Progress, not Perfection – Episode 29

Today, we’re going to talk about progress, not perfection. Ever feel like no matter how much you try, you fall short? Ever just want to give up because perfection just seems too hard to achieve, so why bother? Ever feel like the strides you do take forward just aren’t good enough? Join Kelli, Swetha, and special guest Wendy for this journey.

How do we see perfection or perfectionism? It seems that perfection is never achievable, because if we reach it, we must not have defined it correctly. We keep on moving the goal posts. Or, maybe you can relate to this statement: “Perfectionism is what I’m not. It is something better than what I am. It’s always got to be one level above, no matter where I’m at.” Maybe you tie it to control: if I could just get everything to fall into place … if I could only get everyone to do what they are supposed to do…  I can’t get there because there are so many things out of my control. Perfectionism leads us to do things only when we know we are good at them, otherwise we say “f— it. I’m not doing that.”

Perfection is not rooted in reality. Is progress rooted in reality? Is it reachable, tangible? It is more real, more attainable, kinder. Perfection is rooted in anger and sadness, while progress is rooted in elation and happiness. But it can be hard to see our own progress. The program has brought us a measure of self-awareness that lets us start to see our progress. It also lets us see when we are falling away from who we want to be and to get ourselves back on track, and to see our progress.

Swetha shares an affirming definition: perfection is who you are right now, progress is what you need to do so you can be perfect for tomorrow. You are exactly right now who you need to be so that you can be of maximum use to yourself and your fellows, and your higher power made it that way. (You may not like it, but that’s how it is.)

How can we measure, or even just see, our progress? What tools do we have? Our 4th step and 10th step inventories can show us our progress, especially if we compare a current inventory to a past one. I can take time during our daily prayer and meditation to look at where I at today. I can get feedback through my sponsor or other program friends. Someone might come up to me after a meeting and say “I really liked your share. I want to try that in my recovery.” And I will see my progress in a new light. We might find ourselves reacting in a new way to an old situation. We can support each other by complimenting others on their progress, when we see it. And when we see (or are shown) our progress, we can congratulate ourselves — not only is this OK, it is encouraged. Laughter and humor can be a great tool when we find ourselves reaching for perfection instead of being satisfied with progress.

Kelli shares a tool she uses. When she finds herself faced with an old trigger, she “hits pause” and then “plays the tape forward”, seeing how it might turn out if she reacts in her old behavior, or how a new response can lead to a more positive result. Then she can choose progress. And of course, she uses the Serenity Prayer to help her choose progress (what she can change) over striving for perfection (what she cannot change).

Wendy shared a quote by that prolific writer, Anonymous. “As I journey through recovery, more and more I learn that accepting myself and my idiosyncracies, laughing at myself for my ways, gets me a lot further than picking on myself and trying to make myself perfect. Maybe that’s really what it’s all about: absolute loving, joyous, nurturing self-acceptance.”

Our topic for next week is Program in the Workplace. Do you have a hard time setting boundaries at work? Do you find yourself staying late even though it affects your self-care? How do you use your program in the workplace? Please call us at 734-707-8795, use the voicemail button at the right, or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Music from the show

 Links

Wendy found Teaching a Perfectionist to Pray.

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1 thought on “Progress, not Perfection – Episode 29”

  1. Hi guys – I just wanted to suggest that for Joseph’s topic idea of addiction as a disease you may want to check out some youtube videos of Gabor Mate. He has some very keen insights on this and is a Dr. who works with alcoholics and addicts every day. Thanks for the great show! Here is a link to the one I have watched, but he has many others on youtube that may be even better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpHiFqXCYKc

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