Overcoming the Pressure to Be Perfect in Recovery

For many who are just beginning their journey to addiction recovery on their own after rehab, the thought that each step will move them closer to sobriety and there will be no setbacks is prevalent. While the understanding that recovery is hard work is common knowledge, many don’t truly understand it until they have had their first setback in their life. Setbacks can scare people into thinking they are healing wrong and that they will never reach full sobriety. However, this is a myth associated with rehab and treatment that must be overcome. You survived rehab and came out better, therefore you have the proper tools to take care of yourself now, outside of rehab. The pressure to be perfect in addiction recovery often comes from the person themselves because they don’t see the struggles others are going through. They want to make the same strides as their peers, not realizing that everyone has their own setbacks. Learning to focus on making progress rather than struggling to be perfect in one’s own treatment journey is vitally important to getting sober.

Perfection Is Impossible

No matter what you go through in life, you have to understand that perfection is impossible. You may be able to have a perfect grade or do something exactly as you want, but being perfect all the time simply won’t happen no matter how much you try. Humans were not designed to be perfect, but to always be learning and progressing forward. Since the dawn of humankind, humans have adapted and overcome obstacles that seemed to be impossible. However, the mistakes human ancestors made and the ways they found that worked best for survival are what brought you here today. Mistakes are what cause you to push forward, and your triumphs are there to remind you to keep going. The very idea that you can be perfect in your recovery is a myth, and it is a dangerous myth at that.

Why Is Perfectionism Dangerous?

If you have ever met a perfectionist, they most likely seem to conquer the impossible. They juggle a schedule you could never dream of having, they have clean and organized work and living spaces, and practically everything you could ever dream of. From the outside, someone who seems to have a “perfect” life may make it look as though it is effortless. However, a look inside would drastically distort how their life is perceived by others.

You see, those that strive for perfection often live in the mindset that they are inferior to others. Because of this view, they feel as though they must go through life without making mistakes just to keep up with the rest of the crowd. Their need to be perfect is almost always a cover for their insecurities. This can stem either from growing up and being told they weren’t good enough or from irrational anxiety that others are judging them harshly. It can also be a mixture of both.

The reality is that life just wasn’t made to be perfect. There will always be slip-ups because you are human, and that is okay. Striving for perfection is bound to stress you out more and lead to a life of anxiety, depression, and the constant feeling of never being good enough. By releasing yourself from this pressure, you can begin to make progress in your recovery rather than hope for perfection.

Making Progress

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, progress can be defined as “gradual betterment.” This is a perfect perspective to have on the idea of progress and perfection in recovery. To be perfect would mean that you are hitting all the marks by saying and doing what others want you to do, but this doesn’t mean you necessarily learn anything. Progress in recovery is about slowly and gradually healing yourself to break free from your addiction and find happiness in a life of sobriety.

The only way to make progress in recovery is to do the work. Once you leave treatment and go on to live on your own, you will see your progress being made over the weeks to come. This can look like you having a daily routine, creating a meal plan, exercising, engaging in sober activities, going to support groups, etc. Ensuring that you never lose sight of the end goal of sobriety will keep you on track and motivated. It is enough to be gradually moving forward with a couple of bumps along the way than to strive for perfection and be burnt out, returning to the habits you worked so hard to break.

Keep Going

Recovery is hard work, especially when you are thrown back into the real world that is full of stressors and temptations. Daily life won’t always be built for your sobriety in the ways in that rehab was. However, you can continue making progress by using the coping strategies and more that you learned in rehab and applying them to your daily life. Some suggestions to hold you accountable and keep you moving forward include:

  • Getting a sponsor
  • Being a sponsor
  • Having a relapse prevention plan
  • Giving back to the recovery community
  • Journaling
  • Keeping up hope

By engaging in these activities, you can actively work to take steps in your recovery without worrying to be perfect while doing them.

At Northstar Transitions, we believe in taking the proper steps to set our clients up for success when they leave our facility. Doing the work to provide individualized care can go a long way to help them in recovery. However, we always try to make sure our clients know that recovery is not about being perfect. Recovery is not always Instagram photos and flowers. It is hard work, and there will be setbacks. However, setbacks are what will help you learn in your journey to sobriety. Understanding that perfection is not needed and progress is the only thing you are responsible for can be a huge weight off of your shoulders. We push our clients to make progress at their own pace, never expecting perfection from their journey. If you or someone you know is struggling with the pressure to be perfect in recovery, contact us today for help shaking those thoughts. We want you to know that you are capable and worthy even if you are not perfect. Call us today at (303) 558-6400.

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