“Do your best.” A loaded phrase at best. Sometimes people say it to make us feel better about a situation: “Well, you did your best.” Parents say it to encourage children: “Just do your best.” The problem is it leaves us wondering, “Could I have done better?”
We are ALWAYS doing our best. It is the nature of our being and our reality. We are doing the best we can with what we have at the present moment, ALWAYS.
“Do your best” is the same as saying “Be you.”
The usual response when I suggest this to someone is, “No, I could have done better. I didn’t try very hard.” Just because in a different moment you might have the personal resources to put in more effort does NOT mean that you did not do your best at that moment.
When we realize we ALWAYS do our best, whether we think we do or not, the layer of judgement disappears, and we can look at any situation in terms of growth.
Judgement often shows up in the form of regret. If you find yourself regretting something you did or said, remember you did your best and see what you can learn. Why do you regret it? What is the energy around your regret? The regret is not a signal that you did something wrong, but rather that You want you to notice something. “You” with a capital Y is the clear you, the real you, the you who knows you are perfect. You with a capital Y communicates through the body. When we feel regret, there is a physical sensation that is impossible to ignore, quite often in our stomachs. It wants to tell you something. Take a minute to listen.
Try this exercise to transform regret into growth:
- Think of a situation you regret. Let your body fill up with the regret. Sit with it for one minute. I like to set a timer. Don’t get a cup of coffee or a glass of water or a snack. Don’t check your texts or emails. Just feel the regret for one single minute.
- Now take out pen and paper or open up the notes app on your phone, and make a list of every reason you regret the situation. If you use your phone, you can dictate it.
- I hate that I…
- I wish I had…
- I feel bad because…
- Keep going until you cannot think of any more reasons.
- Look at your list. Is there one reason that really stands out? Is there a theme? What are You trying to tell you?
- Write one concrete step you can take to grow in the direction you desire.
- Each time you do this exercise, keep a separate list of what you learn and refer to the list often. It takes repetition to turn something new into an integrated part of ourselves. We often have to keep learning the same thing over and over. Keep listening and each time you will learn a little more.