Do you suffer from compare and despair and always forget to focus on progress as I do?

Why oh why do I compare and despair? It’s not healthy and much of the time I can outthink that silly rabbit hole. But, occasionally (last week) I found myself bereft because I forgot to do that same thing for myself. I did a compare and despair and it shook me to the core. Here’s the problem, 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

See, it’s really not about the time, money, or perceived success. It’s about progress and self-esteem. For example, if you want to say write a book, then efforts need to be made towards that goal. If you do not work on that book and a year later there’s no book, then there’s no one to blame but yourself. If a year later, there’s a book, or even an outline but no considerable book deal, well, that’s a success. You’ve done the part you can control. To feel bad about the piece you can’t control is pointless. And, this is a true story. I’m writing a new book and working on getting that deal done. This is hard. Few people get this done so I need to feel proud that I’ve gotten this far. How and when the deal come is something I cannot control.

Point is, I’m closer today to selling that book than I was a year ago. A year ago, the book didn’t even exist. That’s a lot of work while also managing a website, teaching other books, writing screenplays, and creating my new non-profit. Do you see where I’m going here? For me to feel ashamed is CRAZY. But, my alcoholic character defect is to only see what I haven’t accomplished–to punish myself over the things I can’t control. That is useless and insane. The perspective I want to have moving forward is, wow, I accomplished a lot and am closer to all these goals. Yay for me! We’ll see how that initiative goes…

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

This is the other perspective that brought me relief last night. 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. When I think about that, I’m overwhelmed with what I’ve accomplished this past year. I have improved my health. Seriously, I learned to drink water this year, improved my 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 in this past year I just didn’t get all the results I want.

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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