The Real Road to Recovery: Progress Not Perfection

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The road to recovery is not paved and usually has unexpected twists and turns along the way. But not everyone thinks this way. People who want to recover usually have a clear image of what they want to achieve at the end of their stint in rehab: a perfect recovery. But the thing is that recovery is never perfect. Relapse is a common occurrence but it doesn’t mean that those who relapse are failures. Recovery is an everyday, lifetime process so it’s impossible to have a perfect recovery. This is is such an important thing to keep in mind in order to stay on track.

Recognize That Perfectionism Doesn’t Lead Anywhere
Some people grew up in very strict households and were raised to expect nothing but perfect results. From SATs to job interviews, they didn’t have any room for errors. Because nobody is perfect, some of these folks later on turn to addictions as a crutch. But then again, there are recovering people who don’t have any form of self-discipline in their lives and have no goals to look forward to. These people could be swayed to do whatever it is that’s currently on offer and later on turn to drugs or alcohol as a sort of anchor. These people then expect perfect results on their way to recovery. But then again, where does this desire for perfection lead? Disappointment.

What Are The Signs Of Perfectionism In Recovery?

  • Black and White thinking
    A black-and-white mindset usually involves an all or nothing kind of thinking. People who think relapse doesn’t happen or that they don’t need help from other people are usually at higher risk of relapse. Why? Because perfection is impossible. As humans, we can all set a high goal but we cannot attain absolute perfection.
  • Overestimation or Underestimation
    Sometimes, perfectionists can overestimate or underestimate themselves (or the situation at hand). This is also a form of black and white thinking and can lead to further disappointment along the way.
  • Anticipating “Full Recovery” in a given time frame
    Recovery is a lifetime process. Although it’s tempting to think a few years down the road, the truth is that those who wish to remain sober should stick to the present. If you expect to be completely sober for 5 years or 20 years down the line, just thinking about all the hard work that you have to put into it could get overwhelming.

The Tools Needed to Overcome Perfectionism
Those who seek perfection in recovery will never be able to feel satisfied in the long run. Humans are never going to be perfect – we can set goals and make plans but at the end of the day, life happens. So instead of being perfectionists, it’s better to be a critical thinker and a resilient person. If you feel overwhelmed, write down your thoughts and try to keep things logical. If ever you feel perfectionism seeping through your thoughts, rationalize away. And every now and then, try to be in other people’s shoes. Some perfectionists have a hard time seeing things from another person’s perspective so practicing this every now and then can be extremely helpful.

Reward Yourself
Letting life happen and turning into a resilient person instead of being a perfectionist is a hard task. Letting go of old habits and characteristics is never easy. It’s akin to shedding old skin – a painful, itchy, and sometimes annoying process – but the results are always worth it. So go ahead and reward yourself.

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