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For as long as I can remember, I’ve had high expectations of myself.
Consciously and unconsciously.
No matter how much I try to shift it, I’m a perfectionist—which is painful and hard and a lesson I’m desperate to let go of. Because no matter how much that unconscious part of me longs to meet that idealized ideal in my mind, I know that it won’t happen.
The logical, rational part of me knows perfection doesn’t exist.
The feeling part inside of me, though, still desperately wants to believe that it does. I have, after all, spent my life striving for it—evaluating myself in relation to how I stack up to it.
I’ve spent years softly unraveling from self-judgment, from that demanding, often seemingly intolerant, voice inside my head. Years of sitting through barrages of negativity that seem to be aimed at simply trying to make me feel bad—an apparent attempt to keep me from trying anything at all.
It was painful at first to sit there and listen to the words that voice would speak—she could be so mean. But through time and attention and awareness, I learned how to distance from her.
I learned she’s not me.
Her voice might sound like me, but I know her words are not mine.
Over time, I’ve cultivated a warmth toward myself—a kindness, a gentleness, a loving understanding.
A knee-jerk reaction to be loving.
Even when I can feel myself wanting to judge myself for not knowing something or for not doing something I think I should have been able to, I almost instantly internally respond with a warmer, more nurturing, “It’s okay. We’re okay. We’re learning.”
I think so many of us are like this. It seems to be something that affects too many of us.
And it’s something I hope we can all soften and let go of.
Life is a process; it’s a continuous unfolding. We all have lessons, and we’re learning. We’re all just doing the best we can.
If we knew better before, we would have done better. If we knew better right now, we’d do better now.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou
Whenever I feel upset or uncomfortable about something—about something I am doing (or not doing), something I don’t know that I feel I should—I say these words to myself:
I’m doing the best I can.
Whenever I say these words, my whole body softens. My mind softens. I soften.
Whatever tense energy that was occupying my space softens; it dissolves.
Because my soul knows it’s true.
We can only ever do our best.
We can’t know more than we know. We can’t do more than we’re currently capable of. We can’t do better than our best.
It’s easy to judge in hindsight: ah, I should have…I could have…If only I’d known, I would have…Why didn’t I…How could I not have….I wish I’d…and so on.
But we did the best we could in those moments.
And if we try our best in these current moments—in all of our moments—if we’re true and pure with that intention and action, then that is all we can do.
And that is beautiful.
Let these words soothe you in the moments when you’re struggling or you don’t feel like you’re measuring up in some way that you think that you should:
I’m doing the best I can.
Say these words. Feel them. Breathe into them.
Allow them to sink into you.
And see how you feel.