The concept of progress verses perfection is a very important one to addiction recovery. It is a simple enough statement, but when you break it down, it carries a very profound meaning to addiction recovery, as well as goal setting in general. Perfection is unattainable because people are inherently imperfect. Sometimes it is striving for perfection that drives people to addiction in the first place because their goals are forever out of their reach. Striving for perfection will result in frustration, disappointment and discouragement. Progress, on the other hand, is attainable. Anyone looking to improve themselves is capable of doing so. The pursuit of progress is rewarding, reasonable and respectable.
Aiming for progress rather than perfection while climbing out of addiction can make a very positive difference in your recovery, particularly for those who have relapsed once or multiple times, which is a huge majority of recovering addicts. The idea is to progressively put more and more time between relapse episodes, forgiving yourself for relapsing and then jumping immediately back into your commitment to your recovery. You should still obviously strive for no relapses, but it is often the self-loathing that follows relapse that is the most destructive aspect of it. Learning to forgive yourself for relapsing is essential to your continued recovery, which is why a goal of progress rather than perfection can make all the difference.
This motto is best for people who are struggling with less severe addictions. If their addiction puts them at risk, such as an addiction to heroin, the urgency of recovering completely becomes more critical. But when the addiction is non-life threatening, a minor relapse is not call for alarm. It is far more important to be headed in the right direction than it is to be at your final destination. It is natural to desire a flawless recovery, but it is an unrealistic expectation that will put more stress on you than you need as a recently recovering addict. It is better to push yourself to take steps forward but prepare yourself for moments of weakness.
It is a human tendency to avoid showing signs of weakness. We want to project an image of unwavering strength and preparedness through every situation. As common as this is, you would not think that it is actually counterproductive to the goals we are trying to achieve. The truth that we neglect is that there is more strength and growth found where a person admits to their shortcomings and asks for help. This is true in relationships, in the workplace and in addiction.
Admitting to your weaknesses does not make you any more weak than lying to yourself makes you able. Admitting to your weaknesses is a sign that you are using objective critical thinking instead of bravado. For example, when an alcoholic admits to themselves and to others that they are not strong enough to walk into a bar and stay sober, they are exhibiting strength in knowing themselves.
Reaching out to your support system becomes vital when you choose to be strong enough to admit to your weaknesses. It takes courage to admit that you are struggling in addiction or in recovery, and the encouragement that your support system provides is invaluable. Reaching out to your support system can also be an intelligent way of preventing relapse. For example, if your family has always had alcohol at family events and it does not occur to them to stop serving it, it might take strength on your part to tell them that your recovery requires the alcohol to be eliminated. A good support system will take your request seriously.
Turning to your higher power for strength is a very effective way of preventing relapse, some would argue the most effective. Not everyone believes in a higher power, but statistically, those who defer to a higher power for strength in addiction recovery have more success than those who do not. Those who turn to their higher power report feeling stronger and more able to overcome their addiction because of it.
One thing to keep in mind as you journey through the highs and lows of addiction recovery is time will ease your cravings. This thought is a beacon of hope to many people who are fighting with everything they have to protect their recovery. The more time goes by without a relapse, the lesser your cravings for the addictive substance or activity become. Your brain forgets the exact sensation of the high you would experience under the addiction’s influence and the urgency to experience it again dissipates.
The strength of your recovery actually builds over time. The initial emotions you experience when you begin your recovery are a poor example of how you will feel in a month, or a year, or in five years. It will be hard at first and you will stumble, struggle and possibly even relapse and be forced to start again. But sooner or later, it will dawn on you that are setting new records for time gone by without thinking of your addiction. The passing of time without relapse is its own remedy to addiction and very much a reason to celebrate.
Do not be hard on yourself when you are new to recovery and struggling. It would be entirely abnormal if you did not experience some hardship while adjusting to a new way of life. Do not compare yourself to others or criticize your own efforts. Every person’s recovery is as individual as they are. Allow yourself time to improve and be mindful of the subtleties in your thoughts and behaviors as you progress. Chances are, you will surprise yourself with your metamorphosis.
The golden rule with recovery is that practice makes perfect. This means you might mess up more than once while you are finding your groove. You may walk into situations that trigger your addiction and catch you unaware. If you relapse, forgive yourself. If you relapse repeatedly, forgive yourself repeatedly. Aim to have progressively longer periods of recovery in between relapse. Do not expect perfection of yourself right off the bat.
If your addiction is to a substance, cravings will always be worse if you have not allowed yourself to detox from the substance you were abusing. It is best to use the services of a professional detox center, such as Vancouver, Montreal or Calgary detox center.
Recovering addicts who experience a relapse often have similar things to say about relapse. For most recovering addicts, relapse is very discouraging. It can leave many people disheartened with their recovery and want to give up. Others have the ability to overcome a relapse and try again. If a relapse is going to happen, it is far better to develop the attitude of overcoming the relapse to start again than it is to give up. It is this perseverance and resilience that leads to positive outlooks on relapse.
The idea that a recovering addict should be making progress instead of perfection is very valuable. Recovering from addiction is difficult and sometimes, the pressure to have a flawless recovery is so stressful that a person may relapse under the weight of their expectations, whether real or perceived. Rather than enforce perfection on one’s self, it is far healthier for a recovering addict to see their recovery as a gradual uphill climb rather than a leap to a high point. It is far more important to make continuous strides than it is to never make mistakes.
Many people who relapse feel discouraged and want to punish themselves. They feel that they have broken something that they cannot get back. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Relapse is, simply put, a chance to start over again with more understanding. In fact, the spirit of endurance in the face of relapse is a critical part of recovery. The truth is a majority of recovering addicts experience a relapse of some variety. It should never be a source of shame or discouragement, but rather a renewal in your commitment to your recovery.
The saying “tomorrow is another day” is a cliche, but it is an effective cliche. If you have relapsed, simply accept responsibility for your relapse and remember what you learned in your addiction treatment. Sleep on this insight, then wake up to restart your recovery on a brand new day.