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How can a survivor of trauma recover from CPTSD? What does it mean to embrace the adequate, and how can that help?

Recovering from CPTSD is possible when you embrace the adequate, meaning that you see yourself as good enough and let go of perfectionism. You can apply the “good enough” mindset to other areas of your life, too.

Continue on to see how changing your mindset can help you recover.

Tip for Healing: Embrace the Adequate

There are numerous tips and tools to help survivors recovering from CPTSD, but the one emphasized most is embracing the adequate: accepting and appreciating things that are “good enough,” instead of throwing them away to look for something perfect. For example, breaking contact with a friend just because they have an annoying habit often does more harm than good. Similarly, leaving a good doctor over a single mistake might leave someone scrambling to find another provider whom they trust. 

Therapists commonly encourage embracing the adequate to preserve important and beneficial relationships, even if they’re not perfect, as in the above examples. However, people should try to apply that mindset to every aspect of their lives: an adequate home, an adequate career, an adequate meal, an adequate vacation, and so on.

Gratitude Versus the Search for ‘More’

Embracing the adequate really means practicing gratitude, but unfortunately, gratitude doesn’t come naturally to most people. To paraphrase Drs. Lieberman and Long (The Molecule of More): We haven’t evolved for gratitude, we’ve evolved for survival. Early humans had to constantly search for food, shelter, and other necessities—taking time to relax and appreciate what they already had wasn’t a good survival strategy. For people with CPTSD, who are stuck in “survival mode” due to their past traumas, it can be even harder to remember and appreciate the good things in their lives. 

Lieberman and Long say that finding the right career or hobby can be crucial in counteracting that instinct to constantly look for “more.” They suggest that people look for something that demands their full attention in the present (so they’re not worrying about the future), but also gives them goals to work toward; having milestones to look forward to helps satisfy the urge to get “more.”

Painting is an excellent example of this. Each brushstroke demands the artist’s full attention, yet the artist also needs to have an idea of what the painting will look like when it’s finished—that final product is the goal they’re working toward. 

Why Embracing the Adequate Helps

Embracing the adequate is especially helpful for people with CPTSD because acceptance and gratitude support every aspect of recovery. 

Psychologically, acceptance and gratitude are a direct counter to the perfectionism and virulent shame that are hallmarks of CPTSD. Each time a survivor embraces the adequate is a time that they don’t give in to the urge to blame and shame themselves for imperfection. 

Emotionally, embracing the adequate helps survivors recognize that their feelings (whatever those feelings are at the moment) are acceptable—that, in turn, helps survivors understand that there’s no need to suppress their emotions or pretend to feel better than they do. 

Socially, understanding that people can make mistakes and still be “good enough” helps survivors build healthy and realistic relationships. 

Physically, embracing the adequate helps CPTSD survivors to stay calm and relaxed, which in turn helps their bodies heal.

Embracing the Adequate Can Help Everyone

While practicing gratitude may be especially helpful for people with CPTSD, it has numerous health benefits that anyone can take advantage of. To give just a couple of examples, various studies over the last 20 years have shown that:

Practicing gratitude improves mental and physical health. People who regularly take time to think about the things they’re grateful for have lower rates of depression and anxiety, higher average self-esteem and life satisfaction, and even lower blood pressure compared to their peers. 

Expressing gratitude builds stronger relationships. People who feel gratitude toward others, and express their gratitude to those people, deepen and strengthen their emotional bonds with them. Doing this regularly helps to create a strong sense of warmth and closeness between friends and loved ones. 
Recovering From CPTSD by Embracing the Adequate

Becca King

Becca’s love for reading began with mysteries and historical fiction, and it grew into a love for nonfiction history and more. Becca studied journalism as a graduate student at Ohio University while getting their feet wet writing at local newspapers, and now enjoys blogging about all things nonfiction, from science to history to practical advice for daily living.

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