Maria A. Mansfield
Choosing Progress Over Perfection
The School Year is well on its way, so our family is in full mode Academics! Busy between college counseling meetings and narrowing college options with my son; along with some meaningful conversations over dinner. I'm mindful of how fast this year will go.
In the meantime, I started studying again. We also got a new puppy: a chocolate lab called Wilson; he's been outstanding so far! Must admit, he slept through the night way faster than my kids!
My new book "Honoring Your Recovery: 8 Ways to Find Purpose and Joy" is out since the end of August, and I love the comments of the people who have read it and have found it helpful. Though I experienced some personal challenges this year, I was able to overcome them, so that they wouldn't stop my progress. I still practice the very coping skills of my recovery that allow me to stay well.
I remember how I wanted my life to be perfect and how much time I wasted trying so hard to fit it into the frame I thought it belonged. I had a picture in my mind of what that looked like, but a different reality; and no matter how hard I tried, they seldom seemed to match! -Do you do that too? Why do we try to fit a "square into a circle?" I don't know why we do this, but it's exhausting!
For years I struggled with this strong perfection tendency that seemed to permeate all my life. I had such a strong will to be perfect, that making a mistake or even failing at anything felt devastating to me. I recognize this was one of the reasons why I got so sick later on. Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves? When did our expectations on ourselves and our families grow from medium to extra large?
I don't know about you, but being a perfectionist didn't make me improve as a human being. It undermined any efforts to reach success! -Seriously, how does it end when it's you against you?
We could use that emotional energy to improve every day in how we live, how we treat others, and how we do life in general! I think if we lowered our expectations on our life, and others, giving us some space to be imperfect -we could be so much happier!
I have a little white crystal in my kitchen windowsill. It was a gift from our Peer Recovery Specialist Trainer. On Graduation Day, he gave us all a crystal as a vivid reminder that our life is very similar to a crystal. Crystals reflect the light and are very strong. They also represent clarity of mind. I love mine because it's slanted and a little cloudy; reminding me that imperfection is beautiful. It's always better to strive for progress instead of perfection.
Our imperfections, along with our strengths and talents, tell our life story. They are part of who we are. I find there's grace for the things that challenge us. There's a learning process which humbles us and reminds us of our humanity and vulnerability, in ways that our strengths don't.
Even if you might not have a crystal sitting on your window sill, I hope you have a reminder of some sort, that we don't need to prove ourselves perfect. We are enough just as we are.
Be proud of your accomplishments but remember to practice patience with your shortcomings. We always try to honor progress over perfection. -So, what about you? Do you have any other ideas about striving for progress instead of perfection? Feel free to leave a comment if you'd like.
All the best, Maria A. Mansfield, PRS-E Author: "Life is Worth Getting Better" & "Honoring Your Recovery"