Friday, November 1, 2013

Perfect not.

Should practice of movement after stroke concentrate on perfection. I guess. But what stroke survivor is going to be perfect? This was addressed in an earlier entry. To quote that entry: "There is a small but vocal group of therapists who believe that if you don't focus on quality you may as well not practice."

I disagree. Why should the practice be perfect when the next step should be better. If you look way up to perfect there's too much room to say "Forget it. Too hard." And you have every excuse to forget it because it will be too hard.

Focus on the small goals ahead of you, not perfection. 

There is a great blog called Seth's Blog. He has an entry that might be helpful. In it he says,

"Growth is messy and dangerous. Life is messy and dangerous. When we insist on a guarantee, an ever-increasing standard in everything we measure and a Hollywood ending, we get none of those."

 In another entry he quotes someone as saying, "I find myself getting uninterested/unmotivated on projects that I start. The emotion of deciding to start has faded and the results are slow to keep me motivated." He answers this plateau by saying, "The real work comes after the novelty wears off." Like me, Seth is not a big fan of perfection mostly because it gets in the way of forward movement. Here are some more Seth quotes about perfection and perfect:

  • Perfection is overrated, particularly if it keeps you from trying things that are interesting.
  • Perfect doesn't mean flawless. Perfect means it does exactly what I need it to do.
  • The object isn’t to be perfect. The goal isn’t to hold back until you’ve created something beyond reproach. I believe the opposite is true. Our birthright is to fail and to fail often, but to fail in search of something bigger than we can imagine. To do anything else is to waste it all.
  • Perfect is the enemy of good. [Voltaire] No doubt about it.
And on and on... Still some readers of this blog have chimed in and what they say has value (as pulled from the comments section)...

Blogger Linda said... ...if not precision perhaps focus seems like a good idea to me. 

Pete: Agree! Head towards challenging, not perfection.

Scott Gallagher said... If I'm ever going to get someone to do what it might take, I'm going to have to convince them that “thousands of miles” and “millions of repetitions” is unremarkable enough (and it is) for them to go ahead and spend a few short years to knock 'em out.

Pete: Is there anything to be said for that "few years" beyond "I practiced." Was it interesting in any way? Was there a spiritual element? Did it test you in new ways that helped you grow or know yourself (or others) better?

Barb Polan said...Give me reps over quality anytime. remember: some stroke survivors can't do ANYTHING. the expectation of high quality is absurd. And damaging.

Pete: Forgive therapists; they've not had a stroke. The expectation of high quality is absurd, for most survivors. And for survivors who are nudging up against high quality movements, then great! But most survivors will not hedge high quality but the rules remain the same: Get better.

12 comments:

Tamara said...

I'm a perfectionist and it's hard for me not being perfect at the moment. Recently I read a great line I try to keep in mind: Focus on progress, not perfection.

Scott Gallagher said...

In your post you had a question about my recovery, “Is there anything to be said for that 'few years' beyond 'I practiced?'." This question goes to the heart of my last four years, but the answer might be surprising to the stroke community. What can be said, simply, is that the journey became more than the destination. The one thing that I now know with 100% certainty that differs with mainstream therapy and stroke recovery is that stroke recovery is not just a physical activity, it's first and foremost a mental one. It's the mind that leads the way to recovery, pushing the mental effort, defining and adapting to the challenges, employing thought, creativity and imagination to sustain the drive, and providing deeper meaning to the entire endeavor. So my first priority was always to develop the mind. I know some about stroke recovery and rehabilitation, but not a whole lot. I know much more about components of the mind: positive psychology, the mind-body connection, post-traumatic growth, willpower and resilience, with readings of classical and modern philosophy. I also have a firm belief of traditional character elements such as determination, perseverance, and discipline that I don't think are applied often by therapists and others in the medical professions. Combining all these and putting them into practice against the rigors of stroke and stroke recovery gave me a wisdom and learning experience that was priceless, and changed the chances of recovery from unlikely to inevitable. In the end, if I had to choose between full physical recovery and all the wisdom and inner strength I've gained over the past several years, I'd have to go back to the wheelchair. Thanks.

Tamara said...

I feel the same way Scott! Edgar Cayce said something like "Mind is builder....". I often feel this is ignored in rehab facilities. I know my hemiparesis isn't caused by psychosomatic causes alone, but there's a definite mind-body relation. I'm often angry when I fail to do something simple again or that it takes me so much time. A while ago I saw a You Tube video by Abraham-Hicks (channelling) who talk about the Law of Attraction. She pointed out that everything you want is upstream, just go with the flow. Paddling hard to go upstream is not the way. I try to keep that in mind when I'm struggling again. Law of Attraction also says: Whatever you think about you bring about. In my case that's more painful spasms. I focus too much on what I don't want. My goal is still full physical recovery. I get to keep all the wisdom and inner strength.

Tamara said...

As a perfectionist I have to correct my mistake: Abraham-Hicks said that everything you want is downstream (not upstream), you've got to go with the flow. Very hard for a control freak.

Elizabeth, John and Jack said...

Tamara,
My husband is a huge fan of the Abraham-hicks philosophy, me not so much. I personally think that "fighting" for change, is often the only way towards progress. "Going with the flow" might be ok for some things in life, but stroke recovery is unlikely to happen spontaneously or by "willing it"alone....those with the best recoveries fought for it, long and hard, never giving up or backing down.

Tamara said...

Elizabeth: I also feel that when I'm fighting hard in my recovery, my painful spasms increase. Maybe in my case (subarachnoid bleed in jan. 2009) it's better to relax and go with the flow. I put up a LOT of resistance and that causes pain and diminishes my mobility.
Abraham-Hicks and people like Louise Hay are like an antidepressant for me.

Elizabeth, John and Jack said...

You are your own expert, so if it makes you feel better that's wonderful and the right thing for you. I do like some parts of their teachings, I just leave out what's not right for me. I wish you continued recovery and happiness always!

Billy Ethridge said...

I had a massive hemorrhagic stroke 5 years ago with total right side hemiplegia and several types of aphasia (initially including being totally unable to talk).

I have been fortunate in healing quite a bit, largely through a combination of (1) daily mindfulness meditation,(2) excellent nutrition (near vegan), (3)adequate sleep and rest, (4) ongoing visualization of myself moving with grace, elegance & power, and (5) regular,systematic & thorough exercise of my body.

Tamara said...

Good to read from a super survivor like you, Billy! I think I'm going to try meditation and visualisation now, at least once a day. I've come across meditation now so many times, but I kept resisting, because every attempt just makes me angrier and more frustrated. But I also resisted a walker for a long time, but I've found it very useful to improve my gait.

Elizabeth Apple said...

Peter, As a pre-stroke perfectionist who had to throw out that game plan and go with "good enough" starting 11.5 years ago post-stroke, I agree with you completely EXCEPT when it comes to physical movement. Our pre-stroke bodies are well balanced machines that move effortlessly. If we don't strive for regaining perfection in our movements eventually problems with start to show up with our knees, hips, shoulders, etc. I experienced severe ataxia and balance issues after a massive cerebellum/occipital stroke. I continue to work on perfecting my gait issues and have the support and encouragement of my neurologist and therapists.

Elizabeth Apple said...

Peter, As a pre-stroke perfectionist who had to throw out that game plan and go with "good enough" starting 11.5 years ago post-stroke, I agree with you completely EXCEPT when it comes to physical movement. Our pre-stroke bodies are well balanced machines that move effortlessly. If we don't strive for regaining perfection in our movements eventually problems with start to show up with our knees, hips, shoulders, etc. I experienced severe ataxia and balance issues after a massive cerebellum/occipital stroke. I continue to work on perfecting my gait issues and have the support and encouragement of my neurologist and therapists.

Elizabeth Apple said...

I absolutely agree with Scott regarding the importance of the psychological impact on stroke recovery. My feeling is that recovery is somewhere around 40% physical and 60% psychological.

Regarding striving for perfection in movement. I feel "correct" would be a better term. When relearning to sit/stand, walk/run, post-stroke, my therapists always stressed correct form. Relearning movement incorrectly causes stress on knees, hips, backs, etc. So I never minded the form critique. At least I knew what the goal was even if it look me a while, and a lot of practice, to get my movement correct. I never found that to be a demotivator; however, musicians are used to a lot of practice and striving for perfection. Great work ethic for stroke recovery?

Blog Archive