fall apart. So the self care is the glue that holds the grace and intention together as you move into that transformation that you seek. So we have to remember that because you know, I would say I'm a fairly 'Type A' person, you know, it's easy for me to work literally every single day of the week. And so I have to build in that self care, those essentials that I know that I need to take care of myself, so I can keep going, so I can do the things that I value and do them well. Otherwise the whole show is over, and I'm just gonna fall apart and, like, be a mass in my bed and not be able to function. And I don't want that. Or I'm functioning, but I feel like crap all the time, and I don't want that either. So, grace plus intention, plus self care is how we get to living transformation. And I did come up with a prompt, and this is a prompt that I use often, because it's a reminder to me of what I need in my life in order to practice these things. So the prompt is, 'I am at my best when...' and I think really getting clear at when we feel are best like, what's happening in your life when you feel your best? What are you doing? What are you practicing? What are the practices that you have in place when you feel your best? For me, that's daily gratitude, it's working out most days of the week. It's eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. It's taking care of my body. I am at my best when I'm journaling most days I'm at my best when I am keeping track of my intentions and they're at top of mind. So all of these little pieces then create sort of like the recipe for what you need to show up every day and be who you want to be. And that is, I think, the antidote to perfectionism. I don't want to be perfect because number one it's impossible number two like, have you ever, like met someone who came off as being perfect?
Amy Riordan Yeah.
Kelly Covert I don't like those people.
Amy Riordan Yes, yeah, they're kind of fakey.
Kelly Covert They're fake and they're annoying. And this is a thing. And the reason that we feel those feelings is because we know it's not real.
Amy Riordan This is all so good. Seriously.
Kelly Covert So who do you want to be? How do you wanna show up and what do you need in order to do that? Day after day after day and you know what? It's not. It's not beating yourself up in your head with that awful mean girl voice. You know, that's not what's happening when you're at your best, it's not push, push, push, push, push, give it all you've got until there's nothing left. That's not your best. So this also requires a high level of honesty, you know, really being honest with yourself about what your best looks like and what you need to show up in that way.
Amy Riordan When you said that we wanted to be black and white, that was just - I mean, that was powerful for me because it's so true. I use that in everything that I do. I constantly like consider this podcast. I'm like a whole what could make it more clear and crisp, um you know, cause I've got friends that do web design for a living or that work on YouTube and they can create these powerful step by steps that are exact how tos. And they just look so black and white to me. But I want my partner to be something more that's clearly not black and white. That was like a nail on the head for me.
Kelly Covert I'm so glad that resonated with you that it was really it. I feel like I'm still letting that sink in to myself. I mean, I talk about this with my coaching clients all the time. I talk about it with my friends. I have really cool friends, and we talk about things like this. And I think I talk about it a lot because I need to remind myself, Hey, it's both. It's both, and it's not black and white. It's not one or the other. You can be both at the same time. You can love yourself and want more at the same time.
Amy Riordan Exactly. We all have our things, you know, like, we've all got our issues and are like things we need to go to therapy for. And we just need to learn to love ourselves regardless. And I love all of what you've said. So I just want to - The last question I want to ask you is if there's one thing you could leave for my listeners, what else would it be?
Kelly Covert I would say, and this is just really coming from my heart. I, more than anything, want you to understand that you are enough right now. If you never earn another dime, if you never lose another pound. If you never check another thing off of your bucket list, you are enough. You are worthy and it's only, when we really step into the deep understanding of that, that I think that all of the bucket list things become more meaningful because then it's not about; it's not about changing who you are. It's about being who you are.
Amy Riordan It's so important to have people and more specifically, friends that that say those things to us because it's true. We need to learn to accept who we and to - I mean, I'm I want to talk, right? So we'll still working on this, But also knowing that it's a work in progress is huge because a lot of people, they honestly, they don't realize but they honestly subconsciously believe that those negative thoughts will go away and that there's something wrong with them if they don't go away.
Kelly Covert I mean, maybe they do. I haven't met anyone that that happens to you. And I talk to a lot of women. I interview a lot of really, really wise women who have been walking this path far longer than I have. And it's a question I ask a lot because I'm interested in it. And everyone says, no, they're still there. You just get to choose.
Amy Riordan You do get to choose. Well, thank you so much, Kelly, for this interview. This is huge. I know that my listeners, we're really gonna - I'm really valuing this right now. I'm trying to take that all in. Is there any other thing? I know that we're gonna link all of your links below so they can come check you out. Obviously they can contact you, we will put your email on there. Is there anything else you wanted me to tell them and to link below?
Kelly Covert Yeah. I mean, I would just say, if you really are ready to dig in to the perfectionism piece, I do have a little mini course on my website at KellyCovert.com/perfectionism. It has two videos and there's a whole bunch of journaling prompts that can take you even deeper into the practice of listening to your inner voice and really loving who you are now. Because when you do that, it just opens up so much potential and so many possibilities rather than one, which is perfect and unattainable.
Amy Riordan And can I just say, it's insanely inexpensive! This course I've been eyeing it. I am keeping my eye on it, but we'll definitely link it below. And thank you again, so much for joining us, Kelly. Thank you.
Kelly Covert Sure thing. It was my pleasure, Amy. Thanks for having me.
Amy Riordan Amy Riordan is a weekly podcast brought to you by me, Amy Riordan. Love this podcast? Leave me a review and share it with friends. You can also find me on social media. Subscribe to this podcast for all new episode notifications. With questions, topic requests or interviewee nominations, visit AmyRiordan.com. Curious about specific content mentioned in each episode? Those details are linked below.