Progress, not perfection, is a slogan used quite liberally in AA to offer participants in the program compassion. It’s not about reaching the goal of some lofty place where temptation does not exist. It’s all about the journey, and isn’t life like that?
Right now, I am renovating a condo I purchased. The project is becoming much more involved than I thought it would be. There was a leak in the tub drain, and it was ruining the living room ceiling. I have to replace the floor of the upstairs bathroom. The bottom line is it is taking longer than expected, and it’s more expensive than I had planned. I wish I could be happy about the progress and not the lack of perfection, but it’s hard for me.
In my state of frustration and self-pity, I paused to wonder how people who were out of work due to the Coronavirus were managing to feed their children. Suddenly all my woes seemed like Cadillac problems. I have food on the table, a brand new home, and the money to deal with all these unforeseen issues. I also have steady work and I am not worried about where my next paycheck or meal will come from. It gave me some perspective, but it also made me feel bad.
Too Hard On Myself
I tend to be way too hard on myself and can often beat myself up about things. After realizing how much I was complaining about the stuff going on in my life and thinking about how others are struggling with real problems, I started to put myself down.
I have perfectionist thinking, so either I am bad, or I am good. I have not yet figured out how to live in the gray and just be happy with my spiritual progress, not perfection.
Living Proof of Progress
The other day I got two texts from family members. They were concerned about the weather prediction of “high winds.” Later in the day, I got warnings from my electric company and Comcast that I could lose service due to “high winds.” In the past, all these reminders that something that was coming, that could potentially affect me, would have caused me fear and participatory anxiety. Not now, I just sloughed it off, and you know what? Not only did we not have any “high winds,” we never lost power or internet.
My friend commented on how much progress I have made because I, too, would have been caught up in fear and worry, but I wasn’t at all. I see that as real progress. It may not be perfect, but it’s enough for me, for now.
Let Enough Be Enough
The next time you are judging yourself for not being perfect, stop and look at how far you have come. We tend to blow the bad stuff way out of proportion. So, instead, do a little exaggerating about your wins. Think about all the small ways you are better now than you were before. It’s essential during this difficult time to be gentle with ourselves, nurture our successes, and spread that kindness and empathy to others. Just for today, let enough be enough and celebrate your progress, not perfection.