Do you forget to focus on progress and lose yourself in compare and despair?

I know better than to compare and despair. It’s a waste of time and gets me into trouble every single time. But, occasionally I find myself bereft because I forgot my own advice and I did a compare and despair. Here’s the thing, I’m not someone who should be comparing myself to anyone but myself. The only thing that should matter is, how is my progress coming along. How are my projects going, has my mental health and spiritual life grown, and things like that?

Better to be a work in progress than live in the same boring dysfunction

That being said, let’s get into the work in progress. For a person in recovery, it helps to keep working on yourself and your personal development. I heard it described once as being on an escalator going down–if you stop climbing, you will start going back. I don’t want to revert back to who I was or regress into old bad behavior. So forward we work and climb. One way to keep the comparing away is to be working on yourself and tracking progress. Any kind of goal will do, physical, nutrition, recovery, personal, romantic, just give yourself something to work on and markers to hit. When you have growth to focus on you feel better.

Limit exposure to triggers

If looking at the social media accounts of certain people is making you go bananas, you have to stop looking. The best way to keep your self-esteem up is to limit the content that will make you feel badly about yourself. Mute accounts that trigger you, don’t attend events that might make you feel inferior, and remember not to compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.

Always count your blessings and return to gratitude

There are so many people all over the world who are living in terrible conditions. From wartorn countries to people living at the poverty level to starvation, we have to remember that if we have a place to live and enough to eat, we are winning at this life. A good perspective will truly help so remember that you have a lot to be grateful for and happy about.

What can you do today that you couldn’t do a year ago?

This is the other perspective that brings me relief. I’m a constant improver, which means I’m always trying to get better. At everything. Improve my spiritual life, improve my health, physical being, recovery, relationships, and on and on. This past year I have improved my health, and diet, and cut out so much processed food I shocked myself. And, what everyone says is true. You feel better when you eat right. I also got into the best physical shape I’ve been in since my spinal surgery a decade ago. That is an accomplishment too. Truth is, I did everything I said I would this past year I just didn’t get all the results I want. Sometimes you can do all the work in the world and not get your desired results, so take pride in the progress. What have you done this year? What can you do today that couldn’t a year ago? I bet there’s more than you think.

The moral? Goals need to be things you can achieve on your own. The results are a whole other matter. The feeling of failure is not helpful when you feel bad about things that you can’t manage. I accomplished my goals and I’m going to quit the compare and despair because I deserve more today.

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Lindsey Glass

Lindsey Glass is the co-founder of Reach Out Recovery. Her 2016 ASAM Media Award winning documentary, The Secret World Of Recovery, has helped to lift the stigma from addiction and recovery and is used in recovery programs nationwide to show what life is like on the other side of addiction. Lindsey's teen prevention documentary, The Silent Majority, was distributed to PBS stations nationwide by American Public Television in 2014-15. Lindsey has written dozens of popular articles on recovery. She is a recovery advocate and frequent keynote speaker. Lindsey is the author of 100 Tips for Growing Up, My 20 Years of Recovery, 2019. Before focusing on recovery, Lindsey was a TV and screenwriter. She has worked in publishing, web development, and marketing.

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