People should always aspire to be the best that they can be in their lives. For some people, this can mean reaching great professional heights, while others want to be the perfect role model for the people in their lives. It is natural for people to want to make as few mistakes as possible with whatever they are working toward and accomplishing. However, avoiding mistakes doesn’t mean that someone always has to be perfect in everything that they do. In fact, constantly striving for any kind of perfection can lead someone to some difficult situations and mental states.
Creating an “All or Nothing” Mentality
The first issue of trying to be perfect is that it gives way to an all-or-nothing mentality. This is the idea that if something isn’t done perfectly, then it is entirely a failure. In recovery, this can take the form of either someone is “completely cured” of their addiction, or that they may as well not bother recovering at all as there is no hope. However, many aspects of reality don’t operate on this binary scale, and rather exist on a spectrum of success. It is possible that something has both positive and negative qualities.
Being “completely cured” of addiction isn’t a fair assessment. Addiction itself is a constant battle that takes place over a very long time. This battle can last the entirety of someone’s life. As a result, if someone is seeking to be perfect, they are going to constantly consider themselves as a failure simply because they are still having urges or preventing relapse, even if they are not acting on these urges. The other side of the binary also poses a problem. When someone cannot see hope or any possibility of addressing their addiction, they may lose motivation in the recovery process as a whole, and possibly in other aspects of their lives as well.
There are many ways to measure success, and there can be different goals set for someone in their recovery and in their lives. However, measuring them on an all-or-nothing scale can mitigate the feelings of success that someone has overall if they see that there is always more to do. There will always be more, due to the nature of addiction recovery. But that simply means that someone needs to celebrate the steps that they are making, rather than constantly worrying about the idea of being perfect in any one aspect.
An Anxiety-Ridden World
Searching for perfection in one’s recovery, or in any aspect of someone’s life, usually ends up having the opposite effect on a person’s mind. Searching for perfection doesn’t mean that someone is trying to accomplish the best in everything, but rather, it involves honing in on every single imperfection that may be present. It can be incredibly anxiety-inducing to no longer be searching for perfection but instead be searching for all of the problems in something, leaving someone to always be seeing each aspect of their lives as a list of negatives. The search for perfection can quickly turn into a fear of being judged based on any conceived problems with anything in one’s life.
Addiction recovery already introduces a large amount of anxiety due to the constant battles and changes that someone has to make. When compounded with the additional anxieties in someone’s trek to be “perfect,” the results can be devastating. People can feel like everyone around them is constantly judging them, or they can have the feeling that success as a whole is somehow out of reach due to the sheer impossibility that perfection demands. With this binary mode of thinking, someone can quickly lose motivation for their own recovery and goals as a whole, and feelings of defeat can set in.
Stop Chasing and Start Looking
Perfection is something that many people strive for, without realizing that it is an unattainable goal. However, there is relief in allowing oneself to cease chasing perfection. As mentioned, this doesn’t mean that someone is going to stop doing their best, but rather allows someone to accept accomplishments for the effort and value that they have, rather than an unattainable goal. It is only when someone stops chasing perfection that they can examine their accomplishments without a filter, and celebrate the successes that already exist there.
Chasing perfection is inherently unfair to one’s self. Not only can it be difficult to set goals and provide an unfair lens in which to judge one’s self, but it also seems to deteriorate the accomplishments that someone has reached. Seeking perfection can frame everything in someone’s life in a negative light. Therefore, there is freedom in allowing someone to be imperfect. These imperfections invite true growth for someone to reach their goals, see the progress that has been made, and plan for the future.
Being “perfect” is a dangerous, unattainable goal, and chasing that goal can lead to many unhealthy habits or mental health issues. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways for you to accomplish your own goals and move towards a better life for yourself in sobriety. The programs at Lighthouse Recovery Texas champion each individual and their own accomplishments, by contextualizing success based on each person’s own life. Addiction and addiction recovery are very personal journeys and need to be addressed in an intimate, profound way in order to move towards prolonged sobriety. By personalizing each program for each unique person, Lighthouse Recovery creates a way for each person to fairly measure their success and set achievable goals for their time in recovery and in their lives.