Importance of Recognizing Progress in RecoveryBy
“It is important to give yourself credit for all your successes, no matter how small. If you wait to get to the end of the healing process, until you’re ‘finished,’ before you recognize your progress, you’ll wait forever. Each small step is a building block, and accomplishment in and of itself, and by acknowledging each step along the way you make room for further growth”. Courage to heal workbook by Laura Davis.
I thought it would be fun to pool my thoughts with Christina Enevoldsen and Patty Hite from Overcoming Sexual Abuse on this post about rewarding ourselves and recognizing our progress along the way on the journey to the other side of broken.
Christina Enevoldsen writes:
“I learned as a child to think in terms of my inadequacies, so I discounted any progress if it fell short of where I wanted or expected to be. I couldn’t see how far I’d come; only how far I still had to go. I’d verbally flog myself after I finished anything. I secretly hoped that if I put myself down, others would disagree with me and come to my defense. I thought if I focused on my flaws, I’d keep improving and wouldn’t get complacent with my achievements. Trying to be good enough felt like it was a life or death battle.
A big part of my healing from sexual abuse has been to accept my weaknesses and love myself in the midst of them. I know I’m just as valuable right now as I will be when I’m all bright and shiny at the end of this process. That helps me to accept not only myself right now, but my work right now. I approve of my progress. Even if it’s a little thing, it came from me and that makes it good. It’s the baby steps that are the foundation of healing and any other successes in life. Those things that look like gigantic leaps to others are really just a lot of baby step strung together. Others may not be very impressed with me or with what I do, but I know where I came from. I know what it’s taken me to get to this place. And I’m DAMN impressed.”
Patty Meyer Hite writes:
h step along the way you make room for further growth.” Courage to Heal WB by Laura Davis
“I too had a hard time acknowledging my achievements in the beginning. Especially when all we focus on are the bad things that has happened to us and the whys and the why not’s. It’s hard to focus on “how far we have come.”
But it is soooooo important to. I compared myself to my kids. Every little thing they do, as children, is exciting. They learn how to tie a shoe, how to write their names, how to read a book. They learn a new cheer or they caught a fly ball. With every triumph, we as parents should encourage them. I would clap my hands, tell them how proud I was of them and always give them a hug. Sometimes, I would pat them on the back, tell them, “Way to go”, and take them out for pizza. Compliments were big in my house toward my kids. They still are even though the kids are now adults.
We need this. We need a pat on the back, a “job well done” and a special treat. Even if our parents (especially if our parents) didn’t do it for us, it is time to do it for ourselves. If no one is there to encourage our efforts, we need to do it ourselves. We are valuable and we deserve it!”
Darlene Ouimet writes:
Self acknowledgement was a huge problem for me. I never gave myself credit for anything because nothing was ever good enough. Nothing was ever good enough for me because when I was a kid nothing was ever good enough for them. (teachers, parents, elders) I was conditioned to try harder no matter what I was trying for. It was the slow process of not being acknowledged for achievements that wore me down. It isn’t that I was always told I my efforts were not good enough; sometimes it was just that nothing was said. Sometimes it was a frown, sometimes it was a scowl, or an impatient huff. So I tried harder to get what I considered to be approval. A smile or any kind of approval or acknowledgement that I was even there would have gone miles towards my self esteem. This was not the case, so I learned to try harder and never rest or be satisfied with my effort. I learned to believe that I was never enough in almost every area of my life.
One time my therapist asked me to write a list of my accomplishments ~ to write down anything and everything I had ever done that I felt good about starting at about the age of 18. I thought I was going to throw up at the very idea of doing that exercise. I was sure that I was going to have to come back the next week and tell him there was nothing. What I realized is that there was nothing I could write down that I believed was good enough. When I looked at the origins of that belief, and saw where it came from and how it developed, I was able to write down some of the things that I felt good about, and then what happened that caused me to feel not good enough afterwards. I saw that I let others continue to suck my joy and ask me for more even after I left my childhood family. By then, if my efforts were good enough, I told myself it wasn’t good enough; I looked for ways that I could have done more, done better and I no longer trusted anyone who was pleased with my efforts.
Shortly after this project that I did for my self growth and recovery, with the help of my therapist I set a few goals. When I accomplished the first really big one, my therapist suggested that I reward myself. I didn’t know how. I realized that I didn’t know how to give myself a pat on the back OR any other type of credit. I was so stuck and once again scared about “not doing it right or good enough”. For several weeks he asked me if I had chosen my reward, and I resisted. We ended up having to spend some time talking about HOW to reward myself.
That first reward is in my living room and each day I see it, I remember “I can”. I can take care of myself, I am worthy, I can do anything that I put my mind to. I can overcome the past. I can fly. I can emerge from broken and have a new life. And I DID and I DO.
What are your thoughts about acknowledging yourself? Does it make you uncomfortable? Does it make you feel weird? Does it come easy? Please feel free to share your experience with us and our readers.