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178: Recovering From Perfectionism with Abigail Gazda

Feb 28, 2019

For some, the perfectionist inside of us tends to hold us back more than we thought it would be. It keeps us from achieving and even from loving ourselves. Life coach and founder of Hearts Unleashed Abigail Gazda shares how she came to understand perfectionism as she tells us about self-love and how to conquer the overachiever. Relating it to the masculine and feminine energy, she channels that significant mix inside of her to learn how to trust and surrender into the grip on control and underlying fears. Abigail also gives a sneak peek into her book, Giving Up Giving Up: The Memoir of a Quitter, sharing how she confronted her “not enough” conversations and finding the limiting beliefs and inner dialogues within herself.

178: Recovering From Perfectionism with Abigail Gazda

I’m so excited to have a new guest and a new friend, Abigail Gazda on the show. We walked in with a few things about self-love, not being selfish, about how to conquer the overachiever. We just went all over the place and it was fun. She is a life coach. She has a lot of energy. I had a great time talking to her. For more shows, please visit If you’re so inclined, leave us a review on Spotify, iTunes or your favorite podcast app. Subscribe and send this to your friends, to your enemy, to people you want to communicate better, to your crushes.

I’m with my good friend, Abigail Gazda. Welcome to the show.

Thank you.

TL 178 | Perfectionism

Giving Up Giving Up: The Memoir of a Quitter

Lover of life and a lover of love. Abigail has transformed her passion for education into a full-time career as an empowerment coach, author and motivational speaker. She’s the Founder of Hearts Unleashed. It’s a personal and professional development company committed to empowering you to operate with full freedom, power and self-expression in every area of life. She’s also the author of Giving Up Giving Up: The Memoir of a Quitter. She created the Facebook community Growing Gratitude and the host of Hearts Unleashed show. Welcome to the show. It’s a pleasure to have you. The things you sent me that are interesting, giving up people pleasing, self-love is not selfish and your identity crisis after tearing your ACL. I’m looking forward to hearing your story. How did you end up in this seat speaking about understanding about perfectionism?

I’m a lifelong athlete and that’s so much where that perfectionism came from. That’s a lot of my story. I’ve been playing basketball since first grade. Growing up in a small town in Indiana, basketball was the thing. I made it my thing and got good at it. I was tall, so that served my purpose. Over life, I built so much of my own identity in student-athletes specifically. I’m making sure to get the good grades, making sure to score all the points and do the things. I learned that winning equaled love for me. I didn’t see that until adulthood. My book is about growing up never quitting. I have that mentality and that mindset that quitters are losers and quitters never win. I never quit ever. I was a girl scout until eighth grade. I was in the band until eighth grade. I had to graduate out of stuff and that’s what I did in college.

I tore my ACL in college in my sophomore year. I just never quit. I tore my ACL and I had surgery. I only kept trying to come back, which caused more emotional and physical pain. I was too busy maintaining that perfect look. I can’t give up being a collegiate athlete. That’s who I am, “If I’m not that, what am I?” That carried into after school. I got my degree to be a physical education and health teacher. I loved it, but once I got into it, it wasn’t everything I thought it was. There was this yearning to grow and yet I was having this conversation with myself like, “I have my degree, I have the relationship, I am getting married, I got the apartment. We’re getting a house.” I was so committed to the image of perfection that I never stepped into, “I might not be this. I might have set up a different image than who my soul is here to be.”

Growing up, do you consider yourself a tomboy?


You’re a tomboy, but you were also a girl scout. As a boy, I was taught to be masculine and taught to disdain or separate myself or divorce myself from my feminine side. There are a lot of conversations about that for young girls. I’m curious about your relationship to the masculine side and also the relationship to your feminine side. Was it all boy energy put on you?

Self-love is not selfish. Click To Tweet

I was 27 years old when I had a life coach. We’re watching this coaching observation. We go grab lunch after and it’s a big group of us, but I’m sitting next to him. We’re talking and he looks at me and he was like, “Who fucked up your gender roles?” I was like, “What?” He was like, “You’re feminine, you’re flirting with me and yet you’re masculine because you’re dominating the space.” He was baselining my whole way of being and I’m like, “This is new for me. What’s going on?” I’ve never looked at this until age 28. I come from divorced parents.

My mom’s a single mom of two, hustling her tail off, breadwinner, provider. She took this masculine role to provide and to survive and to keep us alive and she gave us a great life. My dad is still very present in our life. He wasn’t the breadwinner. He wasn’t that role. He would get us to school. It wasn’t the “norm.” My dad is very expressive and my mom is not as much. There’s nothing wrong but it all mixed up everywhere and that’s what I saw. I play basketball. I play the saxophone. I am a girl scout. I can lay concrete or pour concrete, but I can also paint a picture. It’s this Jack of all trades. I always used to call myself a renaissance woman. It started early on.

TL 178 | Perfectionism

The End of Men: And the Rise of Women

You’re fitting right into a lot of my research and a lot of my curiosity. A lot of what I wrote about in the book and a lot of what I talk about is the change in terms of gender roles around the turn of the century. There’s an amazing book, The End of Men by Hanna Rosin that goes into deep around this concept where women started to become the breadwinner. You’re in your 30s. It fits around that time as you were growing up in this dynamic society around it. Did your life coach to be slay you with what he saw? What was your feeling when he nailed you? What was the first thought?

It was a blind spot. He’s just bringing it up front. I took it because so much of my life made sense from that. When you’re on the Hearts Unleashed podcast, we had that same turn of the century conversation about the shift of women and the rising and then how to navigate this and balance it as men and women. It was a shock and awe factor, but then I looked and I loved it because I had more playdough to play with.

What have you done to connect to your feminine side? To me, your energy is significantly feminine. I can feel the mix inside of you, but also I can feel your feminine side. How did you go from that tomboy at 27 to where you are now? What was your practice that you built to explore it?

I fought the whole way through it over and over again because I didn’t realize how masculine I was. You know, but you don’t know. When there are no words to it, it’s just this feeling. I’ve enjoyed putting words to it and understanding it. However, I didn’t quite understand the flow side of feminine. I understand the creative energy because I’m as creative as they come depending on the context. I was so programmed in the masculine either strategy dominating and then forcing outcomes. If I want it, I’m going to create it. I lean into feminine and let go of the grip on control because that’s perfectionism; the grip on control and the underlying fears. It was this surrendering process. It was this trust and surrender in my feminine journey where I could lean into receiving and being taken care of. I watched my mom being the provider my whole life. I’m also divorced so I did practice leaning in and it didn’t work out in my favor. I went through that whole year of like, “Don’t tell me what to do.” It’s a lot more of a tearing away process than a becoming process.

In terms of the topic covering your perfectionism, how did you integrate that into practice? My perception is you Judo’d it. You took the energy and flipped it around and flipped it on its back. Do you have a specific practice that you did to find that peace inside of you?

One of my favorites is throwing your hat off the over the wall and then you figure out how to go get your hat. It’s like, “I’m becoming a woman. Now I’m going to go figure out how to become a woman. I’m going to put heels on that feel weird and I’m going to put lipstick on and looked like I stole it from my mom.” There are these weird things that don’t feel good. You don’t go to the gym on January 1 and start lifting the 100-pound weights. There have just been these gradual shifts but making the declaration has been a powerful practice saying, “I’m doing this,” and then filling the gap. I always want to promote the support that coaches are. I wouldn’t have a book, I wouldn’t have a podcast, I wouldn’t have a business Hearts Unleashed. I wouldn’t have this retreat right now if I didn’t declare and then lean into creating it but now from grace, ease and flow.

Let’s go back to your book, Memoir of a Quitter. Why did you head that direction? What was your motivation behind writing the book?

It’s that example of when I had my gender mix-up reflected to me. When I saw my unlovable story, my deeply rooted subconscious belief system that I am innately unlovable, that was my story. I had this story like, “It couldn’t be all of me. I have to tone it down. I’m way too much to be around.” That was this belief. I wanted to be bigger, greater, better, more loving and more excited. I kept having examples in my life where I would collect evidence and reasons to tone it down. When I realize my not enough conversation was I’m unlovable, I saw why I never quit anything. I had to keep going. That was my access to feeling good enough, loved and worthy so I couldn’t quit. I saw it.

The second part of that book is the different quitters I have been in life. I joke about the jaded quitter and the enlightened quitter and the noble quitter. These different quitters supported me through that messy transformation time. I didn’t know what I was doing, but what I was doing wasn’t working anymore so it had to shift. I quit things in life. I quit teaching, I quit managing, my husband and I got divorced. That all happened. Those were the things you could see happening in life. What I was giving up and quitting was people pleasing and my limiting beliefs and my negative inner dialogue. That inner athlete is a bitch. I had to quit those things and then choose to accept myself.

You’re speaking to a lot of people in terms of the challenges of that. To go dock to the beginning of your story, quitters don’t win. Winners never quit. No retreat, no surrender. All of these masculine means that hit me and hit you with different degrees and hit people. A relationship is a failure if it ends. It’s like, “I’m sorry your marriage was ruined.” It wasn’t ruined. My first marriage wasn’t ruined. Me and my first wife were very young. We met by seven years in. We had very different dreams, concepts, and ideas of how we want to live. Yes, it was very traumatic, but at the same time, her impact on me was so significant. I was so grateful. To go to the point of, “The thing I’m quitting is people pleasing,” that is an epic journey that all of us can use a little wisdom from.

I really appreciate you saying, “The end of something is not a failure of it,” because I am great at it. I speak I because I love taking accountability. We do that. We say, “I failed, therefore I’m a failure.” We wear that around like a cloak. The end of something, shifting it into gratitude, it’s untouchable.

Quitters are losers and quitters never win. Click To Tweet

You touched on to learning improv. In improv, there’s a script. You’re making up games and scenes. My improv teacher would say like, “You fucked up.” We’ll go, “We fucked up.”

I’ve never done improv, but I was in the theater. I was Sandy in Grease in high school. I even got accused of being typecasted. I don’t care. I got the thing. I get to do it. With that being said, I remember the director saying, “Nobody knows you fucked up. Keep going. Just roll with it.” I think that all the time I’m like, “You set a big goal, you fail at that. Can you pivot? Can you pivot and keep going? Can you recreate it to still create a win-win?” That’s life.

Let’s talk about this concept of, “Self-love is not selfish.” What’s your take on that? We’ve talked about this a few times on the show. I’d love to hear your perspective on it.

It does go with the quitting and all of that. Self-love not being selfish has been a part of this woman feminine divine maternal journey. You’re supposed to be humble. You’re supposed to be timid or meek or whatever you are hearing and believing. There is a piece that originally occurs as arrogance when you’re practicing it, but it is just self-love. You can care for yourself first and you’re allowed to be your number one priority. When we back up from a self-conversation, we already know you can’t serve from an empty cup. It’s super logical and everyone can accept that. You take it on for yourself. Taking me-time or affording yourself something nice or maybe investing in your self-development and treat up going to therapy or whatever it is for you to have your needs met. That’s self-love. It’s being able to care for yourself. Speak your truth, set your boundaries, have your standards. Those are the most basic practices in self-love and we don’t do that so much.

Why do you think people don’t do that? What’s your viewpoint on why people start? I was just talking to my wife, Morgan about this. Women will give first and then receive second. In our society of isolated parents, mothers are giving to the point of their own detriment. What do you think is the motivation for people beyond to not take care of themselves?

In my eyes, it’s a deep answer because it’s not about the giving part. It’s still those mothers saying, “I’m not good enough. I’m not doing this right.” There’s a certain way to do it and there’s so much tradition and conditioning like, “This is the way it should be. This is all you’ve ever seen.” My biggest growth period was going from the Midwest to the West Coast seeing that there are so many different lifestyles. You don’t have to just be a teacher. There are no feminine and masculine roles per se. You can work whenever. You can do it, however. That flexibility in that motion and the fluidity of it opened my eyes to see that this applies everywhere in life. I was focused on career and how jobs looked. You didn’t have to be a 9 to 5. When comes to self-love and what most women believe they have to give, that is what we’ve been told over and over. We also have been made to believe that that’s the noble thing to do and men take that on in chivalry. It comes down to a morality conversation like, “You’re good if you do that and you’re bad if you don’t.” It’s all made up.

For men, it’s a little different because men get value from their production. The masculine gets value from their production. The masculine gets to benefit from their ability to produce and create and the feminine is more in the attraction and how much it can magnetize and produce. For a masculine man to give, it’s one of pure thrill. Morgan and I are on the bed and she’s like, “I forgot to get XYZ.” I’m like, “I’ll go get it for you.” I’m thrilled too. It’s enriching to me. I do also fear my habit or my tendency to overdo it and not pay attention to myself. That is a part of myself to pay attention to. At the same time, it’s finding the balance like, “This is what I need and this is what I want to provide.” It’s a challenging spot in the universe.

It’s moderation because you can overdo any of it. You can have too much water. Here’s the thing about giving and this is why we’re so addicted to it. It does give to us too. We feel good to do that. When you overdo it, now you’re giving here and you’re giving time, money, energy and your resources. There is a job to give to yourself just as much so that you may. Even masculine, to be able to go out and provide, he’s got to be healthy. He’s got to be cared for, he’s got to have well-slept. Those things are the most primal needs.

My teacher would say, “On your list of people you want the care of, make sure you’re on the list. Make sure you’re on towards the top of the list so you can take care of those people well.” I always appreciated that viewpoint.

I love working with potential clients or new people where I go, “Where are you on that list?” For them, it would be like, “I’m not.”

You’re running a retreat. Tell us about the retreat. What are you doing? What’s the scope of the retreat?

When there are no words to it, it's just this feeling. Click To Tweet

There are five classes and it’s Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I have people coming in all over the country. We’re doing five classes that take somebody through this journey. We’re doing self-love vision boards and we’re going to have a self-care conversation and what’s in the way. A lot of this conversation that we’re having is, “Why we think we can’t care for ourselves and shifting that mindset.” We are doing inner child work. We are surfacing these little inner children where we believe, “We’re not good enough. We’re on our own. We’ve got to figure this out. We’re a burden.” We’re going to uproot those inner children because as adults, we don’t understand that our inner children are the ones showing up and throwing the temper tantrum. They’re being stubborn and being frustrated. That’s how we learned to survive then. We’re going to meet our inner children, we’re going to journal with them, we’re going to meditate on them, we’re going to release them. It’s going to be so much fun.

Saturday is Self-Love Is Not Selfish workshop. It’s about learning how to shift the context around self-love and to have our needs met and look at what that looks like and setting some boundaries and standards. Saturday night is mirror work. I love talking about mirror work and being in front of the mirror with yourself and learning how to make that eye contact. I did not realize until I started coaching because I request mirror work of all my clients. I stand up and say, “Go get in front of a mirror, get up a little power stance going, tell yourself you love yourself and how much you mean it and see how much you don’t.” We’re going to be doing a couple of different exercises with that. Sunday is a spiritual awakening class where we spend the whole weekend peeling back some of these layers of resistance and these barriers to self-love and self-listening so that we can begin tapping into our intuition and learn how to listen and trust. When we show up Thursday and Friday, we’re still in that loud environment. By Sunday, it’s gotten a lot quieter. We’ve peeled a lot of layers back.

Are your seminars for women or men or all gender?

It’s for all gender. My message sounds off with women. I’ve had men read my book and they’re like, “Who’s this for?” I said, “25 to 35 women.” We all want to live free, powerful and self-expressed and that’s what I offer. That’s what I stand for. That’s what Hearts Unleashed is. I believe in males being allowed to be self-expressed and to be able to express love. When it resonates, they’re always welcoming.

TL 178 | Perfectionism

Perfectionism: Your word is what you got.

You have a seminar now and you’d be doing again this 2019. What part of the country?

I’m thinking West Coast next for sure.

Speak about your podcast. What was your motivation for doing it? A lot of people are podcasting. I talked a lot of people about the concept of podcasting. I did a show on how to podcast. It’s Episode 87 in my library. You can find it on What was your motivation for starting a podcast?

I can’t stop speaking. I went from being a role model in high school and in college to being a teacher. I loved being at the front of the room. I became an Arbonne consultant, MLM doing that thing, but I was more interested in hosting trainings and meetings and doing all the things. Being in front of people, my love of it has grown and grown. I’ve been given a gift to speak. I trust that. I love using my words. I love writing. It’s so poetic and your word is what you got. I love that. It does serve me. I want to lean with that. This is something I have love and self-expression. I knew I wanted to do a podcast for six or seven months before the true concept landed on my shoulders. I had already named my business Hearts Unleashed. I was already operating here, there and everywhere.

I was like, “What’s the topic?” That’s what dragged me not starting and what could carry the weight of hundreds of episodes. I’m like, “My whole heart is unleashed. I can unleash my heart and I get to interview people who are living their heart unleashed in order to empower others who are dying to do so who want to do the same.” I have this commitment of asking people, “What did you have to give up? What did you have to step into? Who did you have to become to have the life that you have?” That any audience could hear that one thing that would make that spark for them like, “It’s my time. I can do this too.”

Thanks so much for coming on the show. I love the concepts we laid down and I hope people got some inspiration. Your book alone sounds fascinating and the retreats as well. How do people find you? How do people connect with you?

It’s or I make it short and simple because if you find me one place, you find me any place.

You can care for yourself first and you're allowed to be your number one priority. You can't serve from an empty cup. Click To Tweet

Thank you so much. I hope we cross paths on the West Coast.

We will.

Thank you so much for joining me on. Thank you, Abigail, for a fun show. I hope you all enjoyed it. I had a great time as always with these most amazing people. For more shows, please visit my website The book is ready, the audiobook is ready. Go out there and enjoy it. Thank you so much. I love you. Take care.

Resources mentioned:


About Abigail Gazda

TL 178 | Perfectionism“Liver of life and lover of love, Abigail Gazda has transformed her passion for education into a full-time career as an empowerment coach, author, and motivational speaker.

She is the founder of Hearts Unleashed, a personal and professional development company committed to empowering you to operate with full freedom, power, and self-expression in every area of life.

Gazda is the author of Giving Up Giving Up: The Memoir of a Quitter. She created the Facebook community Growing Gratitude and is the host of the Hearts Unleashed Podcast!

Abigail loves to share her breakthroughs in her work as evidence of what is available to anyone with a commitment to his/her fullest life. With a kind smile and full heart, Gazda enjoys supporting others in cultivating their own self-love. “

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