All or none, black and white approaches are common among perfectionists. And these approaches are rarely effective.
The gray area between black and white is where the majority of experience resides. How do we tell if we can live with grays versus when it has to be all black or all white?
The first determinant is to set realistic goals. When we are up to bat with two outs in the bottom of the final inning with the game tied, we can set the goal to get on base as part of a team effort to win or we can swing for a homerun to be the hero.
If we’ve never hit a homer, then that would be an unrealistic goal.
We are big fans of under-promise and over-deliver. Why tell our spouse, “We’ll make the best dinner you ever ate,” or tell the boss, “We’ll finish the report a week early and with no errors” when we can simply agree to cook, when we can agree to meet the original deadline?
Let’s say we finish the report five days before the original deadline. That could have wowed the boss if we hadn’t gotten too aggressive and promised it a week early.
What if we don’t know what’s a realistic goal? (Will we heal from PTSD?) Trusting an expert may help. Therapists tell us, “Everyone’s different, and recovery for you will likely be measured in years.”
Ugh. Not a death sentence per se–more of a living sentence: your life might get better in ___ years.
Our goal is to improve over time and eventually lead a life worth living.
Course assessment: therapists say, “We see improvement.”
We say, “It’s not enough.”
We can’t hit a homerun to heal quickly. The only way way to “go big” is to quit: cease therapy or cease living (this is not a threat).
We can choose to stay the course, the long, winding, painful road of healing.
Or we can change course: new therapist(s) or alter the combo of therapists.
We choose to change course. If we quit, our odds of achieving our goals diminish precipitously. If we stay the course, we may or may not reach the finish line. We are not appreciating the pace of our results (no blame).
By changing course, we’re willing to risk an even slower healing in order to potentially heal more quickly.
Changing course might not work, which affords us the same 3 choices with a twist: we may learn that our original course is the best path and we can get back on it. Therefore, changing course would help improve the situation (in terms of focus and satisfaction). Or, we may learn to envision a new course.
Gray areas are like dimmer switches. They give us so many options. Sometimes developing a dimmer switch can help us meet our goals with more satisfaction, if not more expedience.