The Pernicious Pursuit of Perfection

by Bill

Sometimes we get so tired of trying to be perfect that we are in danger of quitting altogether.  This can happen in everyday life, and is one of the major causes of “dropping out” into various addictions, whether chemical or behavioral.  It also happens in early recovery, which by its nature defies perfection.

We don’t have to finish everything we start, we can’t do all the work, and we can’t do any of it perfectly. A supreme being would be the only one capable of perfection, and even if we think we’re God — well, we aren’t and neither are the people pressuring us. There will always be little tweaks that can improve any project, and there will always be others with their own issues, agendas, and reasons for finding fault with what we do.  Up to a point, their guidance may be helpful, but the trick is to learn when to stop tweaking and move on.

We don’t have to meet the expectations of Dad or The Teacher.  We can only live our life, not theirs.  Especially if we like to dream, or investigate new possibilities, trying to measure up to someone else’s ideal can lead to massive stress and frustration — even guilt and shame.  The fact is, good enough is good enough.  The Hyundai will get us just as far (with less hassle and far less expense) than the Maserati, and people who judge others by what they drive have their priorities so screwed up that they generally aren’t worth the trouble when you get to know them.

The most important part of recovery is learning and becoming comfortable with who we images (1)really are.  If we let the expectations of others — high or low — guide us, we will never discover what we need to know.  Growth, healthy relationships and what we learn along the way are the things that matter.  We can take our time.  Life is not a race, and we don’t have to fight our way to the finish line.


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