Your recovery or therapy plan doesn’t need to be perfect.
It doesn’t need to answer all the questions you have about living a productive or happy life.
It doesn’t need to address every single area in which you experience pain.
What is most important about your recovery plan is that it be doable and consistent.
It needs to be comprised of things that you can and will do every day.
It needs to produce results that are realistic and measurable.
I will take an imperfect recovery plan that is made up of realistic, actionable behaviors that you can and will do CONSISTENTLY and can measure the results of, over a hypothetically “perfect” recovery plan that bears no resemblance to reality, any day of the week.
My approach to recovering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addiction, is not dramatic or glamorous.
No joke, sometimes I WISH I had some emotional and behavioral change system that is elegant and marketable, with a catchy name.
(It’d certainly help me out as I try to build this “self help” career.)
But I don’t.
The principles of emotional management and behavior change that I believe in, the ones that I teach to my patients and clients, are nothing new.
I didn’t invent them.
They’re not perfect, and some of them aren’t even particularly well understood by research psychologists.
(Good luck getting research psychologists to ADMIT that, though.)
I believe in getting real about not just what causes behavior, what MAINTAINS behavior.
I believe in being honest with ourselves about what we get out of supposedly negative behavior or painful feelings.
Every behavior is an attempt to scratch an itch, to fill a need. I believe in getting curious about what those needs are.
I believe that a lot of people struggle in recovery because it’s boring and painful, and they’ve never been taught how to manage being bored and uncomfortable.
We HAVE to figure out how to manage our behavior and our feelings even when we don’t feel like it.
(Especially when we don’t feel like it.)
I don’t believe in “grit.” I don’t believe in “willpower.” I don’t believe some people are just “tougher” than others, and that’s why they succeed.
I believe in skills and tools— and that ANYBODY can learn skills and acquire tools. Regardless of whether they are “tough” or have “grit” or “willpower.”
I believe most people just want to feel good.
I believe that many of us have been taught that feeling good is not an important or worthy project.
I believe that people will do what they can to feel good— even if they have to compromise their principles and values to do so.
Feeling good matters. It matters so much that people will throw all sort of caution to the wind to feel good. We’ll take all sorts of chances. We’ll make all sorts of sacrifices.
To try to shame someone for feeing good is like shaming them for wanting to breathe.
Don’t shoot for perfect.
Shoot for doable. Shoot for consistent. Shoot for measurable.
Don’t expect profound, blinding flames of insight and dramatic breakthroughs.
Expect to chip away. Slowly, steadily, on good days and bad days. Just chip, chip, chip away.
Now you see why I’m not a self-help superstar yet. None of that really fits into a flashy marketing campaign.
But it will keep you alive and it will realistically improve your life.
But don’t take my word for it.
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