3 P’s: Perfection, Procrastination, Paralysis – Episode 219

Do you find yourself seeking perfection? Do you procrastinate because you can’t achieve it? Or, maybe, you are paralyzed because of it.

We explore the 3 P’s, guided by the questions below and with shares from listeners.

  • How do Perfection, Procrastination, and Paralysis connect to each other?
  • How have I experienced perfection(ism) in my life?
  • How (and why) do I procrastinate?
    • What is the payoff from procrastinating?
  • When do I experience paralysis?
    • What behaviors do I exhibit then?
  • How can I use the “6 P’s”(from our book Paths to Recovery) of Step six?  Thanks to Cleaning Out the Old Toolbox blog for these reflections:
    • Perspective: think of defects of character as “survival skills that no longer serve me”. Since my Higher Power wants more for me than mere survival, I can let them go and trust that I will develop healthy behaviors and thinking.
    • Pain: Whenever the pain of staying the same hurts more than the pain of change, that’s the time when I will be ready.
    • Prayer: My part is to pray for openness & willingness; God’s part is to do the removing.
    • Patience: God gets to choose when and how fast He will remove my defects of character.
    • Process: Quite possibly, this is a grief process of denial, anger, bargaining and depression.
    • Payoff: The bottom line–what am I getting out of holding on to some of these defects of character? What is still good about it?
  • How can I let go of 3 P’s?
    • Slogans
      • Progress, not perfection
      • First things first
      • How Important is it?
      • Do the next right thing.
      • Keep it simple.
      • Easy does it.
      • Let go and let God.
    • Steps
      • Step 4 — identify my character traits
      • Step 5 — be honest about them!
      • Step 6 — become ready to let go of what is not helping me
      • Step 7 — Ask for the help (and practise new behavior)
    • Acceptance that nothing is/will be perfect. Ever.
    • Gratitude

Our upcoming topic is courage. The word courage appears in the serenity prayer, from which the title of one of our daily meditation books was taken: Courage to Change. How have you experienced courage in your recovery? Which steps required courage of you? How has recovery given you courage to change the things you can? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

Episodes mentioned in this show are: Episode 203, Adult Children of Alcoholics; Episode 200, Daddy’s Medicine; and Episode 22, Parents’ Roundtable.
Continue reading “3 P’s: Perfection, Procrastination, Paralysis – Episode 219”

We claim spiritual progress … – Episode 72

By Haragayato (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Many of us exclaimed, “What an order! I can’t go through with it.” Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection. (Alcoholics Anonymous)

Mara joins Spencer again to talk about perfection, progress, and topics in between. The quote, above, from the “Big Book” of Alcoholics Anonymous formed the foundation of our conversation. Here are some of the questions we may or may not have ended up addressing.

  • What does it mean to be perfect?
  • What is your perspective/understanding on character defects? Are they what keep you from perfection?
  • How did you feel about perfection before the program vs. now?
  • What do you consider to be progress?
  • How does your outlook and attitude change when you look at your progress (how far you’ve come) instead of your shortcomings (how far you have to go to be perfect)?
  • How do you see your progress?
  • By taking a periodic inventory?
  • When you see yourself facing or responding to an old situation in a new way?
  • When someone else points it out to you?
  • How do you feel or react when something does not work out the way you wanted it to?
  • What tools can you use to get past that feeling or reaction to resolution or completion?

Spencer closed with this prayer he got from a Facebook friend, by which he tries to live every day. “Lord, help me to hold myself and others to a standard of grace, rather than perfection.”

Our topic for next week is Tradition 5, which says “Each Al-Anon Family Group has but one purpose: to help families of alcoholics. We do this by practicing the Twelve Steps of AA ourselves, by encouraging and understanding our alcoholic relatives, and by welcoming and giving comfort to families of alcoholics.”

Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here. Continue reading “We claim spiritual progress … – Episode 72”

perfection and grace – a meditation

DSC_5126

 

 

 

Lord, help me to hold myself and others to a standard of grace, rather than perfection.

— Prayer

 

 

I frequently need this reminder, and have added it to my daily prayer set, along with the 3rd and 7th step prayers. Much of the trouble in my relating with others comes from an expectation of perfection. Usually it’s an unconscious expectation, but when someone isn’t acting up to it, I can get annoyed or frustrated. If I can hold myself to a standard of grace, if I can approach every interaction with an attitude of shared humanity, then it becomes easier for me to treat them with dignity and respect.

Recently, I was not able to do this, in a meeting at my workplace. A colleague was asking me for something that I felt I could not supply perfectly. Apparently, my response was not satisfactory, because she asked again. I got more annoyed, stating my position more clearly (I thought), and then asked “is that clear enough for you?” (And not in a friendly tone of voice, either.) She responded “No!” In retrospect, I can see that I was holding both of us to a standard of perfection, and when that standard was not met (in my eyes), I lashed out in frustration. I disrupted the meeting. I treated my colleague with disrespect. And I did not move us towards an acceptable answer to her question.

Later in the day, I realized I needed to apply Step 10, “… and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” I apologized to my colleague for my attitude. She accepted the apology, and I think, in that moment, we both held each other in grace, because she then said, humbly, “We both need to figure out a way to communicate so that this doesn’t happen.” Which I intend to work on with her, so that healing can come from this incident.

A meditation for August 24, 2013.

Continue reading “perfection and grace – a meditation”

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.
Continue reading “Progress, not Perfection – Episode 29”