Are You Doing the Best You Can?

Vacations to the North Shore always makes me pensive. Most mornings start out the same. I watch the sunrise from my deck. I make myself coffee and drink it out of my earth-colored hand-thrown mug, ridged with imperfections and made with love. The waves are hypnotic and do their best to drown out my overactive brain.

Trying to Pause. Slowing down isn’t something I’m good at. Lyrics from the Lion King capture it perfectly:
From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There’s more to see than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done

Can you relate?

Russell Brand’s interview with Brené Brown recently re-surfaced. In it, they were discussing if they believed if – generally – people were doing the best they can, or if they weren’t. The recovering perfectionist in me may always lean towards “No way, people aren’t doing the best they can” yet I find myself deep in thought this morning about several difficult situations I have gone through in my life. If I look at the situation with kindness and compassion, I am forced to acknowledge that, well, yes I really was doing the best that I could at that moment.

Those nostalgic, difficult memories aren’t easy to sit with, and most people don’t. They numb or avoid through a plethora of coping mechanisms. Remembering the arguments, lost love, and unraveling of trust is disruptive and painful.

Many of these difficult memories are steeped in shame, blame and intolerance. Having the capacity to hold space for two conflicting ideas is a skill, so is having the language to respectfully rumble with another person. Lessons in everything… responses and reactions, willingness and rigidity, even acceptance and denial.

What does that mean to believe that people are doing the best they can at any given moment? Well, for me, it is a reckoning. Shifting the burden of judgment off of the individual, I’m responsible for the reframe. I’m responsible to extend kindness, and compassion, and humanity to that person. If I am doing the best I can at any given moment, then believing others are as well should help shift my own perspective.

And what if you are your harshest critic? Ah friend, come and sit next to me in solidarity. I’ll hold space for you. Self-compassion is the Holy Grail.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not naive. It is hard work and an intentional choice to give up or amend the reflex when American culture and society is steeped in judgment. Maybe the hardest work we undertake. But we need to do this work, our well-being and quality of relationships is at stake.

And exhale. Deep thoughts for an early morning. Somewhere in the last hour of typing this blog, I made a decision: I’m going to throw out my vacation agenda and opt in to paying attention to what my body and spirit needs this week instead of worrying about checking off a to-do list. Embracing healthy striving and simply doing the best that I can.

QOTD:  “Healthy striving is self-focused – How can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused – What will they think?” ~ Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Mood: Circle of Life – The Lion King

Share: Do you believe that others are doing the best that they can? What about you, are you doing the best that you can given what you are going through currently? Do you need to be intentional and extend kindness and compassion to yourself or others?

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