Despite the glaring differences between perfectionism and addiction, the two frequently go hand-in-hand. Perfectionists typically have somewhat unrealistic expectations of themselves, and black-and-white thinking leads them to abruptly give up on themselves if their anticipations are not met in full. Often times this leads to drug and alcohol use – a harsh mentality of ‘I’ll never be good enough’ frequently leads perfectionists to throw in the towel and resort to shame-numbing substance abuse. A true perfectionist will inevitably fall short of his or her impossibly high ideals, and turn to drug use or other forms of self-injurious behaviors as a way to both punish and cope with consistent feelings of unbearable inadequacy. While most perfectionists know logically that they cannot possibly achieve ‘perfection’ – a concept that is, in itself, abstract – they constantly strive for what they believe to be faultlessness, thus are repeatedly disappointed.
How To Let Go Of Your Perfectionistic Qualities
- Build a solid sober support system – lean on others.
The more time you spend with other individuals in recovery, the more likely you are to learn that making mistakes is a natural part of the healing process.
- See a therapist regularly.
For some individuals, perfectionistic standards may seem productive and healthy, when they are realistically doing far more harm than good. Talking with a therapist on a weekly basis will help you to ground your thinking and put things into perspective.
- Work on building up your self-esteem.
Self-esteem should not be based exclusively on personal achievements. You can build self-esteem by engaging in activities you enjoy, helping others, or further learning to accept yourself just the way you are.
- Celebrate the little accomplishments.
In recovery, the grey areas in between the black-and-white bear the most significance. Celebrate your courage and your willingness, and every day you go without picking up a drink or a drug.
- Experiment with potential alternatives.
Be flexible – relinquish control. You may be surprised to find that allowing plans to change and going with the flow will result in an overall better quality of life.
Perfectionism Can Greatly Harm Recovery Efforts
Those who do not get a handle on their perfectionistic qualities early on in recovery may face some seriously detrimental adversity. Recovery itself is a process of personal acceptance and growth – but for the active perfectionist, attempting to stay sober and grow personally becomes a challenge that if not completed immaculately will destroy the confidence of the addict entirely, and affect his or her overall motivation to heal. Because of this, many addicts and alcoholics with perfectionistic qualities have a hugely difficult time coming back after relapse, and some are deterred from getting help at all. It is of utmost importance that you tackle your perfectionism while receiving treatment for addiction, seeing as failing to do both simultaneously may result in devastation. Go easy on yourself! You are allowed to make mistakes, everyone does. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.