Frame of Reference / Less-than-perfectionism

jny published on
3 min, 468 words

Categories: Mental Health

Things over the past few weeks have been going well. Well, not “well”, but improving.

A while ago I wrote about “better” vs “Better” but it’s still something that I have to grapple with, not only with other people but with myself.

Today I told my therapist that, though I can’t necessarily feel them, I’ve been doing better just because recently talking with someone helped me to realize that I’ve been taking good steps. Going to the gym, reading, creating, blogging, even facebooking. Small things, but much better than napping all day. And it’s not so much that doing those actions made me better, but that I felt good enough to do those actions.

It doesn’t feel like a victory because things are still really hard a lot of the time, even if it’s less. It feels like I went from -100 to -70, and it’s difficult to be happy about that -70, even if it’s a big shift. (My therapist’s response was “Well, a while ago you said you were at like a -1500, so that’s a change”.) She likened it to temperature, like being outside in -70° weather instead of -100°. It’s better on paper, but it still feels like you’re gonna die, just less quickly. (Dramatic analogy, I know.)


The most encouraging thing that’s happened is something small as well: that I’ve decided to drink more water. It’s something that I’ve known for a long time that would better me in just about every way, but every time I try to commit to it, my brain falls down one rabbit hole after another. If I’m drinking more water, I should really be drinking less soda, otherwise they basically cancel each other out. And I should be eating better too. And so on and so forth, to the point that a dozen goals get tangled up into a giant wad like Christmas lights and I give up on all of them simultaneously.

So. The encouraging bit is that, last week, I had the familiar realization “if I drink more water, it’ll probably help me a lot”, but it was different this time in that it was “if I just drink more water, it will help me some. I’ll drink as much Dr Pepper as I need, eat whatever, but I’ll drink water every day. And if I don’t drink the 3 bottles that is my goal, that’s ok, because even 1 bottle is more than none.”

I can’t express just how different a way of thinking this is for my brain. It’s somehow trained itself for years to be all-or-nothing, black and white, to extrapolate everything to the point of perfectionism. It’s not the water that’s encouraging, it’s the thinking. The being ok with less than perfection.