We are all doing our best.
Could that statement possibly be true? Or are we holding back? Do we commonly have the perception that others are not doing their best? Do we see others as not living up to the standards that we have set for ourselves? Are we often guilty of falling short of those same standards? But even when we fail and fall short of what we expect of ourselves, is it possible, even in those moments, that we are doing our best?
In her book Rising Strong (which I haven’t read, but my wife recommends), Brené Brown quotes a response from her husband Steve after she asked him if he believed that everyone was doing the best that they could. I thought his reply was worth sharing. Steve 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.”
Let’s read most of that quote again, “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.”
When we let go of our judgements we are much more easily able to be present in the moment, to be with what is happening right now. We are able to view our reality with less bias and can tap into a better solution for many issues that arise. (And we often realize that many things aren’t even issues at all.)
This often means we respond with more compassion, more kindness and patience, more wisdom. We are able to put the best version of ourselves forward and feel confident in our place within society.
But? (Of course there is a ‘but’.) But what about the judgments that we heap on ourselves? There are times that we cannot help but judge ourselves, our thoughts, our actions negatively. And it would be insincere for us to just continued on as if nothing ‘wrong’ had happened. That’s because we feel it. We feel the ugliness of it. It sits with us and we cannot shake that our words and/or actions have let us down.
Maybe we have said something very unkind to our partner, maybe we have disciplined our children a little too harshly, maybe we have rushed through a moment with a colleague that we knew they felt was important because we had our own to-do list on our mind. So, maybe later in the day or week or at 3:24am on Monday morning the ruminating begins and the self-flagellation and the ridiculous story lines that run through your head take over. We spend time berating ourselves over our thoughtlessness, our anger, our impatience and we allow the negative story lines to snowball, sometimes becoming an incapacitating avalanche of hostility towards ourselves. We know we could have done better, feel we should have done better.
But instead of beating ourselves up over it, how can we move forward in a more positive way? Taking what we can from those moments where we came up short of our own expectations. Learning from them and preparing to do better next time.
My objective here is to start conversations. To get fathers talking. To improve and empower. Please comment below or send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let Love Rule,