Little Things Mean a Lot

“Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” – Steve Jobs, American entrepreneur, marketer and inventor who was the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Apple, Inc. (1955-2011)

We often tend to think that only big and bold actions count toward making progress in recovery. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. It is often in the small and seemingly unimportant actions that we reap the biggest benefits. Take, for example, our making it through the day without giving into the temptation to have another helping of food (a decidedly crucial accomplishment for anyone suffering from an eating disorder), or taking one more prescription medication to banish pain than is recommended. How about going to our support or self-help group meeting despite the fact that we’re miserable, frustrated, tired and don’t think we have the time? This definitely is one of the little things that mean a lot.

In recovery, there’s no doubt we have a lot of items on our to-do list. In fact, doesn’t that list seem to constantly grow and seem somewhat intimidating? There are things that we want for our life in recovery that are long-term goals that we somehow never seem to get around to making a dent in. Then there are those items that more or less fall into the everyday or recovery-oriented routine. Even these may be tough for us to tackle at one time or another.

But they all count.

Maybe the trick is to find the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment and pride in doing the little things rather than beat ourselves up over all the bigger tasks we have yet to master and achieve. This is no small feat, as those of us who have struggled repeatedly to make headway in recovery can well attest.

It’s also understandable that we’d become somewhat disenchanted with our perceived lack of progress if we keep comparing what we’ve been able to achieve to that of another member of our support network. Keep in mind that everyone heals at their own rate and what comes somewhat easily (or appears to) to another may be a bit of a struggle for us.

Also remember that what we do doesn’t have to impact the world for it to be important. If it means something to us, that should be sufficient to qualify it as a meaningful accomplishment.

What else can we do to help overcome our feeling that we’re somehow not making enough progress or that what we have completed isn’t good enough? One thing that may help is to make a list of the actions that we have been successful in completing today. Update it every day and refer to it to see and be able to track the progress we’ve made. Post little notes to encourage further action on our part, putting them in spots that only we have access to. These happy little reminders will serve to motivate us and help us see the bigger picture: being able to achieve our goals in recovery and craft the life in sobriety we so want for ourselves.

Another tip is to share what works for us with others. Everyone in the rooms of recovery can benefit from a little help from their friends. We’re all in this together and the power of community in reinforcement and encouragement is beyond priceless.

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