Poems and Phantasms

Counting Victory


How many days have you been successful with a personal goal? Do you only count consecutive perfection? If you back-slide for one day, does it mean you’re starting over? In a recent conversation with my daughter about her new healthy habit efforts, I brought up my dark nail-biting past. (It was more appropriate to share than my disordered eating history, but trust me…I am no stranger to trauma and recovery.)

“If you mess up, it doesn’t mean you are at zero again. Just skip that day and keep counting on the next successful day.” I’m pretty sure my advice goes against the sobriety-tracking culture of the 12-Step Anonymous programs, but I believe it’s healthier to honor every day, hour, and even minute of progress. All-or-nothing pressure is a mental health bully. Better to be gentle with ourselves as we heal, yes?

I’m a musician, so I believe in practice. Practice cannot be erased; the skills you build are there in your muscle memory. Long lapses may make them fade, but they can come back with more practice. Persistence is the key. 

If you miss a day and bite your nails, they might be at zero level again…but YOU aren’t. You became stronger with every moment of resistance. Nothing can take that away.

If you go against your better judgement and do the thing or fail to do the thing, it’s just a momentary slip. You’re still on the path, you just fell down in that spot. Look behind you—you’ve come a long way already. So pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and keep going.

Comments on: "Counting Victory" (3)

  1. Hello, I really appreciate this article. We do not have to condemn ourselves for our mistakes. We can recognize our mistake and choose to have compassion on ourselves. I was very self condemning and the transition to self compassion has been a more helpful way to grow and stay focused on my personal goals!

    • Hi Justina, Thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I agree with everything you said. Yes, compassion is truly more helpful (and therefore more effective, which appeases my perfectionist tendencies). 🙂 Peace to you.

  2. Theresa Blain said:

    Thanks for sharing. I saw and read this when you posted it on FB, 😊 glad to see that you are actively updating the blog. It suggests that you have cleared out your inbox enough to be writing!

    Your gift of transmuting your own difficult experiences into comfort and encouragement for others is expressed by both the writing and the spirit of the message. I hear your poet’s voice in the essay, using an economy of words and a light touch suited for uplifting a heavy heart.

    Right now my own heart has been lifted by a series of rich conversations with my family at the start of the week, and deeply healing and empowering experiences over the weekend. I’m looking forward to sharing, and to hearing what’s been going on with you, too.


    Teri Blain 708-280-4417

    Sent from my iPhone


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