We have more and more demands and expectations placed upon us each day. We feel like we need to do more and be more. It feels like everyone else is managing it all and you’re the only one failing. Well, I call BS.
In Brene Brown’s book, Rising Strong, she tells a story of when she was complaining to her therapist about an interaction she had with another lady. Brene was completely aghast and furious with this lady’s actions. Brene’s therapist suggested that maybe this lady was doing the best she could. Brene’s gut reaction was to reject this idea.
Later, Brene was out to lunch with a friend. The topic of breastfeeding came up and Brene’s friend was insistent that is was unacceptable to not breastfeed your children. Brene, who’d struggled with breastfeeding and eventually stopped, shrunk and wanted to say, “but I did the best I could!” Finally, she understood what her therapist was trying to tell her.
When Brene asked her husband if he thought everyone was doing the best they could, he said,
” “I don’t know. I really don’t. All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.” His answer felt like truth to me. Not an easy truth, but truth.” ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong
Later in the book, Brene says,
“I assumed that people weren’t doing their best so I judged them and constantly fought being disappointed, which was easier than setting boundaries.” ― Brené Brown, Rising Strong
Like Brene, I fought this concept when I first read Rising Strong. I spent a long time mulling it over in the back of my mind. I was going through a difficult time with a co-worker and after careful consideration, I had to admit that though I didn’t appreciate her actions, I do think she was doing the best she could, taking into account her life experiences and the things she was struggling with.
Once I could accept the belief that those around me were doing the best that they could, I had to turn the concept onto myself. Am I doing the best I can? I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not perfect and far from achieving all I want and think I’m capable of, but I do think I’m doing the best I can each day.
This has become my own internal mantra when I want to be hard on myself for not doing more and being more, “I’m doing the best I can”.
It’s also become my line when I fall short of someone else’s expectations. This doesn’t mean that I’m giving myself permission to slack off or let people down. Rather I’m giving myself permission to be kind to myself. I can always do better, and I strive to do better, but when I inevitably fall short, I tell myself, “I’m doing the best I can” because it’s the truth.
Right now our house is looking a little worse for wear. But you know what? I’m working full-time and am 6 months pregnant, and my husband, who has renal failure, isn’t always able to help around the house. Plus we live in the desert and it’s 105+ these days, so there’s no way we’re getting anything done outside. And that’s okay. I know our situation and I know we’re doing the best we can.
No one should be made to feel like they’re not good enough, the truth is, we’re all doing the best we can. When we know better, we do better. But in the meantime, our best is all we can do, so it must be good enough.