2_Doing Better_o3

Accepting that we are always doing the best we can with the consciousness available to us in this moment and celebrating the baby steps along the way of our unfolding. 

Doing Better

You really are doing the best you can in this moment.
If you could do better, you would do better. Trust that always!

I remember being both puzzled and pained by my report cards in public school. With rare exceptions (most of them in the works-well-with-others category) I received my school's equivalent of A's. Yet, every report period the comment section always included some words about how I could do better.

Each time, though feeling somewhat deflated, I returned to my schoolwork with intensified zeal. I kept hoping my teachers would some day acknowledge that I was doing my best. It never happened. Without fail, along with the A's, there would be the same old "could do better" note.  And, each time, I would think that, despite how it felt inside of me, maybe I really hadn't done my best or done enough after all.

Years later, I got 99 and 97 on my New York State Regents exams in high school chemistry and advanced algebra. When my parents asked me "what happened to the other four points?" it didn't feel like the joke they meant it to be. Instead, it felt like another of the endless stream of messages that I could/should do better.

As I moved on through the first 30-some years of my life, I (no surprise here) took up the same chant. Having fully internalized the message, I was never able to look with pride or even simple acknowledgment at any of my accomplishments in either the external or internal realms of my life. Nothing I ever did seemed enough in itself. There was always more I felt that I shoulda-coulda-woulda done if I were really to be doing my best.

When I was 32, I abruptly ran out of any mores I could imagine doing.  In an "Aha!" moment, I understood that all the mores in the world wouldn't be enough to prove that I was really doing my best or that I was enough just as I was. For the first time I saw that it was the standard of measure I'd learned that was at fault, not me. I had learned never to see anything I had already done as either my best or enough, simply because I had already done it.

I had been conditioned by the bizarre but mostly unquestioned cultural notion that praise (our own or anyone else's) gives us an inflated sense of our selves. The notion being that praise encourages us to rest complacently on our laurels while intimations that we could do better keep us motivated. This conditioning had left me unable to recognize that I was always doing the best I could. And, it left me unable to recognize that I was doing the best I could because that was and is my very nature.

None of us are (as that conditioning would lead us to believe) lazy slugs who would never do anything in our lives were it not for external prodding and fear of censure. Our actual natures move irrepressibly toward growth. The odd bends and twists that our growing may take have mostly to do with our beings' attempts to survive and thrive in the face of imposed obstacles: like the shapes of trees that twist and bend to reach toward the light in a crowded forest.

It is our basic nature to do the best we can with the capacities and consciousness we have available to us at each moment. As our capacities and consciousness evolve and grow, our best will grow better, too. Acknowledging and celebrating all the baby steps along the way helps to nourish this unfolding.

Remember to lovingly remind your self that you're always doing the best you can in this moment.
Consider being loving and tender with your in-this-moment self.